Tag Archives: beach

MoBay Wedding Part I: The Planning

As you may or may not know, Mark and I are getting married in Montego Bay, Jamaica this year.  We’ve been to “MoBay” many times both together and separately with our families as kids, but neither of us had ever been to the actual resort where this is happening.  So we figured maaaaaaybe we should check it out.  Maybe.  We’d heard good things.  So we were off!

We headed out Memorial Day Weekend to check out the scene, meet with our on-staff planner, and taste the food that we’d already selected for our menu.  The weekend started off with some good news/bad news:

Good news: We were traveling business class, and while we technically weren’t supposed to be allowed into the Delta lounge at Detroit’s airport (because it wasn’t a transatlantic or transpacific international flight), the lady at the front desk thought we looked okay so she let us in.  Score – free (good) coffee!


Good news: Welcome mimosas on the plane!


Bad news: Guy in front of my spilled his mimosa down the side of his seat and the wall, and I didn’t notice that my purse was wet and smelled like sour baby barf until just before we landed.  Ick.

Bad news: The lady behind me had a persistent and hacking cough.  And I had just contemplated taking expired Airborne the night before, but decided I would probably be fine and threw it out instead.  Double ick.  (Luckily I didn’t get sick, which is like, the first time ever.)

Okay, so we got there in pretty much one piece, and the rest of the weekend was smooth sailing minus a crazy amount of bug bites.  Note to self: bring mosquito repellent!

Since our planner couldn’t meet with us until Monday because they had 3 weddings on Saturday, we had Saturday and Sunday to ourselves to relax, eat lots of good smoked jerk chicken and pork, and scope out the other weddings.  We didn’t actually go in and crash them, but we hovered on the periphery, noting the ambiance, lighting, etc. So far, so good!IMG_3524

IMG_3535View from our balcony. IMG_3539 IMG_3540 IMG_3542Lounging on the beach.


We met with our planner on Monday for a full day of meetings (with the florist, DJ, lighting guy, booking agent, etc.) and cake tasting (YES!!!!) and actual food tasting (everything was so so good; I’m so excited).  We made a lot of decisions, and I think we were able to better show and verbalize our vision for the event (okay, let’s be honest, my vision and some of Mark’s input too….I think he was incredibly bored at the florist 😀 ).

We had new one hiccup: the issue of a tent vs. no tent.  We were planning on going no tent…what’s the point of being outside if you’re just going to be in a tent?  And they have done it without a tent on the property before, and it looks lovely.  So that’s the assumption under which we were operating coming into the weekend; it wasn’t even an open question.  But then we met with the Food & Beverage Manager, and he basically told us No you must have a tent.  Huh?  As he explained, with our particular situation (plated dinner, over 80 people), they wouldn’t be able to move us indoors in case of rain (because that’s too much food to move across the property to a ballroom, as opposed to a buffet where they could just pick up the chaffing trays and run, and the pavilion right next to our lawn doesn’t hold that many people).  And even if it didn’t rain during the event, if it rained during the afternoon, the team wouldn’t have time to set up.  Hm.  Makes sense.  Just frustrating though that this is coming to light NOW, when we are down there….if we haaaadn’t gone down….okay I can’t go down that train of thought.

Tents are not cheap by the way.  It’s not like, oh okay, here’s five dollars, please set up a tent.

After much contemplation, back and forth, and heartache at losing the stars and shelling out more money, I think a tent will give us peace of mind in the end.  However, don’t be surprised if you show up and there isn’t one.  Or surprised that there is one.

Other than the tenting debacle, everything shook out pretty nicely.  My mom was super excited to learn that the lighting guy plays in the band for Toots and Maytals (one of her favorite Jamaican bands).  If you don’t know their music, listen to some of their greatest hits and tell me you don’t want to at least tap your foot, if not break into a full-on step-together-step.

Since the weather’s now warm here in Michigan (dare I say it’s actually summertime?) and generally State-side, you won’t be too jealous of these tropical pics.  Enjoy!


Sugar Hill restaurant is the resort’s best restaurant, located across the street beyond their golf course.  The free shuttle will take you there, where you can eat on the porch or have a cocktail at the indoor/outdoor bar.  There’s an old water wheel, stone well and canon.

IMG_3550 IMG_3553Beautiful sunset. IMG_3555 IMG_3559

IMG_3564 Our lizard friend, Richard (according to the bartender at the Cedar Bar off the main hotel lobby.)

IMG_3582 IMG_3583 IMG_3586 IMG_3594Lovely evening on the beach.

Riviera Maya: March 2014

Riviera Maya: March 2014

Not necessarily thinking through the idea of going to Mexico during Spring Break season, we descended upon Riviera Maya for a long-weekend escape from the Midwest cold. Luckily, most rowdy Spring Breakers park their butts immediately in Cancun where the airport is, rather than make the hour drive down the coast to Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen where we were.

We stayed at the very lovely Fairmont Mayakoba, where we were surrounded by the family Spring Break set, as well as a surprising number of conference travelers (who could actually be considered a bit rowdy). I’ve done my fair share of corporate conference travel and it’s funny to be on the outside looking in on that dynamic.

We did a lot of lounging by the pool and on the beach.  An amazing breakfast buffet was included in our room rate so we gorged early and held out for dinner.  Great green juice, omelets, Mexican classics and tropical fruits.

Han iPhone 701 Han iPhone 704 Han iPhone 707 Han iPhone 708 Han iPhone 709 Han iPhone 803Full moon

The Mayakoba area consists of three hotels and a golf course on the property.  There are man-made canals running between the properties, and you can take a ferry to get back and forth, or you can just take the ferry to explore the wildlife.Han iPhone 755

Han iPhone 762Crocodiles!  There was a woman sunbathing on her hotel room’s porch not 100 feet away.

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Han iPhone 775 Spotted: these creatures!Han iPhone 771 Mangroves

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Han iPhone 767Turtles

We went into town – Playa Del Carmen – two nights for dinner.

image_3Upper left: roll with butter wrapped in a corn husk

Lower right: cochinita pibil – Mayan-style pork – so delish with pickled onions.  We had this for many meals, including breakfast.  Basically a yummy pulled pork dish.  Also, there were tons of various salsas everywhere which are always fun to try, from tomato-based, to habanero, onion and tomatillo.

Han iPhone 830 In town, there were lots of beautiful wares being sold, like these sinks.

Han iPhone 825 Han iPhone 824And these colorful bags Han iPhone 819 and white “puffy shirts” a la Seinfeld!Han iPhone 818

Han iPhone 807The street map was clearly geared toward tourists with the toucan.

Han iPhone 827Stopped at this tropical outdoor (but covered) bar for a pre-dinner beverage.

Han iPhone 838And this trendy outdoor (but again covered) bar for a post-dinner beverage.

Han iPhone 694Saw this band of wandering mariachis on both nights…wearing slightly different outfits each time.

One of the most fun and interesting things we did was a mezcal tasting at one of the other hotels on the Mayakoba property.  They had a sushi-tequila bar (actually probably a good combo when you think about it), where Mark and I tried 5 different mezcals from the same producer, Wahaka.  As I noted in my January Texas post, mezcal is another liquor made from the agave plant, but is smokier than tequila, more like scotch.

We had a perfect perch on a couch on the porch of the Agave Azul restaurant, overlooking the water and the full moon.

Han iPhone 732Shrimp appetizer

Our waiter, who administered the tasting, was super nice, mainly I think due to the fact that as he said, he “didn’t know many women that like mezcal.”  Because he was so excited to find people trying mezcal, he brought us a few small samples of other mezcals he thought we would like, including a mezcal-rita (margarita with mezcal), which I have to say, I enjoyed 10 times more than the one I had previously in Texas.

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As we learned from our waiter and from the informational video he showed us, mezcal is much more diverse than tequila.  Yes, they are both made from agave, but whereas tequila is made only from one variety of the plant, mezcal can be made from many different types.  Additionally, the plants are smoked before being pressed to get the liquid, so that’s why mezcal has that smoky flavor and tequila doesn’t.  The plants can be smoked under wood, rocks, dirt, leather, etc., gaining different flavors in the process.  Mezcal is mainly produced in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, which is an extremely poor region.

I recently figured out how to use this voice recording feature on my phone, so like the nerd that I am, I took some verbal notes on what we tried from Wahaka (I have no idea the names of each that we tried, so that’s useless, but at least to illustrate the range of flavors mezcal can give, and all from one brand, no less!):


1. Woody: Reminded me of a fire pit in New Mexico, toasting smores – made from the Espadin plant

2. Piney

3. Floral but also leathery

4. “Ensemble” – a mixture of the first three essentially – smooth, smokey, herbaceous rather than floral

5. Most high-end…didn’t take any particular tasting notes but was definitely the least pucker-inducing of the Wahaka bunch

Extra: Amores (not Wahaka) which was our favorite of all for being smoky and smooth – also made from the Espadin plant

The other thing I kept noticing on this trip was all the fun and funky lighting fixtures wherever we went.  Somehow this sort of became an obsession, so here are a few of the good lighting shots (many were unusable given the photos were mostly taken at night…like of lanterns and such):

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Pretty delicate paper cutting of plants and animals, and soft reflection of the chandelier in the glass.Han iPhone 746 Han iPhone 747 Han iPhone 677 Han iPhone 796 Han iPhone 843This was a nifty puzzle-piece-looking ceiling at one outdoor bar

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All around a wonderful getaway for relaxing and warm weather.