April 18, 2021

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A travel experience from Charlotte to Mexico during COVID-19

5 min read

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In July, staff at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya were disinfecting each room prior to a guest’s arrival. Due to COVID-19, staff would not re-enter the room until a guest’s stay was over.

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Follow our writer, DeAnna, as she ventures out for the first time. What was it like? In case you missed Day 1: I left Charlotte — left the country, actually — during COVID. Here’s how that went. Day 2: Traveling from Charlotte during COVID-19: Face masks at airport, but not at resort.

On Saturday morning, I rounded out my amazing two-night stay at a Mexican resort. I spent the morning taking a few photos for my personal memories and grabbing breakfast by the pool for the last time. My transportation arrived right at noon, and it was time for the second half of my getaway

After parting ways with UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya, I loaded up into the van for the 15 minute ride up to Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. My driver was masked up, and once we arrived, a bellman was waiting at the drop-off area to sanitize my hands.

I had to sign a form giving permission for the hotel to take and sanitize my luggage before allowing me to take it to my room. As I walked up to the main door, I passed through a thermal temperature scanner while another hotel employee monitored the screen. As I entered the door, I stepped on another disinfecting mat for my shoes.

After I checked in, a bellman escorted me and my luggage to my room. Once we arrived at the room, the bellman explained that from this point, no employee from the hotel would be able to enter my room for the duration of my stay as part of the hotel’s safety protocol. He explained that I could order room service and request towels as needed, but I would need to meet the staff person at the door and physically take any items off of a tray myself.

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The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. DeAnna Taylor CharlotteFive

Walking around the resort, I noticed there were more people. While it still appeared to be within the 30% capacity guidelines, there were more families with children since Hard Rock is a family friendly resort. UNICO was adults-only, and that cut down on the numbers there, as well.

Masks were not required for guests, but all staff people wore them. Even the people providing entertainment by the pools wore masks the entire time. Each time you entered any door around the resort, there was a sanitizing mat for you to clean your shoes. Anytime you entered a restaurant, you had to sanitize there, as well.

COVID safety measures

All of the resort’s shows were moved to an outdoor plaza. Chairs were spaced out in groups of two, four and six so that families could sit together while still keeping a safe distance from other families.

One morning, I happened to catch the room-disinfection process in action. There was a man in a full hazmat suit carrying what looked like the proton pack from Ghostbusters, spraying a yellow liquid as he walked throughout the room. Another staff person stood at the door, filling out paperwork while the man disinfected.

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Writer DeAnna Taylor visited Mexico during COVID-19 and returned to quarantine afterward in Charlotte. DeAnna Taylor CharlotteFive

This part of my stay happened to fall on the weekend, so I had more freedom to explore the resort, along with more of Tulum and Riviera Maya. I took a taxi into downtown Tulum to walk around and grab lunch. The main strip wasn’t packed, and there were signs at each restaurant listing out guidelines for staying safe against COVID-19.

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Restaurants in downtown Tulum, Mexico, offered guidelines for staying safe against COVID-19, and the area wasn’t overcrowded with visitors. DeAnna Taylor CharlotteFive

Many of the restaurants were open-air, and customers were spaced out with at least one table in between. All restaurant staff and shop employees wore masks, and a large bottle of sanitizer was sitting on a stand outside of any door.

On my second free day, I decided to check out one of the local cenotes, Cenote Azul. A cenote is a natural pool that is formed when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. Since this is an outdoor experience, there weren’t many social distancing rules other than maintaining distance from people you didn’t know.

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At Cenote Azul, guests were asked to maintaining distance from strangers for COVID-19 safety. DeAnna Taylor CharlotteFive

There were multiple pools around this cenote, and most families huddled together in their own little area.

Return flight to Charlotte

My three-day stay flew by, and it was time to head back to Charlotte. The process of leaving Cancun’s airport was very similar to my arrival. I did get to the airport a lot earlier this time, and I saw airport staff walking around in hazmat suits spraying and wiping down seats as people got out of them.

My return flight was also booked to capacity, and we all kept our masks on for the entire 2.5 hours. I wiped down my seat with my Clorox wipes, and kept my personal hand sanitizer nearby.

Arriving back at Charlotte Douglas International was pretty smooth, as well. Once again, I was surprised to see so many people arriving back from international destinations, mostly other parts of Mexico and Jamaica.


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After I grabbed my luggage, I called an Uber instead of asking my mom to pick me up. Since she is considered high risk, I didn’t want to come in contact with her for at least two weeks.

Uber’s current policy requires masks to be worn during your ride, and my driver wore his as well.

It felt good to get away for a few days and change the scenery. While I would love to hit the skies again, I am hesitant with so many borders reclosing to Americans. I am now back to my personal quarantine in my apartment, until it is safe to go out again.

Editor’s note: If you are sick, feeling symptoms, or simply don’t know if you are sick, please do not travel. The CDC recommends implementing the following measures if you decide to travel: clean and wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with warm soap and water, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, avoid touching your face, wear a cloth face covering while in public and try to avoid close contact with people.

Follow more of our reporting on Coronavirus in North Carolina


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DeAnna Taylor is a NC attorney turned travel blogger and writer. She writes for Travel Noire, XONecole, CharlotteFive, and a few others. She is a native of Charlotte and loves highlighting the city whenever she can. You can find her on social media at: @brokeandabroadlife.

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