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.
At around 1:36 p.m., American Airlines flight 886 arrived from Charlotte into Cancun International Airport in Mexico. Once the cabin doors open, you could feel a sense of relief sweep through each passenger on the plane.
Normally, there would be a few passengers running out of their seat to crowd the aisles, hoping that would get them off of the plane faster. But, with new rules in place, we were all told to sit still and wait to be dismissed by row. Luckily, I was in row 13, so it didn’t take very long for me to exit the aircraft.
As we walked toward the customs area, there were blue signs in both English and Spanish reminding us to stay at least 5 feet (Mexico’s recommended social distance guideline) from anyone not in our party.
Announcements played over the loudspeakers every few minutes, reminding us that face covering are mandatory in the airport. Every airport staff person, including customs agents, were wearing a face mask or shield. This brought an additional sign of relief.
I made my way through customs in about 20 minutes, and I headed off to pick up my bag. Once I gathered my things, I headed out the doors to the transportation area. This was the one time that things weren’t as strict.
All hotel and company drivers were adhering to safety measures by wearing masks and offering hand sanitizer to those coming up to them to catch their ride. However, I did notice that most of the tourists felt comfortable enough to remove their masks simply because we were outside. I left mine on the entire time.
I found the driver for my resort. He took my temperature, gave me a squirt of hand sanitizer and off we went. In the van there was a sign taped to the window, in Spanish but with pictures, going through Mexico’s COVID-19 guidelines. The guidelines included no eating or drinking in the van, keeping your mask on at all times, not touching your face, as well as not getting into the car if you are sick.
Staying at UNICO
The hour and 10 minute ride flew by and we finally arrived at my resort, UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya. As soon as we entered the grounds, I saw that even the landscapers were wearing face masks and shields.
We pulled up to the main door, and a bellman immediately came over with hand sanitizer. He let me know they would be disinfecting my luggage before bringing it in. I was also asked to step on a mat to disinfect my shoes.
The check-in process was very smooth, and as expected, the resort was nearly empty. The concierge suggested that I download the resort’s app for my stay because I could order food or items needed for my room without using the phone. The app also allowed me to see the menus of restaurants instead of using hard copies.
I spent most of my three days working from the comfort and safety of my ocean-view balcony. I work remotely, so as long as I have a strong WiFi connection I can work from nearly anywhere. My balcony had its own electrical outlets, and I was able to work for the entire day while soaking in some sun and watching the ocean waves.
As suggested, I ordered my breakfast and lunch from my personal device. My meals came double wrapped, and the delivery person was always wearing a mask and gloves.
Sanitizer and social distancing
Around the resort, it appeared that all guests completely ditched their masks. It wasn’t a requirement, and luckily the resort was so big that it was easy to social distance. But just in case, there were kits in our rooms with extra masks and individual hand sanitizing packets.
Staff were cleaning and sanitizing everywhere, especially the main touch-point areas. Elevators had decals showing where to stand to remain socially distant, but I chose to wait for the elevator with no one on it, or I took the stairs.
The only weird part during my stay was being able to walk into restaurants for dinner without a mask. I’ve become used to putting on a mask when entering a business in Charlotte. However, we were always required to sanitize our hands and shoes before being seated, and the wait staff was always masked.
I commend UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya for its safety measures. I left that property to head to a different resort on Day 4. Would it be as safe?
Coming tomorrow: When traveling during COVID-19 evokes ‘Ghostbusters’ imagery, a la full hazmat suits.