Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean Are Now Open for Travel

best caribbean islands 2021The Casa Coco hotel, the leading boutique hotel in Isla Mujeres.

The Mexican Caribbean, including Cancun, Grand Costa Maya (Bacalar, Chetumal, Mahahual), Costa Mujeres, Maya Ka’an, Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum), and the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres have now reopened to visitors, with new COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Designated a “Safe Travels” destination by the World Travel & Tourism Council, the state of Quintana Roo has adopted the Mexican Caribbean Clean & Safe Check Certification program for all businesses that interact with tourists; more than 5,000 companies have registered for certification, including hotels, restaurants, and tour operators.

“All travelers to the Mexican Caribbean and its destinations can check with the companies they plan to interact with to see if they have received this certification,” according to the Quintana Roo Tourism Board.

Incoming visitors will be required to complete COVID-19 risk questionnaires and undergo thermal screening for elevated body temperatures signaling possible coronavirus infection.

Initially, hotels, restaurants, and attractions have been allowed to open at 30 percent of their normal capacity in order to allow for social distancing. Hand-washing, mask-wearing, and other protocols designed to slow the spread of disease are in place.

Occupancy levels will be increased in four stages, unless COVID-19 cases spike. Currently and through June 28, the Mexican Caribbean is in stage orange, with hotels, restaurants, and attractions required to operate at no more than 30 percent of capacity. Public beaches are currently closed, but some resort beaches are open.

mexico resorts top
The Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, which is opening July 4.

The next stage, yellow, would raise capacity limits to 60 percent, followed by stage green, 100 percent.

The Quintana Roo Tourism Board projected that 45 percent of hotels would be reopened on June 15, with 75 percent reopened by July 1.

“We are excited to welcome back visitors to the beautiful destinations of the Mexican Caribbean,” said Darío Flota, CEO of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board. “Of course, we are committed to re-opening the destination carefully. We have the assurance of leading experts, who have helped us implement the highest safety standards, that our state is ready to reignite tourism.”

COVID-19 Remains a Concern

As of June 21, Cancun has had 1,874 cases of coronavirus and 392 deaths, with 2,946 total cases in Quintana Roo.

“Since June, the growth rate of cases has decreased in the northern area of Quintana Roo which is home to destinations including Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, among others.

According to the strategic reopening plan for the state, these conditions permit the reopening of tourism related businesses in this northern area,” according to the tourist board.

There are currently no travel restrictions on visiting the Mexican Caribbean or for returning to the U.S. or Canada.

Hotel Openings

Resorts in the Mexican Caribbean that have been certified to reopen include:

Riu Palace Peninsula

Riu Cancun

Moon Palace

LeBlanc Resort and Spa

Coco B Isla, Isla Mujeres

El Dorado Maroma

Palafitos Overwater Bungalow

Hidden Beach Au Naturel Resort

Generations Riviera Maya

Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya 

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun

Hotels scheduled to reopen on July 1 include:

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort and Spa

TRS Coral Hotel

El Dorado Royale

El Dorado Casitas Royale

El Dorado Seaside

Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun

Azul Beach Riviera Cancun

Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hyatt Ziva Cancun

Hilton Playa del Carmen

The Grand Residences Riviera Cancun will reopen on July 4.

Hotels scheduled to reopen on July 15 include:

 Royalton Riviera Cancun

 Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun

Panama Jack Resorts Cancun

palladium hotel group
The TRS Coral near Cancun.

Open attractions include Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Alltournatives, and Cancun Adventures. Attractions planning to reopen on July 1 include Xoximilco, Garrafon Reef Park, and Aventuras Mayas, with Xnotes and Xenses opening on July 2 and Joya opening on July 3.

Air travel to the Mexican Caribbean never fully halted, and currently there are eight major airlines flying to Cancun International Airport and/or Cozumel, including United Airlines, American Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, and Frontier Airlines.

Operating U.S. gateways to Cancun include New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Orlando, and Miami. “One of our biggest challenges is to recover our air connectivity,” said Vanessa Mariscal, director of public relations for the Quintana Roo Tourist Board.

Health and Safety Protocols

Individual resorts that have certified and are reopened have adopted the Mexican Caribbean Clean & Safe Check protocols and, in some instances, have added other safety measures. Palace Resorts, for example, outlined its “Purely Palace” plan as follows:

  • Employees will have their temperature checked upon arrival at work.
  • Uniforms will be sanitized.
  • Footwear will be disinfected.
  • Employees will be equipped with face masks, which will be replaced every four hours.
  • Guests will be encouraged to check-in online through a resort app.
  • Floor markers installed to respect social distancing guidelines.
  • Acrylic protective barriers installed at all guest check-in areas.
  • Each guest will be asked to sign a declaration of health, confirming they are free of any COVID-19 related symptoms, and have not had tested positive or come into contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days.
  • Incoming guests’ luggage will be immediately disinfected upon arrival.
  • Housekeeping teams will follow strict quality and sanitation controls, including mandatory use of gloves, face shields, and facemasks while cleaning and disinfecting guestrooms.
  • Mattresses will be professionally steamed to help eliminate any harmful viruses and bacteria.
  • Upon guest departure, each room will undergo a complete disinfection process using an electrostatic nebulizer system.
  • Sanitation tablets will be installed in air conditioning units to eliminate potential viruses and bacteria.
  • A health certification will be placed in each room.
  • Guests will receive a personal hygiene kit in their rooms, which will include antibacterial gel, face masks, and disinfecting wipes.
  • All public areas will be sanitized daily with an electrostatic mist system.
  • Indoor and outdoor soft furnishings will be disinfected and spaced according to social distancing requirements.
  • Entertainment venues will be disinfected throughout the day and will undergo a deep sanitation process at the end of each performance.
  • At shows, families will be seated with enough space between families to respect social distancing guidelines, and indoor entertainment spaces will have a maximum capacity. 
  • Nightclubs, bars, and other public facilities will have a maximum guest capacity.
  • Social distancing will be enforced when waiting in line for outdoor activities such as the water park and the FlowRider Double Wave Simulator.
  • The number of people in elevators will be limited, and antibacterial gel dispensers will be placed at each elevator door
  • Spa and beauty salons will offer sanitized check-in areas, common areas will be limited to maximum capacity, and all hot tubs and hydrotherapy areas will be kept at controlled temperatures to limit the spread of germs.
  • All swim-up pool bars will be closed.
  • All buffets will be removed from all restaurants.
  • Physical menus will be disinfected after each use, and guests will be encouraged to view menus through the resort app.
  • Each team member is required to wash their hands every 30 minutes. 
  • All golf carts, lobby-to-lobby buses, and general internal transportation will be disinfected every 30 minutes.
  • Transfer vehicles will have a maximum capacity according to size, so guests are spaced as safely as they can from each other.

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