By Charlie O’Neill
With all of the uncertainty around travel due to Covid-19, I decided to take an internationl trip to experience first hand the changes that have been put into place. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall travel experience!
Check-in & Security
The emphasis at the airport was clearly on limiting touch-points. I was able to check in on the Delta App like normal and utilize my mobile boarding pass. Delta requires you to check 4 boxes during check-in; agreeing to wear a mask on the plane, confirming you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and that you have not been exposed to COVID in the last 14 days.
You must wear a mask from the time you enter the airport until the time you exit the airport. The airport security process was normal. All passengers were socially distancing in security line. Once past security, most restaurants and shops were closed but there is limited access to food and beverages. Only the main Delta Sky club at DTW is open in the center of the terminal. The tram is not operating at this time.
Delta is currently boarding the plane from back to front to limit contact with other passengers. Middle seats were all blocked and will be through January 2021. Our flight to Mexico was booked to capacity (60%) as well as our return flight back to the US.
Delta is serving alcohol (beer and wine only) in Comfort Plus and First Class. In first class, they do offer guests a complimentary snack box during the flight. No meal service has resumed. All passengers receive a clear bag with a snack, bottle of water, Purell wipe, and napkin when boarding.
As we approached our destination, Delta provided the normal immigration and arrival documents for Mexico. There is an additional arrival form covering health questions (note: this form was never collected by anyone at arrival).
All US flights are currently arriving into Terminal 4 which was very nice and spacious. They do take temperatures of all travelers upon arrival. They have removed the red light green light for bag checks and now randomly select arriving passengers to scan their bags. The entire arrival process took no more than 20 minutes.
We easily located Trafictours and they took us to our private transfer to the resort. The driver gave all guests hand sanitizer and reminded us to wear our masks on the shuttle. We requested that the driver stop at OXXO (similar to a 711) on the way from airport to hotel to get snacks and sunblock. He was happy to do it. The drive to the Unico resort was about 1 hour from the airport, located between Playa Del Carmen and Akumel. The entire drive is on a paved highway and it is very easy. Unico is located very close to Barcelo Maya Palace and Hard Rock Riviera Maya- two resorts that our Spring Break groups travel to frequently.
Upon arrival to the resort, they checked all of our temperatures. The bellmen sanitized our luggage & we walked on a mat to sanitize our shoes. Resort staff was required to wear masks at all times. The swim-up bars are closed and the resort is operating at 30% max capacity (recently increased to 60% as things improve). Social distancing was enforced in all indoor and outdoor venues. Guests were encouraged to wear masks in inside venues, but not required. All restaurants operated with a QR code to access the menu on your mobile device, as opposed to a physical menu.
The resort spa required a temperature check for all guests at arrival. They required all guests to shower before treatment and therapists were required to wear a mask during treatment (guest did not). The number of guests in the spa at one time was also limited.
The weather can be very hit or miss in September in Mexico. The weather forecast called for thunderstorms every day. We saw about 5 minutes of rain during our entire 5 day trip. Was sunny for nearly the entire trip. Perfect weather!
I was pleasantly surprised to see that resort experience was still as it always has been in the past. All staff and service was exceptional and all food and beverage exceeded expectations as always. Their food is gourmet and some of the best I have had in an all-inclusive resort. Room service is available and can be ordered via the app. The local host even made a bubble bath on the balcony one night.
We did visit Playa Del Carmen, which was about a 30 minute taxi ride from the resort. The cost was approximately $35 USD each way for 4 passengers. The town was fairly quiet but it was great to be there. We went to El Fagon for one of the best tacos in town. Less than $1 per taco!
The transfer back to the airport was on time and a breeze. Checking in at the airport in Cancun was the same as always. You can use your mobile boarding pass for flights from Cancun to the US. They again took temperatures at the airport prior to departure. Upon arrival in the US, the customs agent asked for purpose of travel. I stated tourism and was on my way. There were no further questions or screening.
The overall experience was exceptional. It was a true pleasure getting back to Mexico. There is nothing like it. I plan to return before the end of the year. It was also great to see that the resort experience was nearly the same as it was before COVID. As a majority of the experience is outside, it is easy to socially distance and remain safe during your stay. I would feel comfortable recommending this to friends, family, or clients.