PRELUDE ... Sheila and Mike went on vacation with us to Cancun in November 2006. It was their first trip to Mexico, and they loved it! When we got home Sheila and I started planning our next trip. Since she and Mike had never been to Playa, they said they would trust my judgment in the choice of a hotel ... Such power I have over people! :shock: We found decent airfare on USA3000 for May, so we booked our flights online. I had wanted to stay at the Shangri La Caribe, after walking through it last year ... ... so we booked directly with the hotel. I like to try different hotels, as I would be bored senseless staying in one place. I decided on the Gran Porto Real for the second half of our trip. Two totally different hotels ... one very basic and one a little fancier. Our private transport was booked. Sheila told her cousin (Christine) about the trip, and she and her boyfriend decided to go, too. Christine and her boyfriend live near Baltimore, so they would fly out of Baltimore, and arrive in Cancun 10 minutes prior to our landing. The six of us were all booked, and all paid, and all looking forward to a nice week in Playa ... but, 3 weeks before the trip, Christine's boyfriend found a new girlfriend! :evil: At this late date Christine couldn't find anyone who was able to go with her. Long story short ... we told her to go without that jerk, and we would guarantee her a good time. DAY ONE - THURSDAY - MAY 10 The day has finally arrived ... Norbie and I were out the door at 4 a.m., and headed to the airport for our 7 a.m. flight. When we arrived at the USA3000 counter no one was in line ... woo hoo! I noticed a little sign stating USA3000 is now charging for a breakfast sandwich and also for a sandwich on the return flight ... what the heck?!?! When we started flying with USA3000 we were given a mimosa in the morning, a nice hot breakfast, warm chocolate chip cookies, and a movie, all at no extra charge. They would have a game of chance onboard if you wanted to participate. You would write your seat number on a dollar bill, throw the dollar in a hat, and they would pick out a bill, and that person would win all of the money. It was a nice way to start your vacation with some extra cash. And on the return flights you would fill out an Apple Vacation survey, and the flight attendant would collect them, pick one and that person would get a bottle of champagne. But no more fun and games. :evil: Then the meal turned into an egg and cheese biscuit with NO mimosa, NO cookies, and if you lost your headset they wanted $3.00 for a replacement to watch the movie! Now they are charging $5.00 for any food onboard. Airlines are getting worse and worse, but I digress ... so on with my report ... We met Mike and Sheila at the ticket counter, checked in, and went to Au Bon Pain for bagels and coffee. (I refuse to pay $5.00 for an egg & cheese biscuit on the plane ... I have some principles, ya know!) Here we are, enjoying our breakfast ... Had an uneventful flight, and we even landed in Cancun early. Norb and I were in the first row, so we were first off the plane. No one was in line at immigration, so we breezed through. Christine was waiting for us at the baggage carrousel. We all got the green light, and headed outside, where that wonderful heat just about knocks you over. There was our private transportation, waiting with a big smile! The van arrived in a minute, and off we went down Highway 307, with our friendly driver, Jose. Soon we were pulling up to the lobby of the Shangri La. According to wikipedia, "Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise" And I agree! It's hard to describe the Shangri La, it's not one building like a hotel. It's a lot of small one, two or three story casitas in a jungle-like setting. Very tropical! ... http://www.shangrilacaribe.net/ Here's Christine, Sheila and Mike in the lobby ... Our rooms were not ready, so we stored our luggage, and at 11 a.m. we headed down the street to the La Cueva del Chango restaurant for lunch. The guacamole is to die for! Norb and I had shrimp tacos and chicken tacos. I don't remember what the others had, but everyone loved their lunch, even though we didn't see any monkeys in the trees. We walked back to the hotel, changed into swimsuits, picked up our beach towels, and headed to the beach. The beach at the Shangri La is sooooo beautiful ... no rocks, no drop offs in the sand ... just so beautiful! How could you not love it here? ... We lounged, relaxed and talked and soon it was 3 p.m., so we went back to the lobby to get our rooms. The bellboy got our luggage and took us to our room, 21B, in the middle of the hotel grounds. The Shangri La is divided into sections. Norb and I were in the Caribe section, which is the middle. Mike and Sheila and Christine were in the Pueblito section, rooms 50B and 51B, at the back of the hotel grounds. I liked our section, because we were close enough to the beach to get that wonderful breeze through the windows, plus we didn't have to walk so far. This was the view from our porch, an oceanview ... if you look through the palm fronds :lol: Very basic room, with NO t.v. and NO phone ... HEAVEN! Bathroom ... There was a small table and chair, plenty of towels, a safe, plenty of hangers, a/c and a ceiling fan, and they supplied shampoo, conditioner, soap, kleenex and bottled water. On the porch were two chairs, a table, and the bellboy hung not one but TWO hammocks ... I unpacked while "you-know-who" tried out the hammock ... The Shangri La is semi all-inclusive. Breakfast and dinner are included in your room rate. Lunch and alcoholic drinks are not included. You can charge lunch and drinks to your room, they only ask your room number, you do not have to sign anything. It's very convenient, and you don't have to wear a bracelet. There are two restaurants here, one serves breakfast and lunch, and the other serves dinner. There are two pools, a little gift shop, internet, yoga in the morning, massages, and a bar near one of the pools. We all went to Happy Hour between 5 and 6 p.m. at the bar, drinks are two for one. Christine, Sheila, me and Mike ... Dinner is served starting at 7, so we got showered and dressed, and we all met at 7 p.m. It was Carribean night in the restaurant, and it was a buffet ... We had soup and salad, there was paella, tix n chix fish, potatoes, shrimp, lots of choices ... For dessert we had flan and custard in swan-shaped pastry. There were also musicians strolling from table to table, and it was very nice. We all enjoyed our dinner. After we stuffed our pie holes, Sheila, Norb and I wanted to walk down 5th Avenue. Mike and Christine decided to go back to their rooms, they were both tired. So the three of us took a walk down 5th and stopped at the first Starbucks we saw for mocha frappucinos. Then, we realized it was 10 p.m., and we were exhausted from our long travel day, but sooo happy to be back in Playa. We took a taxi back to the Shangri La, and said goodnight.