- Cancun international airport is 10-15 minutes by car, taxi, or shuttle from the Westin Resort and Spa. The Westin Lagunamar is a different hotel farther from the airport.
- Proceed to the Royal Beach Club at the Westin, which has a private check in for CTW.
- Save your entry card from the airport and show it at check in. The Westin waives government taxes (about 10%) on your room for foreign business visitors with a copy of passport and entry card.
- Taxi and shuttle rates from airports are regulated by the Mexican government and heavily taxed, so more expensive than you might expect, but generally consistent.
All visitors to Mexico, including US Citizens, are now required to have a passport. You may visit the Mexican embassy website for more information. http://portal.sre.gob.mx/usa/
From that website as of Dec. 2009: “If you are a citizen of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Island, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay or Venezuela, you don’t need a visa to enter Mexico, although you must present a valid passport.”
Cancun and the Conference Location
- Cancun is a modern and well-developed tourist resort area in the Yucatan Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
- Mexico’s official language is Spanish but government and airport officials as well as hotel employees generally speak English.
- The Westin is at the very southern end of the “Zona Hotelera” (closest to the airport) which is a long 7-shaped spit with the Caribbean on one side and the large Nichupté Lagoon on the other.
- A very frequent (about every 3 mins) free shuttle runs up and down the Zona Hotelera, making the numerous shopping malls, restaurants, and nightspots easily accessible.
- Dollars can often be used in tourist areas but prices are often better with Mexican pesos (13 pesos = US$1).
- Cancun the city has a population of 400,000 and is entirely Mexican in its feel and layout (in stark contrast to the corporate Hotel Zone), complete with excellent Mexican restaurants and markets. It is at the opposite end of the Zona Hotelera from the Westin.
- Crime is low in the relatively wealthy Yucatan and in the heavily policed Cancun Zona Hotelera in particular, but common sense precautions should still be taken.
In addition to the gorgeous beaches and pool at the Westin and the other attractions of Cancun, there are a number of worthy daytrips. Here are a few of Jeff’s favorites.
- Playa del Carmen is about 60km south of the Westin and is a popular and stylish European-style resort town with great nightlife and good opportunities for diving.
- Isla Mujeres - You can take a short ferry from Puerto Juarez in the NW part of the Hotel Zone to this island, the north half of which is surprisingly low-key Mexico, and the bottom part of which is less populated and includes opportunities for snorkeling and other water activities. Renting a scooter and zipping around the island is also popular.
- Chichen Itza is one of the world’s greatest Mayan archaeological sites, about 2.5 hours each way. Tour bus transportation can be arranged through the Westin or other agencies.
- Cenotes - These unique freshwater limestone sinkholes exist all over the Yucatan and provide very interesting opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
- Tulum, about 120 km south, features Mayan ruins in a spectacular setting overlooking the beach. It is also very close to Gran Cenote, one of the best to visit.