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March 21, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 L.A. to Tulum, Mexico

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As of October 2007 there have been reports of robbery at the resort. Karisma no longer manages Azul Blue so the story below might not reflect today's experience.

Buenas tardes from Mexico! Iím down here checking out a brand new luxury, gourmet-inclusive hotel. So if youíre into good food and interested in seeing the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, then you will definitely want to come on this trip. For those of you who are in a hurry or have ADD (itís okay, I have it too!), thereís a 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this weekís story.

We left off last week from the exclusive island resort of Sunset Key in Key West, Florida (hereís the link). From there I flew to Fort Lauderdale, spent a couple of days with my sister and niece and nephew before flying back to L.A. on American Airlines. In Los Angeles, I hung out with my dad and his wife Nancy, who were escaping the cold northeast temperatures. Some of the highlights from their visit included going to the Santa Anita race track and stopping off in China Town for some delicious and inexpensive dim sum at Empress Pavilion. (988 N. Hill St. [located in Bamboo plaza]; tel.: 213-617-9898). Then it was time to hit the road again.

I was invited to check out Karisma Hotelís newest resort in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Since I had just been to Cancun (hereís the story), I wasnít sure if I should go or send one of our writers. But when I read the press release and saw how plush and innovative the place was, I decided I had to see it for myself. On top of that, it was just a mile away from the Tulum Ruins which I regretted not seeing the last time I was in the area. To get to Tulum, I flew to Cancun on Alaska Airlines. Whatís cool about Alaska Airlines is that you can check-in online even for international flights and because I wasnít checking any bags, I breezed through LAX and security, taking the hassle out of going to the airport. (TIP: Be sure to check-in with the gate agent before boarding so they can see your passport and clear you in their computer system.) The flight to Cancun was only four hours and 15 minutes. I traveled on a 737-900 series plane and the first-class service was impressive (and I got upgraded -- yeah baby!). The flight attendants were attentive and friendly. After takeoff they served a hot, tasty (and fattening) chicken sandwich and handed each passenger a Digi Player loaded with an assortment of movies, TV and music entertainment channels. For economy passengers, these Digi Players are available to rent for either $10 or $15 (depending on how long the flight is). If you donít have a laptop or a book to read, they help to make the time "fly" by.

My cool seatmate was grateful that I told him to fill out the bottom part of the Mexican customs form that everyone seems to leave blank. Iím telling you Ė there will be a Mexican official checking this the second you step into the airport; if itís not filled out, they will make you step to the side and complete it before allowing you to proceed to immigration, which is downstairs and costing you valuable beach time. For those getting picked up by a hotel shuttle service, just keep walking. Ignore the screaming salespeople behind the Tours Information or Travel Advisors booths. And if you donít need help with baggage, just say "no gracias" in stride to the army of blue-shirted porters. The resort had made arrangements with Lomas Travel to drive me the 80 miles south (one hour and forty-five minutes) to Tulum.

These days, you donít need to change U.S. money into pesos as long as youíre staying in Cancun or the surrounding tourist areas. Almost all stores accept US dollars, but some give change in pesos. The last two times I visited Cancun, I didnít bother to change my money and you donít need to either, unless youíre taking the bus or going into real Mexico (off the beaten tourist path). FYI: 1 USD = 11.14 pesos.

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Key West Airport


My Niece


My Nephew


Santa Anita


Boarding Time


Alaska Airlines


Drive To Tulum


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