This was our first time staying at the Royal Sands and Spa, and the second time staying at a Royal Resort. I cannot say enough about the resort or the staff. The Sands is a wonderful 5 star resort located next door to Hacienda Sisal just a few steps away from Plaza Kukulcan. Friday, February 22nd (Still at home) Oh great, another snowstorm predicted and we’re leaving tomorrow morning! Saturday, February 23rd (4:00AM) 8” of snow fell last night – thank god the plow guy came – thanks Larry!!! Checked the flight and it’s still on time. Off to Boston we go! The woman behind the counter at Delta was great. 1 suitcase was overweight, but once she stopped laughing after we explained it was due to the 10 pounds of hair and skin products she pushed it though without charging us – Whoo-Hoo!! Our flight was delayed by an hour and a half – not too bad all things considered. Layover in Atlanta was just long enough for a quick lunch, and we were on the ground in Cancun by 3:00PM. Got to the Sands by 4:30ish, tipped our driver and checked in at the desk. Our Villa was oceanfront, ground level. Talk about a view! From patio to beach was about 20 feet. Nice stretch of beach in front of the Sands (probably between 30 and 50 feet) filled with palapas and lounge chairs. Hit the bar for some welcome to Cancun cocktails, then went to dinner in the resort. Nice general fare restaurant, and very attentive staff. One of the nice things about the resort is your room key. It doubles as a credit card for any purchases you make at any of the Royal Resorts. Sunday, February 24th Beach or Pool was the question of the morning – Beach won. Staked out some loungers, and then went to the spa for a massage. What a way to start your vacation! Can those ladies rub! After an hour, we were all pretty much Jell-O, but hungry – breakfast buffet at the resort’s restaurant then back to the beach. Weather is perfect – Sunny, mid 80’s, sun is HOT. The surf was a little rough, but very few rocks so it was fairly easy to get in and out of the water. Wicked undertow though! Waiter service started – mas tequila por favor! Dinner at Captain’s Cove that night. Nice place – sat right on the water and saw one of the ‘gators swim right up to us – good food ( a bit pricey, but not too bad). Monday, February 25th Another blow-torch day in paradise! Perfect morning – sun, sand, lounge chairs, palapas, and this poor woman passed out on a lounger on the beach. Top over her face, nipples to the wind, and drunk as a skunk, she looked like she had been ridden hard and put away wet! The staff had a few chuckles as they tried to get her up and off the beach. I’ll bet she’ll show up on one of those “Priceless” MasterCard commercials. Anyway – more beach, more pool, more cocktails! (Gotta love this place!) If anybody sees a grouper swimming around wearing a pair of sunglasses and a Boston Red Sox baseball cap, grab them – they’re ours. Dinner at Rio Churrascaria steakhouse. What a place! A Brazilian steakhouse that starts off with a large salad, pasta, and veggie bar. Once you’ve got your plate going, the wait staff comes around with slabs of meat on 4-foot long skewers. From filet to sausages to chicken this Brazilian barbeque will tickle anybody’s taste buds. Each person is given a 2 color disk – green side up means keep the meats coming, red side up means stop. After consuming half of the salad bar, more meat than a T-Rex, several cocktails, and dessert, we all were ready to explode. But damn, was it good! Tuesday, February 26th I’m still full from last night, but what the heck – breakfast buffet at the resort to start the day off. We’re all feeling a little crispy from the sun and it’s blazing today, so it’s off to La Isla for some shopping (and lunch!). We saw the Cancun Queen riverboat while we were there – I didn’t realize that we had our own boat! We were given a coupon for La Casa De Las Margaritas and figured we’d go there for lunch. Took a while to find it on the directory, and then figure out where we were, etc. Ends up that we were standing in front of the place – hmmm – maybe another margarita isn’t needed…………Nahhh! Back to the resort for a cocktail at the pool bar. Met a woman at the bar who was from Boston (you know who you are girl!) – what a hoot! Hooked up with her and some of her friends at the sports bar for scary-oki that evening before dinner. Needed that Margarita then! Really though – had a great time – lots of laughs! Dinner at Mikado that night. Had a chef prepare our meal at the table-grill. Always lots of fun watching that. Wednesday, February 27th Who turned the heat off? And where’s the sun??? Overcast, cool (72ish), and very windy today. Went off to visit the Royal Haciendas in Playa Del Carmen. The newest resort by Royal Resorts was nice, but we all liked the Sands better. They are having trouble attracting staff and it shows. The Haciendas opened in 2007 and I think they are still working some of the kinks out. The Villas are gorgeous, but the rest of the place didn’t impress us. Back to Cancun! We must have missed the memo about hurricane Helga coming though! The wind was absolutely howling and the surf was incredible – we’re losing beach in front of our villa – maybe 5 feet or so. Thursday, February 28th Up early and off to Xcaret. We booked through Thomas Moore Travel – very well run operation. Started off with the “Sea Trek”. A walk on the lagoon floor wearing a dive helmet – way cool! Walked through the park seeing cougars, parrots, butterflies, crocks, amazing flora and fauna, etc. There’s an underground river that we snorkeled. There are two paths to the river – take the left one – it’s warmer. We had dinner that night while watching the show. A history of Mayan/pre-Hispanic/Mexican culture with music, dance, a Mayan ball game, horses, etc. It was amazing! Definitely a must see at least once. Back to the resort by 9:30. A very long day, but well worth it. Looked at the beach – lost more of it to the surf. Friday, February 29th How can it be Friday already?!?!?! After breakfast, staked out our chairs by the main pool. Somebody turn the wind off please! Water aerobics started – for a hoot, we joined in – I don’t know what burned off more calories – the exercise or the laughing!! Another round of cocktails, then off to La Isla again for a final round of shopping. Had 5:00PM reservations at the spa for our end of vacation pampering. After the spa we went to Ruth’s Chris steakhouse for our last dinner in Cancun. What a meal!!! Perfect vodka martinis, a mojito, and a margarita started things off. The salads were huge and delicious. We all ordered filet minion that you could cut with your fork. The side dishes were enormous – we had 1 baked potato and 1 sweet potato casserole split between 4 people and we couldn’t even finish them. Sat on the beach and watched the surf for a while before bed. Wind's still strong - probably 10-12 feet of beach gone - surf's still wild. Saturday, March 1st Our last breakfast buffet, boo-hoo! After breakfast, packed up, cleaned up, checked out by 10:30. Off to the airport for an uneventful flight home. We’re already thinking about next year!