In brief…

Bush joining spring breakers in CancúnChicago Tribune

Cancún in security lockdown for Bush visitReuters

Credit where credit’s due…

March 29th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

Cancún’s rapid recovey from Hurricane Wilma is being held up as a role model for other destinations to follow.

The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), Francesco Frangialli said yesterday: "…the speed and efficiency shown in the recuperation of Cancún should be used as a blueprint for other countries facing similar threats."

Monsieur Frangialli is now in Acapulco for the annual “Tianguis Turístico” jamboree.

I would have to agree with the WTO’s assessment. Are you listening Mr Bush?

Getting Cancún ready for future battles

March 28th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News, Weather

I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said "Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time."

Storm coming - photo: Daniel PembrokeFive months on from Wilma, I’ve detected signs that some people are beginning to wonder what may be in store this year. The hurricane season starts in June, which somehow suddenly now seems just around the corner.

Right on cue, Sean Mattson poses some questions about hurricane preparedness in Cancún in an article for the San Antonio Express. He remarks on how insurers have announced higher premiums and are now more demanding of construction quality. You may recall that I wrote about it in January.

As they say in the Caribbean…

"June too soon, July stand by,

Walls of contention

March 27th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

No, not the wall of sand that has preoccupied my posts recently, but the proposed 700-mile, $2.2 billion wall in the sand along a stretch of the US-Mexico border.

This thorny topic will no doubt find its way onto the agenda as President Fox prepares to host President Bush and Canadian Premier Stephen Harper for two days of talks in Cancún starting Thursday.

Guessing game

The venue of the talks remains a closely guarded secret, and as I reported last week, security has gradually ratcheted up.

The swanky Le Blanc Spa Resort looks likely to either host one of the leaders (most probably President Fox) or stage the summit itself.

Bush and…

Mission beach

March 22nd, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

Secret service agents will stealthily sneak into Cancún this week in advance of the tri-lateral summit on 30/31st March. They will begin sweeping selected venues for potential hazards and x-raying walls, lamps, and brand-new puffed-up post-Wilma pillows for bugs.

No official word on where the talks will be held, of course… but the Grand Coral Beach, or other Fiesta Americana hotel look the most likely. Any ‘exclusion zone’ should not impact the beach recovery operation on the "wave" side of the Hotel Zone.

A line in the sand

March 21st, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Beach at The Royal Sands, March 20th, 2006 - photo courtesy Royal Resorts Peter Grosser paced out the vast "re-loaded" beach (as Mel described it) at the Royal Sands at the weekend. He confirms that at this point the beach is upwards of 50m wide ("83 paces" to be exact).

I’m grateful to Peter for taking time out of his vacation (or was he avoiding the packing?) for settling this conundrum.

Read Peter’s full report here.

Photo taken at the Royal Sands, March 20th. With thanks to Royal Resorts. View a larger version

Meanwhile, at the southern end of the Hotel Zone, scene of the most alarming shrinkage to the already recovered beach, the "wall" has reduced in height a little. Most of the rocks…

Mother Nature’s way

March 17th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

After a double helping of rumination over that "sand wall" (or ‘shelf’) on Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I’d post this snippet from a recent email received from Mel Zelniker in Cancún.

"The ‘shelf’ you speak of is a not uncommon happening here. Last week we went to Playa Delfines, one of the first re-loaded beaches.

"On our first day there the shelf was an impressive 2 to 3 foot affair with lots of shells and bits to be excavated from the water side.

"When we returned the very next day, the shelf was gone.

"I don’t know if this was the result of sculpting by Fonatur [the Mexican tourism…

In brief…

March 17th - AP’s Julie Watson has written an article about how Cancún is peeling off the wet T-shirt in favour of the spa gown and slippers; turismo premium, I think the Mexico Tourism Board like to call it.

LeBlanc render lobby Spring breakers account for less than 1 percent of the approximately 3.5 million visitors expected in Cancún this year

Last year, Cancún was the No. 2 destination for spring break travelers booking their trips through, second only to Miami… This year, Cancún fell to eighth place.

More sand at the Sands

March 16th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

Kudos to Royal Resorts for their constantly updated photo galleries, which are a real treat. The information they provide is head and shoulders above their Hotel Zone neighbours.

Beach recovery at Royal Sands, March 15th, 2006 - photo courtesy Royal ResortsThis photo was taken yesterday (March 15th) in front of the Royal Sands, looking south.

View a larger version

It’s noteworthy, I think, because it’s the first image I’ve seen that clearly shows the vast width of the reclaimed beach.

We learned yesterday that up to 58m of sand is being pumped onto the Cancún’s beaches (not 30m), with the expectation that it will shrink naturally to approx. 25m.

The beach looked like this just five days ago.

With just under 8km of beach…

In brief…

March 16th – More polemics over the possible environmental effects of Cancún’s beach reclamation project.

A contrary view – and those overseeing the project claim to have evidence – is that Hurricane Wilma was responsible for the damage, and not the dredging company, Jan de Nul.

Digging deeper into the sand trap

March 15th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, News

The recent wind swell has abated and the beach transplant operation pushes on towards Punta Cancún.

But everything in its wake has changed, and there’s a bit of a hoo-hah over the suddenness that 10-20 metres of recovered beach washed away, leaving a ‘wall’ several feet high in places.

An article (language: Spanish) in today’s La Jornada features another photo.

Was this anticipated and factored into the models, or has Cancún suffered a setback? Frankly, it’s hard to make a judgment.

I sense some unease however, even from my long-distance vantage point.

The dredgers, bulldozers and tractors kept us all mesmerized for weeks – I said as much last month –…

Big on bluster but short on sand

March 14th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, News

First the good news… recycled sand began to be pumped onto what was left of the beach at the Royal Sands complex on Monday. [Photo courtesy Royal Resorts]

But a few kilometres further south, all is not well.

La Jornada frontpage March 14th, 2006 After six weeks of spectacular progress (and unstinting positivity on my part), sections of the reclaimed beach have haemorrhaged sand after a few days of pounding waves.

Compare this photo of the recently ‘nourished’ beach that fronts the Royal Solaris hotel taken by Jim Wehrle on March 3rd, with another photo Jim captured on March 11th. The erosion is glaringly self evident.

Hoteliers must be observing the deterioration with increasing alarm, while bemused…

Strong winds interrupt beach recovery

March 13th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Stiff coastal breezes and roily seas whipped the Mexican Caribbean over the weekend and temporarily suspended the beach recovery operation in Cancún.

The two dredgers, the Filippo Brunelleschi (pictured last week) and Barent Zanan (pictured on Saturday), remain anchored in the Bahía de Isla Mujeres until conditions calm a little.

Authorities in Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Puerto Juárez all briefly closed their ports to small craft.

Rollin’ on to the Ritz

March 11th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

Cancun beach recovery reaches Ritz Carlton - photo: Jim Wehrle Jan de Nul have all but completed their work in front of the Ritz Carlton.

Photo, right, taken this afternoon by Jim Wehrle.

After frenetic progress since February 1st, work on the Cancún beach recovery has visibly slowed after three days of windy conditions and choppy seas.

However, the equipment will shortly be assembled at the Royal Sands, which is next in line for a beach makeover.

The project is now 60 per cent complete and still on course to reach Punta Cancún before the April 30th contract deadline.

My unofficial beach recovery timeline

In brief…

Laurence Iliff has put together a pretty balanced article about the region’s ongoing recovery for the Dallas Morning News – March 10th

I’ve been told that Señor Frog’s in Cancún will now re-open next Thursday, March 16th. This updates my February 3rd post.

Miracle workers

March 7th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

What a difference a few days make.

Looking south from the Cancun Palace - photo: Mel On Friday (March 3rd), the ‘view’ in front of the Cancún Palace was of waves licking at the hotel boundary wall (photo: Jim Wehrle).

Today, the transformation is nothing short of miraculous (see photo, right).

Bulldozers are today smoothing out the recycled sand in front of hotel Le Meridien (photo), the Golden Crown Paradise and Ritz Carlton (photo).

Special thanks to Mel Zelniker who took these photos earlier this afternoon along the stretch of Cancún’s beach known as Playa Ballenas.