The Riviera Maya, located in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico, in the famous Yucatan Peninsula, geographically extends along the coast from Punta Brava to the town of Punta Allen south, about 120 km long, spanning the City of "Solidaridad" (Playa del Carmen) and Tulum. Bordered to the east by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and to the west by lush vegetation full of flora and fauna, unique geological formations and archaeological sites that hide remarkable vestiges of Mayan civilization, is the ideal place to enjoy a great vacation.
- The official language of Mexico is Spanish. In this region the indigenous population speaks Mayan. But as the Riviera Maya is a popular touristic destination you won't have trouble finding English speaking almost all around and even other languages.
- The official currency is the Mexican Peso. The exchange rate is between 14 and 17 pesos per American dollar varying according to fluctuations in the foreign exchange market, but US Dollars and credit cards are accepted in most places. There are many exchange offices and banks where you can get pesos. The first generally give better exchange rate but you may have to wait in long lines and they usually ask for documents. Be aware that some only accept few currencies. If you need to change Euros, you must bring your passport.
- The average annual temperature in Riviera Maya is 24–25 °C (75–77 °F) but can reach 35-40 °C during summer months. Usually the weather is hot and humid but the higher temperatures are registered between the months of May and August with frequent night showers. The climate is dominated by a rainy season from May through November, and within the dry season there is a period dominated by northerly winds, which usually occurs in the months of January and February when the weather is sunny and cool. Groundwater and therefore "cenote" (sink holes) water temperatures are 25°C (77°F) year round. Coastal waters range from 26°C (79°F) in January to 29°C (84°F) in August.
- In Riviera Maya applies the Eastern Standard Time EST UTC/GMT-5 hours or the same time of Miami, FL.
- The water that comes out of the sinks and showers at Villa Aqua is treated and desalinated. Please help to conserve local water by using only the water that you need. Even though the water in the villa is treated we do not recommend you drink it from the faucets as it has many minerals that your stomach may not tolerate. For drinking water please use bottle water or the blue large water jugs that we provide in the kitchen, it is complimentary.
- Almost all restaurants in Playa will only serve purified water and use purified ice so do not worry about dining out!
- If you are going to spend your day out on the beach or visiting the different attractions, we recommend you to bring a supply of bottled water and/or drink only bottled beverages.
- Mexico uses the conventional 110/220 electrical powers, the same as the United States. Electricity is very precious here in the Riviera Maya, please remember to keep all doors and windows closed while using the air conditioning to maintain the villa cool and conserve electricity. If you are to open doors and windows please be aware of the fact that it will take time to cool the room and villa again.
- Playa del Carmen is a tropical destination, with that comes sporadic rain showers and high humidity. It might be helpful to buy mosquito repellent because of the wet and humid conditions. We would also like you to note that there are all types of wildlife in our surroundings. Even though we are in a populated area you can still see large iguanas, squirrels, local mammals, exotic birds, as well as various tropical insects.
- There are many ATMs throughout Playa del Carmen where you can receive Pesos but take in mind that sometimes you will be charge a double commission: the ATM's bank and yours! There are some ATMs that provide US dollars but have in mind that sometimes the commission can be up to 10% of the amount you retire.
- If you go on tours outside of the city remember to take plenty of cash with you because it is not common to find an ATM or even a place that will accept credit cards in rural areas.
For USA citizens only:
- Since 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable. If traveling by land or sea (including ferries), ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.
- 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, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America, Uruguay or Venezuela, you don't need a visa to enter Mexico, although you must present a valid passport and fill out an immigration form for tourists and business trips, which can be obtained in travel agencies, airlines or at the point where you enter Mexico.
- The immigration officer at your point of entry into Mexico can also request that you demonstrate that you have sufficient funds and a return ticket to your country. If you are a citizen of any other country, you need to go to a Mexican consulate to request a visa.
- If you have a family member, friend or acquaintance in Mexico, he or she can do this at the INM.
- Visa Airport Departure Tax is approximately $17.00 USD. Children under 2 years of age are exempt.
- In Riviera Maya, which belongs to the State of Quintana Roo, there is a 16% VAT (Value Added Tax) that is added to most products and services.
- Tips are very common in Mexico. The amount you tip is at your discretion and should be based on the quality of service you received. Tips to service personnel (ie: Chef, kitchen assistant, housekeepers, server, maintenance, villa host, etc…) are not included in the cost of your villa rental.
- To give you an idea of how much is usually tipped, and which service providers will expect a tip from you, here is a rundown of who and how much to tip in Mexico:
Waiters and Waitresses in Restaurants: it is customary to leave a tip equal to 10 to 20% of the total of the bill. In some restaurants service is included, particularly if you're part of a large group, but this is not usually the case. Always check the bill to see if service is included or if there are errors in the calculation. If a service charge is included, you may choose to tip extra for superior service.
In bars and at all-inclusive resorts it is appropriate to tip the equivalent of one dollar per drink, or 10 to 15% of the total.
- Guides and Drivers: If you are pleased with your tour guide, it is appropriate to tip 10 to 20% of the cost of a day tour. For multi-day group tours, tip the tour leader a minimum of two or three dollars per day, and coach driver’s one dollar per day. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers, unless they assist you with your luggage, in which case $1 USD or its equivalent in pesos per suitcase is a good rule of thumb.
- Spa Service Providers: It is customary to tip spa service providers 15-20% of the cost of the spa treatment.
- Gas Station Attendants: Pemex stations in Mexico are full service. Gas station attendants are usually tipped, specially if they provide some extra service such as cleaning your windshield; 50 cents 1 USD or its equivalent in pesos is sufficient but if they also check the air in your tires or check the oil, you should tip more.
- Grocery Baggers: In grocery stores there are usually teens or seniors who will bag your purchases. These people do not receive any payment other than the tips they are given. Tip them a few pesos (1 or 2 pesos per shopping bag is a good rule of thumb) add on 1 USD or its equivalent in pesos more if they help you take the bags out to your car.
Villa Staff: Tipping is personal, private and 100% up to your discretion. There are many people who have questions on how to tip the staff who worked hard to make their vacations ones to remember. As a basic guideline for general tipping we recommend a minimum of $10 to $15 USD per person staying in the villa per day.
The total amount should be divided between the number of staff members that served you. The % for each staff is up to your discretion.
Some important things to take into consideration when tipping:
- The quality of services that were provided.
- Were there children? You should consider an additional amount due to the fact that children tend to be more disorderly, eat on specific schedules and from different menus.
- The total number of days of your stay: if you stay in your villa for more than a week you should consider discounting 20% and for more than 2 weeks up to 30%.
- Hours of service – Were you provided with services outside of the normal hours offered?
- Were services arranged for you such as transportation and outings?
- Plan ahead for tipping: include tips in your vacation budget.
- Change can be hard to come by in Mexico. Use larger bills when making purchases and hang on to your change so that you’ll have it on-hand for tips.
- Villa Aqua has no-tipping policies but most staff is happy to receive tips.
- Leaving a tip is important, but a smile and a “gracias” can be just as important in showing your appreciation to someone who has provided you with a service
- Tips are voluntary, NOT an obligation. You will make the final decision on how you will compensate the service personal.
- Please do not feel obligated to tip. This information is being provided because we have encountered a lot of questions about tipping and would like to leave this decision 100% private and up to your discretion.