You’ll Know It When You see It

Travel-Agent-TourShe was 30. She was feeling old. She needed to step out into the world and get her mojo back. After two years as a travel agent my friend Gina knew the places she wanted to visit through brochures, the occasional family trip and the stories of returning clients. It was time to make a change.

One day a chauffeured driven limousine pulled up to the curb outside the small office of Bon Voyage Travel. Antonia Morales stepped out and came into the agency to share the news that her family was opening vacation properties on the Yucatan Peninsula. The east coast of Mexico was primed for tourism and the Morales family was sitting on some the most valued real estate in all of Mexico.

Antonia showed architectural renderings of a family style resort positioned right at the pier of Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean Sea. It was ready for it's first guests. Antonia invited one of the staff of Bon Voyage Travel to come down as a guest of the Morales family, and spend a few days checking out the site. A few days later an invitation addressed to Gina arrived on her desk. An obvious mix-up as the owner of the agency was also named Gina and she delivered the letter to the owner. The owner at that time had just returned from an extensive trip, had too much on her plate and couldn't take the time away. She gave the invitation to Gina. The year was 1980.

Gina had been promoting the Yucatan for several months and couldn't wait to get to experience it first hand. She wrote to another hotel operator whose property she had been selling named, Villa Adventura that was also located on the peninsula. It had received great reviews, and she asked if they would comp her bill so she could spend a few more days getting to know the area. Little did Gina realize, but she was top sales person in the US for this other property and the proprietor was more than happy to pay all of her expenses.

She arrived to the sounds, sights and smells of a seaside paradise. The town of Playa del Carmen was not yet developed and the streets were small sandy affairs, but it was plain to see that big things were in store for this little slice of heaven. The only resort at this time was the one owned by the Morales family and it was a beautiful, relatively small building with a huge veranda surrounding the entire length of the open air lobby. Gina was in love with the ambiance and immediately felt at home.

After a 5 day whirlwind adventure hosted by the Morales family it was time to say goodbye to her fellow travelers and venture out on her own. She made arrangement to be taken directly to Villa Adventure where she would be met by the owner Albert. After just a few short kilometers on a paved road the taxi driver turned onto a sandy patch and headed straight into the jungle. Deeper and deeper until there was no sign of civilization, just monkeys, parrots and more and more lush vegetation. Gina's curiosity was peaking with excitement.

When the taxi made a left onto a small road cut neatly into the bordering jungle, she saw an older gentleman in white shorts, no shirt, sporting a craggy beard waiting for them. She stepped out of the cab and Albert paid the taxi driver. There she was surrounded by primitive beauty. The jungle on the back side of the property, several little palm thatched huts placed here and there with hammocks strung on their porches and the stunning tourquese, blue Caribbean expanding for kilometers on either side of the front.

Albert pointed out the second longest barrier reef in the world just 200 yards off shore where the diving was considered exceptional. She shed her shoes and felt the talcum powder coral reef sand between her toes. This, she thought was where she could get her mojo back.

PS Gina became a financial investor in Villa Adventura. She traveled extensively promoting the little property that later grew into 3 other successful resorts on the Peninsula. She returned to Villa Adventura after each trip and spent the next 6 years in the Yucatan by the sea.