Inn Keeper’s Winter Vacation to California and Mexico | Captain Freeman Inn

by Donna Cain

Byron taking a picture on the Tulum beach

As seasoned inn keepers of 13 years, we have spent most of our past winters remodeling our two properties, the Captain Freeman Inn and Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa. As young innkeepers, it seemed more important to remodel a bath or the inn’s mechanics then to take a vacation:) Now that we have recently sold Brewster by the Sea and have most of the heavy remodeling done at the Freeman, it seemed appropriate to start planning for an annual winter vacation. I think vacations are so important for all of us to get away from the stress of our everyday lives, to reconnect with loves ones, to let our minds and bodies rest and to experience fun new places. We are on the last part of our wonderful vacation in Mexico, and I had to smile this morning when Byron said that we are  “soft adventure” kinda folks. Now this is coming from a couple that loves to explore and has a few aged muscles:)  We love recommending “soft adventure” tips for our guests. They say that most bed and breakfast owners attract similar kind of guests to themselves, which I believe to be true. Many of our guests come to whale watch and bike which are the perfect “soft adventure” activities to enjoy while staying at the Captain Freeman Inn.

Brian and Charlie from Old Manse, Mario and Angelo from Candleberry, Amy from Brewster by the Sea, Debbie from Sea Meadow Inn plus us!

This year we decided to combine an inn keeping conference in California with a quiet beach vacation in Tulum, Mexico. The conference was extraordinary in that we learned many new things and came away with new ideas on how to be better innkeepers on Cape Cod and how to bring guests to our wonderful slice of heaven in Brewster. The conference was held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. This grand old ship offered a great back drop to learn and visit with other innkeepers. The ship was filed with beautiful, original common areas that were beyond grand. For an interesting history of the ship along with the Scorpion submarine which is moored close by see the interesting tidbits attached.

Queen Mary Moored next to the Russian Scorpion Submarine

Amazingly, all of the Brewster Inn keepers were at the conference, and we had some fun photographic opportunities while all being together. What a great group of folks, and we feel that Brewster is the best inn keeping town on Cape Cod.

These innkeepers are waiting in line to use the old fashion phone as our cell phones were not working….. not really! After 4 days of schooling we headed to Mexico. This year we chose a quaint 7 room Boutique Hotel in Tulum center. Beautiful beaches were just a short bike ride away and the town was filled with wonderful eateries. The Prada hotel advertises itself as a eco boutique romantic experience, and they did not disappoint. We especially enjoyed the healthy breakfasts each morning, and I was able to convince Byron that we should do fresh squeezed orange juice again at the inn. Several years ago we switched to Pomegranate Cranberry Juice as it seemed to be a fun trendy juice for our guests to enjoy. But after having old fashion fresh squeezed OJ each morning I am a new believer that again, OLD FASHION and FRESH is always best. We rented a car so that we could explore many of the wonderful ruins close by and every afternoon we came back to enjoy a swim and relax by the pool.

Pool at the Prada Hotel

Now this is what vacation is all about, and it made me realize how special our pool is at the Captain Freeman. After a hot day of beaching or exploring it’s fun to relax by a pool. We are also added some new features this year to include salt water, a new liner, a waterfall and my favorite- a new fire pit for our guests to enjoy smores.

During this vacation we also clarified in our own mind of what a true boutique inn or hotel is…… it usually is modern and chic, there is also usually a full service restaurant and bar and in most cases there is a high ratio of employees to guests being available to get whatever you may need. I had to smile as these  innkeepers are just two but we usually do a pretty good job of getting what our guests need. I do like to say that while our inn is not a “boutique inn” we do have lovely “boutique rooms” that are all different and tastefully decorated, ALWAYS keeping in mind comfort and luxury for our guests.

Now onto our adventures….this was Donna’s turn to choose our vacation, and I decided upon this location mainly for the Mayan ruins that are close by. Each day we chose a new location to explore with visits to some beautiful lagoons and Cenotes sprinkled in for an afternoon swim.

Cenote (pronounced “Say-note-tay”) is a naturally formed limestone sinkhole. The Yucatan Peninsula, including the Riviera Maya, has a vast river system that flows underground throughout the area. Over the course of the centuries, portions of caverns and the the limestone roof that supports the waterways has weakened, and in some places collapsed, creating cenotes.

We chose the Grand Cenote and Byron especially enjoyed the geological adventure. The water was warm, and I stayed calm when I saw a few bats sleeping on upper walls(:

Grand Centos

We went to several Mayan ruins but our favorite was the Coba pyramid. We rented bikes, rode through the jungle AND climbed to the top. I am a little afraid of heights and was afraid at first, but how could I turn down this “soft adventure” to climb to the top. Happy to report that we made it up and down safely.

The view from the top was humbling…. to say the least.

We had a wonderful bike ride through the jungle to get back to our car…..

passing several smaller ruins.

Truly amazing!

Our lovely host recommended that we spend one day in the town of Valladolid and Sunday felt like the perfect day to visit this beautiful Mexican town that is know for it’s  natural beauty, cultural and historical relevance to the country. We loved the town’s cathedral and sat in the back to enjoy several baptisms,

and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a beautiful old fashion courtyard.

It was a hot day, and so we ordered two refreshing smoothies. Yum…..the food committee from the Captain Freeman met over lunch and decided that we have to bring some new smoothies for our breakfast selection at the Freeman….coming spring 2017…..

And in keeping with our eco philosophy, we are ordering metal straws for our smoothies from our daughter’s store, The Boston General Store.

The main attraction in Valladolid was for us, the Casa de los Venados (House of Deer). It is a 18,000 sq foot private home/museum of Mexican folk and contemporary art owned by John and Dorianne Venator. (My girlfriend Phyllis would have loved this place!) Our private tour guide, Manuel gave us an extraordinary tour of this building along with interesting historical information about Mexico.

We learned that skeleton figures in Mexican Art are a way of honoring and respecting the dead.

Shown below is the welcoming wall art as you enter the home that was transported and put back together like a puzzle.

This little blue guy was a favorite,

and the courtyard a wonderful place to relax and take it all in.

My favorite outdoor space in the home.

An incredible treat…..thank you Jesus Manuel Mena Romero for a wonderful tour. We certainly will look you up next time we visit.

Leaving the best for last……my most favorite part of our vacation was floating down the Muyil Lagoons.

A tour guide ferried us over to a lagoon where we floated through a narrow stream leading to the ocean. It was magical, calm, full of nature, and I didn’t want the experience to end!

On our last day here we decided to relax at the hotel by the pool and have a nice relaxing dinner at a new restaurant down the street. It was authentic Mexican with a Habanaro sauce I will never forget! Also loved a refreshing cold drink made with the Jamaica flower. After looking it up realized it was very similar to a Hibiscus Tea that we serve in the summer as Ice Tea.

We have an early flight home tomorrow and are anxious to see how the winter renovations are coming with  the new tea room and new baths in Truro, Wellfleet and Orleans. We were very comfortable leaving all the renovations in the trusty hands of our wonderful contractor Derek.

Hopefully we’ll have walls in Wellfleet as this picture was taken 3 weeks ago.

We are also very anxious to be reunited with our lovable Labradoodle Harrison.

Heard we may be getting snow next week…..that’s OK, we are just excited to be going home!

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