An assortment of Los Angeles-based film bloggers and print journalists are presently enjoying a gratis, all-expenses-paid visit to the 2015 Riviera Maya Film Festival. The seven-day event is based in Playa del Carmen, the Yucatan beach town 30 miles south of Cancun and 200 miles north of Belize City. I tried to offer my…uhm, “promotional” services to Sunshine Sachs publicist Brooke Blumberg, who did the inviting, but she decided to invite every name-brand columnist in town (Sasha Stone, David Poland, Scott Feinberg, et. al.) except me…thanks! She apparently doesn’t like me or suspects I’d be more trouble than I’m worth or something along these lines. Not true! I am perfectly willing to shill for any film festival that will fly me there and put me up, etc. I write really well and can give the same kind of handjobs that other journalists give when they visit places for free.
Hotel Platinum Yucatan Princess in Playa del Carmen
This morning I got a message from Stone, who’s down there now and staying at the Hotel Platinum Yucatan Princess, which offers the exact same kind of luxurious decor and feelings of well-tended splendor offered by every other luxury hotel in the world. (I stayed in a place almost precisely like this in Hoi An, Vietnam in 2013.) May I ask something? What is the point of travelling to an exotic location if you’re going to stay in a place that’s a carbon-copy duplicate of every other luxury habitat around the world? It’s the Club Med approach to travel…the Kardashian way. Has anyone read Conde Nast Traveller lately? With slight variations every luxury hotel in the world looks exactly the same. The body snatchers have branched out — they’re now designing hotels.
I’m all for clean sheets and good wifi and security and attractive decor, but when I visited Playa del Carmen in 1990 it had a wonderful small-town atmosphere, a funky village-by-the-sea vibe. Now, to judge by photos and whatnot, it’s almost turned into Cancun, which I recall as one of the most rancid, Vegas-like environments ever created.
If I was prostituting myself for the Riviera Maya Film Festival I’d want to stay in a small little hotel on the beach, a modest Mexican-styled place with a nice outdoor restaurant that serves “werewolves Lon Chaney” (i.e., my private term for huevos rancheros), shaded by palm trees and renting boogie boards and paying some guy to play flamenco guitar in the evening. The kind of place that would allow people to light bonfires on the beach when the sun goes down…homey, people-scale, a place with a little home-grown personality. But that’s me. 95% of today’s travellers want the Kardashian experience.
It is better to have the camel inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.