With new protocols and the 360° Xafety Model
Its natural wonders continue to steal the spotlight
Xel-Há opened its doors again this July 1st and we were part of this exciting reunion with nature. It was particularly emotional because my family and I have a very special bond with the park. It represents one of our favorite traditions and because I knew it so well, there were definitely high expectations and some jealous reservations: will it still be just as wonderful even with the newly implemented security measures? Here, we tell you what to expect from your visit to Xel-Há under the new normal:
Plan your visit
The first thing you should know is that they have new opening hours in this first reopening stage: Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:30 to 18:00 h. Take this into account when planning your next visit.
Download the app! As part of the sanitary measures, maps and brochures are not available and the app will be your best friend. In addition to being very easy to use the tool, it will work as your GPS within the park (you can even book additional activities and view your tickets).
Before entering the park
We arrived at approximately 8:30 h to Xel-Há. Once in the parking lot, we walked to the ticket office and noticed the many distancing signs along the way. This information was later reinforced by the instructions of the collaborators: 5 ft or “jaguar distance”, they told us. It turns out that these feline specimens reach 5 ft in length. We found this reference to be truly amusing and fun, it really got us into “nature mode”.
After a warm welcome that brightened our day, the staff member who attended us cleaned the bar, offered us disinfectant gel, took our temperature and so we began.
The turnstiles are suspended and instead, they scan your bracelet. Later on, you will reach a ramp filled with liquid… don’t skip it! It’s a disinfecting solution for your shoes or flip-flops and also a new beginning towards “Xel-Há under the new normal”.
Use of face masks inside the park
The use of face masks is suggested as permanent (with the exception of water activities) and as a visitor, you have three options:
- Bring one from home.
- Acquire one inside the park’s stores.
- Ask for a free disposable face mask at the ticket booth.
Important: it’s not recommended to use the disposable face masks since they have a maximum duration of 6 hours and also, as they aren’t reusable, the production of garbage increases a lot.
We arrived at Xel-Há with our own face masks, but once in stores, we couldn’t help but to buy others with creative designs: from jaguars and monkeys to a traditional Mexican doll. These hold from your ears are totally washable, reusable, have three protective layers (microfiber, surgical gown, and cotton) and most importantly… they are extremely comfortable!
Right next to these, you will see some other face masks with the same design in different colors. I had the opportunity to use one of these on a different visit and I definitely recommend the first ones more (those with more creative designs). We wore them with great pride throughout the day without any trouble or inconvenience.
Other products available at stores:
- 1-piece face mask: MXN 59.00 / USD 2.68
- 7-pack face mask: MXN 399.00 / USD 18.13
- 1-piece mask: MXN 249.00 / USD 11.31
- 2-pieces masks: MXN 399.00 / USD 18.13
- Bottle of hand sanitizer gel: MXN 69.00 / USD 3.13
Reminder: There are specific disposal containers for face masks.
The assisted buffet experience at Xel-Há under the new normal
These are some of the food and beverage options you can enjoy thanks to your all-inclusive ticket:
- Xula Vista: International buffet, open from 9:30 to 17:30 h.
- La Cocina del Pueblo: Mexican food, open from 11:00 to 17:00 h.
- La Terraza: a tasty snack bar. As part of the new protocols, it remains closed, but after 12:30 h you can find its menu at Xula Vista.
- El Bar del Puente: delicious cocktails and drinks a few steps from “Xula Vista”, open from 10:00 to 18:00 h.
These were our food stops throughout the day and here’s our experience with the buffets: they assigned us a table and explained that at each station we would find a cook who would assist us in everything, from taking the plate to serving the food we chose.
The influx of people was light (it was pretty early in the morning) and the managers controlled the “traffic” in the different stations to avoid lines. Sometimes we did have to wait a few minutes (not surprisingly, the ice cream station was part of these cases), but the energy and disposition of the chefs and waiters really makes all the difference.
Something I really appreciated was that we could see all the hygiene processes happen… from the cleaning of the tables and their distance to the disinfection of the cutlery and personal protection equipment of each collaborator.
Note: They are very emphatic about wearing the face mask when approaching the buffet area, but once you sit down at the table you can remove it.
Activities at Xel-Há under the new normal
Your visit to Xel-Há, guarantees a day immersed in nature. Walk the floating bridge, the plant nursery, the Path of Consciousness among the jungle, El Dorado Cave, admire the cenotes, and more! The main thing in all of these is to respect the physical distance, these activities are not subject to any other changes.
Something that will surely catch your attention is that in each activity/corner of the park, they will offer you disinfecting gel. This level of attention to detail is strange at first, but comforting at the end.
Swimming in a refreshing river, exploring the inlet or being your most adventurous self at its multiple natural challenges, this park has something for everyone. Trust me.
The best view at Xel-Há! Admire the park’s natural beauty at 118 ft and then get that adrenaline flowing with a full-speed descend through a spiraling water slide.
The entrance is controlled through the plant nursery. There are lockers at your disposal as you can’t take any personal items up (shoes included). At this point, they were very emphatic too on the physical distancing measures and all the collaborators (even lifeguards), wore protective equipment.
Usually, the relatives of those who carry out the activity wait in the pool area (end of the slide). However, right now this is not possible, so we suggest you set a meeting point to avoid waiting in the locker area.
Snorkeling along the river is a must-do activity. It has a gentle current and many surprises along the way, which we will discuss later on.
Just before we entered the river, we left our belongings in security bags (those that we didn’t leave inside our lockers). We were given individual biodegradable bags to safeguard our face masks and it struck me as an incredible detail.
The Land of Huh (bikes) and Jungle Train
To get to the river you have two options: bike through the jungle or board the transportation. We chose to ride the bikes. We could see the disinfection process of each one, before they were given to us (same goes for the helmets and the Jungle Train).
The entrance of the river is simply magical. Have you ever gone swimming surrounded by mangroves? The water starts out sweet and fresh. Later, as you approach the inlet, you will notice the subtle change to warm, salty sea water.
Cliff of Courage, Zip-lines and others
You will find these activities along the river and they are incredible challenges that will become your greatest vacation achievement. From a 16 ft jump to water zip-lines… true natural adventures!
In the Adventure World activities, the main thing is to respect distance. Again, lifeguards wear their face shields and personal protective glasses. The only change we noticed was that instead of offering you a towel to dry your hands in order to get a good grip on the zip-line, they now have disposable paper towels.
The favorite place for those looking to admire our fauna up close! Get your snorkel and discover the more than 90 marine species that live here, including the pink snail, a protected species.
Equipment and facilities
Remember that your admission is all-inclusive, this means that in addition to all the mentioned water activities, unlimited snorkeling, as well as food and drinks, you can enjoy the following:
- Use of lockers and changing rooms
- Snorkeling equipment (mask, tube and fins/flippers)
- Use of floating tires on the river
- Hammocks and resting areas
The lockers are working regularly, and we were assigned two of them, far away from each other to respect the physical distance (these signs are even present on the benches). When you’re finished using it, just deposit the key in the assigned containers.
Under this new normal at Xel-Há and taking into account that visitors have the freedom to enter and exit the water at their convenience, they developed a color system in the modules around the park: used vests go in the red racks; to re-enter the water, take a new one from the green racks, these are already disinfected.
Note: different sizes are available, from XS to XXXXL.
Snorkeling in the inlet of Xel-Há is a must. You can use the full equipment (visor, tube and fins) or just what you think necessary (I always choose not to wear the fins).
Snorkels are sanitized, but you also have the option of bringing your own equipment. At the end of the activity, you can choose to take the tube as a souvenir or deposit it in the red containers around the park.
Note: different sizes of both masks and fins are available.
Inflatable tubes in the river
For those looking to have a more contemplative experience, Xel-Há has the option of using floating tubes to cross the river. To enjoy this experience, you have to go through a different entrance, but don’t worry because it leads to the same river section as the swimming entrance (approximately 5 minutes to get there).
Here, the recommendation is to take your disinfected tire to the beginning of the river and, for your safety, avoid taking another one along the tour. You may find them in their single or double version.
They are still available! Request your towel and deposit it in the indicated containers so that they can be treated again.
Hammocks and resting areas
This was our last stop of the day. The hammocks are disinfected every hour and the distance is not a problem. There is something unique about hammock naps under palm trees, we are lucky to still be able to enjoy this part of Xel-Há.
Finally, I will answer some questions about my general experience:
Did we really take advantage of the All-Inclusive admission at Xel-Há under the new normal?
Yes, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. The alcoholic drinks, the buffet, the attention of the staff, the activities, all met my frequent customer high expectations. We did not feel that our entry price was wasted. I was very proud of their team that despite having an important challenge on their hands (our safety), took care of every detail in order not to distract from the true experience: the encounter with nature.
Did I feel safe during the visit?
Very! “Weirdest” thing was to apply antibacterial with such frequency. As I said, they will be offering you this in each point of the park (sometimes with very little time difference), remember that it is a truly important step in this new normal.
The buffet area was the only point where we had to truly think about the physical distancing, the rest of the time wide spaces and natural areas did their thing: the chairs were well distributed, as well as the flow of people in the river. I really appreciated the level of information from the collaborators.
Did you enjoy your visit?
Definitely. You must know that Xel-Há is my family’s favorite place in the whole wide world, so after telling them how it went, we will surely go together again.
I’m used to being in contact with nature, so this outing really brought me to life and showed me the importance of adapting to change. This new mentality and empathy made it easier for me to follow the new security protocols and we undoubtedly lived an unforgettable day.
Do you want to know more about Xel-Há under the new normal?
Leave your comment and we will gladly answer your questions.
WE’LL BE WAITING FOR YOU WHEN YOU FEEL READY TO TRAVEL AGAIN
Nacida en el paraíso. Apasionada por contar historias, el teatro, la danza y el arroz con leche de mi mamá.