The second home market in Mexico is hurting, and headlines like the one out today are not helping. Seven people, five Canadian tourists and two hotel workers were killed at a five-star resort on the River Maya at Playa del Carmen, near Cancun, on Sunday. At least fifteen others were injured when a gas leak exploded in a maintenance area beneath the 672 room Grand Princess Riviera Hotel. The dead include a 33 year old Canadian real estate agent celebrating his honeymoon in Mexico; he was in the hotel lobby getting coffee for his bride, who, with her daughter, escaped injury. One guest reported smelling methane gas but, like most of us, ignored it because well, honestly, sometimes parts of Mexico do have that swampy smell. This leak may well have come from a nearby swamp under the hotel in numerous underground limestone caverns. The blast took out the hotel’s reception area and today, everyone is grateful that it didn’t occur later when hundreds of people might be checking in.
Playa Del Carmen is considered one of the safer parts of Mexico, and this appears to be a natural tragedy, NOT a drug cartel explosion. Still, I have always been wary of staying in those uber huge hotels — 672 rooms! — worried that a guest might smoke or fall asleep with a cigarette. That’s one of the reasons why I love vacationing in smaller boutique hotels or private homes.