Sanborns arrives in Playa del Carmen

The new Sanborns department store has recently opened in Playa del Carmen, and we are very excited to introduce this Mexican retail icon to our Condo Hotels guests. The newly built store on Fifth Avenue, just around the corner from Porto Playa, Villas Sacbe, El Taj and Maya Villa, is open for business and ready to welcome shoppers and browsers through it’s shiny new doors.

Sanborns sign

This is not just any store. Sanborns opened its first store in Mexico City back in 1903 and has since become a historical and cultural icon in Mexico.

Originally known as Sanborn Brothers (Sanborns hermanos), the company began as a family business before becoming part of the Sanborns group – one of the biggest chains of stores, pharmacies and restaurants in the country.

The trademark of the franchise, the three owls, represent Mr. Frank Sanborn and his sons, Francis and Jonathan, so the family legacy of the chain continues to this day.

Thanks to Playa del Carmen’s conservative building laws prohibiting high-rises, the building has been developed in an attractive low-rise style, covered with leafy green vines. Large palm trees have been planted at the front entrance, and there are outdoor spaces to relax in after a long day’s shopping.

Sanborns exteriorSanborns seat

Inside, the store has the very best in beauty products, fragrances, electronics, fashion and even has a pharmacy. It also remains true to its cultural heritage by showcasing high quality handicrafts from all over Mexico. If you are looking for a special gift for someone, Sanborns will have what you are looking for.

Sanborns perfumesWooden ornamentslaquer ware

Sanborns is also famous for its cafeteria, and the Playa del Carmen branch is no exception. It has a full service restaurant with a wide selection of Mexican and European dishes, as well as coffees and desserts, with a view of Fifth Avenue  and Av. Constituyentes through the large glass windows.

Sanborns restaurant

My favorite section is however, the cakes. Colorful, artistic creations line the glass cabinets and would make a very special addition to any celebration. Of course, you can also buy cake by the slice, to be enjoyed with a delicious cup of coffee.

Sanborns cakes

For chocolate lovers, Sanborns has a unique selection of truffles, which can be purchased individually or as a hand picked box. If you are looking for a unique dinner party gift, I would say that a carefully selected box of Sanborns truffles, made from rich Mexican cacao, would impress the most discerning host and ensure you are invited back!

With Christmas approaching, there is also a wide selection of children’s toys on offer, including some lovely Christmas themed gifts.

Sanborns Christmas

So for those of you coming to visit us for the holidays, there is no need to bring gifts down with you. Toys, electronics, perfumes and unique local handicrafts are now at your fingertips within a large, air conditioned building ensuring you can do your Christmas shopping in comfort and style.

As the slogan says, “Meet you at Sanborns!”

Enjoying the off-season in Playa del Carmen

I arrived in Playa del Carmen in February, catching the tail end of Playa’s busy holiday season. There was an energetic vibe in the air as tourists and visitors from all over the globe converged on white sand beaches and tumbled out of waterfront beach bars. Posters for festivals and events were plastered around town, and ‘La Quinta’ was a buzzing hive of activity as stores and restaurants overflowed with happy vacationers.

Now, July has arrived along with warmer temperatures and fewer tourists, but I have to say, I’m enjoying the laid back pace of the off-season. Playa del Carmen is a thriving town, with enough locals to sustain the economy all-year ’round, so the place is far from deserted. It just feels like things have slowed to more chilled out pace, and life is moving along less frenetically.

I have to say, I’m a fan of the off-season, and I don’t think it’ll be long before other people start catching on…

For one thing, accommodation is more affordable, with many special offers and discounts available. Condo Hotels offer some excellent deals this time of year that people would be crazy not to make use of. Savings of up to 45% are not to be scoffed at, and can mean being able to afford the sort of vacation you’ve always dreamed of.

el taj condos

It’s not just accommodation that you can save on, however. Less tourists around town means you can bargain more at the stores along Fifth, and get much better deals on your souvenirs and handicrafts. And don’t worry, bargaining is all part of the shopping culture here, so don’t be afraid to haggle hard for a good deal!

shopping playa del carmen

Another gift of the off-season is quieter beaches both in town and along the coast. Visit Xcacel beach south of Playa and you’re almost guaranteed a completely empty patch of sand to relax on; a world away from the commercialism of Cancun further north.

Snorkeling in Akumal bay is a dream in the off-season, with far less tourists occupying the crystal clear waters to observe sea turtles feeding. If you get there early, you may even be the only ones out there, with prime viewing of the majestic creatures.

Akumal snorkel

Mostly, though, I just love strolling the streets in off season, especially around dusk. When the sun drops into the horizon, the sky comes alive in a blaze of orange and pink, it’s the perfect time to be out for an evening stroll. Families gather in the main square, children play in the street, and the local parks host out-door fitness sessions and Zumba classes. It’s great to pull up a bench and watch, or if you’re really game, join in!

playa del carmen sunset

There really are so many rewards for visiting Playa in the off-season, I just wonder why the secret hasn’t gotten out yet. From making use of better deals and discounts, to enjoying a slower pace of life, it’s a great time to travel. Of course, the busyness of the peak holiday season can be fun too, but personally, I like this time of year and the relaxed atmosphere it brings. For me, it’s more true to the Mexican way of life; the manana manana lifestyle that helps me slow down and appreciate the simple things in life like the ocean, good food, and beautiful sunsets.

Playa del carmen beach