Trip Report: Spring Break 2020 ⛰️🏖️

Just got back from a 3 and 6 day trip to Whistler and Cancun! Here’s a quick trip report.

Backstory: School work is winding down in this last semester of college, so I took the plunge to buy an epic pass and a solid set of snowboarding gear. This was around last October. Between then and January is also when everyone started to plan spring break. I really wanted to go both snowboarding but also have a “classic” college spring break on the beach, so this trip was born.

I’ve always been a pretty last minute planner so executing a tight itinerary like this came with a bunch of bumps, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Whistler

Flew Delta from DTW to YVR, with a layover in MSP for ~22k UR. I was overlapping with a friends’ trip at the same time, so I planned for 2 days solo and 2 days at their Airbnb.

Unfortunately, a snow storm hit DTW and my flight was delayed by several hours. It ended up looking like a 40 minute connection, and I had Chase’s travel insurance anyway, so I took my chances.

Waiting wasn’t too bad - the Delta DTW lounge was quiet and stocked with plenty of cup noodles.

The plane was delayed by another 30 minutes on the runway, so I had to spend spring break day 1 in Minnesota. Fortunately, the trip delay insurance makes this stress free. I stayed at the Radisson Blu at the MoA for ~$220. The room was nice, but the lobby was really fancy like a posh club - enough to make the waiting uber eats delivery people look out of place. Food was also covered, so I also got room service; but the food was pretty meh.

Room service 1

MSP’s Escape Lounge was very nice, also not too crowded with decent food.

Finally, got to Vancouver. Getting from the airport to Whistler was incredibly painless. I downloaded a Poparide, which is a Canadian rideshare app, and found a driver within an hour. Then I took the sky train, which accepted contactless card, to Burrard to meet my driver, Sandra, who also helped me with a bunch of helpful recs around Whistler. The whole way, I was shocked at how helpful tech was integrated into the process in Canada.

Drive

I booked a last-minute deal for ~$130 through the resort website and was randomly placed with the Tantalus Lodge. The room was really homey with a kitchen, couches and a separate bedroom - it probably could have squeezed in 4 more people.

Notes:

  • The view from every part of the mountain was gorgeous
  • The peak2peak gondola just seems like a crazy feat of engineering
  • Food at the Whistler mid-way point was pretty good, but expensive

Whistler view

Lessons were great - I had no idea what my skill level was coming in, but my instructor Paul was very accomodating. The first day, we started on the bunny slope training ground, had lunch at the peak of the gondola, then had a run back to the village in about ~40 minutes. Making it down to the bottom for the first time, after constantly falling, is so satisfying. After the lesson, I got a bit over confident and went back up to the peak - throughout the run my legs were about to give up on me.

The second day, I matched with a different instructor, but at the top we saw Paul again and they were like “whatever, let’s trade” so I had another day with Paul. This time, it was two students, and the other person left during lunch, so I had my own one-to-one lesson with him.

It was clear he was testing my limits - going through mogel fields, shortcuts through trees, and runs with extended flat terrain, and I fell almost constantly. Each run had small victories - like clearing a quick turn around bumpy terrain or building enough speed to make it through (and not fall) through a flat stretch.

My last day, after a hearty breakfast,

hearty breakfast

I went with friends exploring different parts of the resort, starting with little whistler peak (I’ve never been this high on a mountain), then some green/blue paths on Blackcomb.

Whistler peak view

The flight back went smoothly, clearing a 1-hour connection in MSP (I didn’t know you could do customs in Canada before going to the U.S.!), back to Detroit, about 11 hours before my flight to Cancun. I visited the YVR Plaza Premium lounge, and it was terribly crowded; would definitely not pay to go in. You can see the difference…

yvr lounge

Cancun

Our group decided on Fiesta Americana, which was ~$630 including flights (Spirit & Delta) from DTW to CUN via Expedia.

Overall the flight and lodging was not bad - expectations were set for a pretty standard budget spring break. The beach, pool areas seemed small, but it wasn’t crowded and we had enough room for our group of 15 to sunbathe, pool volleyball.

We found easy deals on Expedia to get a 10-person bus for ~$22 one-way from the airport to our hotel. Getting to the clubs is an easy 10-minute walk, and there are convenience stores everywhere.

Notes:

  • Merged with another group and booked a sail boat for ~2.5k for ~40 people total to Isla Mujeres. It was a good time - lots of alcohol, crystal clear waters - until the boat workers tried to steal one of our phones. boat
  • Booking the boat let us get a $10 off deal for a 30 minute jetski for a total of $45 - overall a good time, but not sure if it’s a good deal.
  • We went on a 13Baktum tour to Chichen Itza, and I would never recommend this company to anyone. We were picked up around 7 am, while the bus waited until 8 am at a nearby hotel before departing. The tour guide was difficult to hear and openly flamed our group while we were napping to the rest of the passengers. We started the day off by wasting 2 hours to several sales scams in a fake souvenier village.

But anyway, around 1pm we made it to Chichen Itza for a 1-hour tour and an hour to explore, which itself was cool with interesting history. We then had an hour to relax in a cenote, and 40 minutes to explore the town of Valladolid. I felt that we wasted so much time in the morning that we could have otherwise used to explore the cool locations we went to.

chichen itza

Overall, Cancun was a good time with friends, but too touristy. I felt that we had to try hard not to get ripped off on anything.

Maybe next time - instead, at a nicer resort or a place in the city, and getting a rental car to explore the outer areas with some more freedom.