The Mexican Caribbean has always been a hugely popular tourist destination for American travelers.
Boasting miles on miles of tropical coastline, a world-renowned hospitality industry, and luxurious resort zones, it is their go-to spot for relaxing and letting go of their mundane worries.
This year, however, this popularity seems to have soared to unprecedented new highs, leaving us wondering whether ‘shoulder season’ is even a concept still applicable to the region. That is particularly true in a trendy beach town that’s witnessing a record increase in bookings.
Playa Del Carmen is already filling up for winter, and travelers are now being advised to book their year-end getaway as soon as possible before they’re left out:
There Are Far Fewer Rooms Available This Winter Already
Following the start of the school year, it’s normally expected for bookings to decrease as families return home from the holidays and resort communities slow down operations in preparation for a much busier winter.
In that sense, 2023 has been rather atypical, as numerous destinations in Quintana Roo, especially those straddling the Mayan Riviera, have been recording a high number of hotel reservations as early as September.
A small beach town a short one-hour drive south of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen is no exception.
According to data gathered by the Cancun Sun, the leading news source on everything Cancun, 40 percent of rooms in Carmen are already filled for the peak season, which comprises December 2023 through February 2024.
September has been traditionally less busy, but now reservations are beginning to build as early as the fall period, with vacationers anticipating the high winter prices and either taking trips during the shoulder months or booking their winter getaway well in advance.
That seems to be the case for a majority, as highlighted by Osner Arjona, President of the Association of Small Hotels of Playa Del Carmen, who was quoted saying the town already has a ‘movement of reservations’ for late 2023 and early 2024.
This trend is expected to intensify further in October, the busiest month for winter bookings, as prices begin to increase and undecided tourists are forced to either make a decision or miss out on their Mexican Caribbean experience altogether.
The fact that bookings already sit at a whopping 40% should be perceived as worrying for those who plan on jetting off to Playa del Carmen this winter, as we are still early on into fall, and vacancy is already down significantly, as low as they would have been normally later in the year.
There is simply no way of telling how much lower occupancy rates will be come October or November.
The Longer You Wait, The Less Attractive Getaway Deals Will Be
While Carmen is unlikely to sell out completely – there are far too many accommodation options to consider, from luxurious resorts to more affordable AirBnB listings – the main concern here is the fluctuation in prices.
The higher the occupation rate, the more expensive accommodation gets, as a result of decreased competition and surging demand, so that is why you are advised to make those reservations right now, not only to secure the best prices, but also a beachfront spot.
Still, you may be wondering why exactly Carmen is suddenly on everyone’s radar.
Why Is Playa Del Carmen So Popular?
Carmen has a high concentration of luxurious resorts, wellness centers, and entertainment venues that place it at the front of the Mexican Caribbean’s tourism offer, up there with Cancun and Tulum.
In fact, one could even argue these three beach zones complement each other, with Cancun serving as the entertainment capital, Tulum the cultural heart and nightlife spot, and Playa Del Carmen the more laid-back alternative.
When going abroad, Americans strongly favor destinations where it’s easy to go and where they can get pampered without worrying excessively about the complexities of planning an international trip. With only 11 days of paid vacation on average per year on average, they want an all-inclusive vacay.
Carmen’s well-equipped resort zone gives them just that, with all of their favorite hospitality brands like the Hyatt, Thompson, Fairmont, and Marriott (just to name a few) having set up residence on the pristine coast.
Other than the ancient Mayan ruins and indigenous culture, the Mexican Caribbean is often associated with the five-star beachfront properties and the thin, white-sand beaches bounded by turquoise-colored seas, all boxes Playa Del Carmen effortlessly ticks off.
As it is much smaller than Cancun, it has a reputation for being more exclusive, though it is not exactly as quaint as the lesser-known Akumal: thousands flock to its bars and beach clubs every weekend for a taste of the (in)famous local nightlife.
It Is Extremely Safe
Another reason why Carmen has been exploding in popularity is the high level of safety, following improvements made by the current administration, responsible for the revitalization of the tourist zone, and deployment of more police to critical sites.
Due to the increased surveillance and zero-tolerance approach towards criminals, it is now one of the safest resort towns in Mexico, following years of being ill-reputed as a dangerous place for tourists.
The Cancun Sun went as far as stating Carmen may be added to the ‘Magic Neighborhoods’ program, a designation awarded by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism in recognition of an area’s cultural, historical, environmental, or economic significance.
The town will also be easier to get to from Cancun this winter, as it will be a stop on the Maya Train route, a new scenic railway linking all of the main tourist hotspots across the Mexican Caribbean, yet another factor that is certain to boost tourism and impact on hotel occupancy.
All things considered, it’s best you book that getaway sooner rather than later.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com