I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. This is a blog about travel, expat life and our adventures living an international lifestyle, with two kids and two dogs!

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Posts by Category: Mexico

Andrea January 15, 2018 posted by

Fun in the Mexican Sun at La Zebra Hotel in Tulum

Looking for fun in the Mexican sun? La Zebra Hotel in the hipster-chic town of Tulum has everything a birthday girl and her party posse could ask for.

Let’s got to Tulum, Mexico!

Tulum, Mexico has always been on my list of places to go. But let’s be honest, what isn’t on my list. ūüėČ Tulum is a hip and tranquil hot spot just a 90 minute shuttle ride from Cancun, and away from the gigantic concrete all-inclusives that line the Cancun beaches. Tulum has been the go-to spot for New Yorkers escaping the cold bitter winters for years (says a New York friend of mine). Mix that with a bunch of Los Angeles entrepreneurs opening boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, and yoga retreats, and you have one chic little town. So naturally, I had to see what all the cool kids were talking about.

When I decided to have my 40th Birthday in Tulum, the only thing I needed to decide on was which hotel was going to host this epic celebration. This was a bit of a stressful task. I had 12 women coming and I wanted to make them all happy. In the end, I was deciding between three hotels but I finally decided on La Zebra Tulum.

La Zebra Tulum is part of the Colbri Hotel Group, which has four hotels in Tulum. La Zebra checked off all of my boxes. It was right on the beach, and had a good restaurant & bar. The rooms were nicely decorated and modern, and it wasn’t extremely expensive. It also seemed to have the overall vibe that I wanted – barefoot in the sand, chill and fun.

Looking for fun in the Mexican sun? La Zebra Hotel in the hipster-chic town of Tulum has everything a birthday girl and her party posse could ask for.

Booking at La Zebra Hotel

When booking my reservation for our large group I worked with the hotel directly. No. I did not ask for a media rate or discount of any kind. I was not “working” – this was my BIRTHDAY! I was not interested in owing them any sort of coverage or social media mentions. Nor did I want to burden my friends with that sort of thing. I was a regular paying guest. However, they did give me a small group rate discount since I was booking so many rooms. I paid for the rooms and had my girlfriends pay me directly. It was easier that way then them booking their rooms. I wanted to actually pay for a portion of their rooms as well, I mean – they were coming all the way to Tulum for me.

I am not sure of the number of emails that went back and forth, but towards the end it was A LOT. They helped me coordinate transportation and even a day of activities to the Tulum Ruins and the Grand Cenote. They were so helpful and responded to all my inquiries quickly. I am sure they were eager to meet me, the crazy 40-year-old lady and her 12 friends!

Arriving at La Zebra was so lovely. We were on the main road that goes through Tulum for about 15 minutes when the van stopped and pulled into the small driveway of the Hotel. There was lush greenery surrounding a small desk and a gorgeous zebra wall behind. I knew instantly I made the right choice, and I hadn’t even got out of the van yet!

The Rooms at La Zebra Hotel

Once I did get out of the van, the lovely ladies at the front desk were anxiously awaiting me because they had a surprise for me. They had upgraded me to the penthouse beachfront suite for my birthday! This amazing suite also came with a gigantic hot tub, which would later be the crazy party tub all weekend long. My birthday is in September which isn’t exactly high season in Tulum. It can be the rainiest month, so I took a real gamble. But in the end it was so worth it, because I am sure that suite is probably usually booked! I was so appreciative of the upgrade. My two roomies were sure to love it as well! One of my girlfriends had brought a few decorations for my room, including a Happy 40th Birthday banner which she hung above my bed.

One of the things I liked about the rooms at La Zebra is that you can have three people to a room, there is a king bed and a pull out sofa bed. This also makes it family friendly if you want to bring a kid or two. This may have also been the reason I choose this hotel too. As someone who usually travels with kids, I am always trying to find accommodations that are well-designed and cool for families too! But this weekend was NOT for families. Trust me. ūüėČ

La Zebra has a variety of rooms to choose from at different price points. The ground level suites have dipping pools and you can either have an ocean view or be a bit further back on the property and have a garden view. To be honest, I liked the garden view suites because they were a little more tucked away and felt a bit more private. Also, when you’ve had enough of the sun and beach it was nice to retreat back to these rooms. I booked us all rooms with a dipping pool and at night we sat around one of these dipping pools drinking wine or tequila. It was perfection!

My penthouse beachfront suite balcony!

The Beach at La Zebra Hotel

The beach area for La Zebra is just outside your door. They have the cutest beach and bar area in the sand. There are plenty of day beds to choose from, and they also have these old boats with comfy pillows for lounging. Need a drink? The servers come to you – just put your sign up that says “Over here!”, “I need a drink”, or “SOS”. There are also a couple of swings, a large net hammock and a small seesaw for little kids. (Not that I’m not working…) 

Restaurant & Bar at La Zebra Hotel

Even if you are not staying at La Zebra – you should definitely come to check out their restaurant and bar. We had breakfast every morning and everything was fresh and delicious. I loved the little meringues that they gave with their cappuccinos! It’s little details like that, that just make me smile. We had dinner here two of the three nights and since we were there on a Sunday night we got to also take in the Salsa dancing. La Zebra hosts Salsa dancing lessons every Sunday night, and the place was packed! Locals and people from other hotels come to enjoy this night and the energy was incredible. So was the dancing!

*There is also a pool and a relaxing sitting area above the restaurant and away from the beach. This was a great place to retreat to as well, it is quiet and partially shaded. We had this whole area to ourseleves one afternoon.  



Las Mujeres

I brought together women from all different chapters of my life. Some knew each other but some did not. This was another gamble, but this group of ladies could not have hit it off better! Everyone gelled and got along from the moment they met. This is probably what made me the happiest the entire weekend. My friends having fun together and the fact that they took the time out of their busy lives to come down to Tulum to celebrate with me.

The staff referred to us “Las Mujeres” – ‘The Women” – during our stay. They certainly responded quickly whenever we needed or wanted anything, and were never more than five feet away to do anything for us. They were awesome. There are many pictures of this weekend I will refrain from putting in this post and should probably not go public. But to say we had a good time would be an massive understatment.

**BUT if you want to see some wild out takes you should definitely watch the video of my 40th Birthday Celebration in Tulum created by LIFIE, the coolest video editing company ever! (But again, I’m not working!)

La Zebra Hotel

If you cannot already tell – I LOVED La Zebra Hotel. and I don’t think it was just because it was my birthday. When I stay at hotels I really observe everything and make mental notes of all the little extras that some people might never see. I love a hotel that has personality, is creative, fun and stylish. If I am being honest, the name sort of threw me off and I thought it was a bit cheesy at first – but now whenever I see a zebra anything it will remind me of this hotel and my incredible experience with my girlfriends. In fact, I bought a zebra maraca at the airport, it was the one and only thing I bought in Tulum. It’s in my office and I see it daily. It is the perfect reminder of all my friends and the intense laughter we all shared that weekend.

I wanna dance by water ‘neath the Mexican sky
Drink some Margaritas by a string of blue lights
Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight
Are you with me, are you with me?
Are you with me?

Walking on the beach every morning seeing scenes like this, gave me chills.

The girls crowned me La Chica Reina on my Birthday night!










Fun in the Mexican Sun at La Zebra Hotel in Tulum
Andrea October 4, 2016 posted by

Enchanting Luxury at Hacienda Petac, Yucatan Mexico

Hacienda Petac, Yucatan Mexico

As the taxi pulled through the gate and slowly drove down the long driveway, my eyes lit up and my mouth fell open when I saw all of these vibrant fall colors welcoming me.  I had arrived at Hacienda Petac and for a moment I could have sworn we were driving into a beautiful painting hanging in an art gallery. I was already in LOVE with Hacienda Petac before I even set foot on the ground. This feeling of warmth and surprise stayed with me over the next few days, and only started to fade when I was back in that taxi and he slowly pulled me away.

Hacienda Petac is a five-star luxury estate just outside of Merida, Mexico in the Yucatan peninsula. This magnificently restored hacienda sits on 250 acres of beautifully maintained land with enchanting gardens, lush landscaping, tropical plants, exotic flowers and gorgeous trees. It is a historical oasis that offers an extraordinary experience for all of your senses. The hacienda is a luxury vacation rental for groups, and can only be rented in its entirety. It has 7  bedrooms and can sleep up to 14 people making it the ideal location for large family vacations, intimate retreats and special occasions.

As I explored the grounds when we first arrived, I made my way to the back of the hacienda and saw this rustic archway from a distance. As I walked closer I began to shrink but my heart began to swell and tears came to the surface of my eyes. I caught my breathe and took a few minutes to soak in the magic of where I was standing. Moments like this are a true gift and fill me with such joy. It also let’s me know I am somewhere truly special.


Historic Hacienda

Hacienda Petac was a working hacienda from the mid 1800’s to 1974. First as a sugar plantation then as a henequen (hemp) plantation. The current owners bought the estate back in 2000, and the renovations and restorations took over three years to complete and then opened for guests in 2004. The hacienda is usually only rented for a week at a time and is often used for weddings and large events, but they do have a few girls weekend getaway specials!


Hacienda Petac Amenities

The property has a relaxing pool area and the staff is on hand to provide you with towels, beverages or light snacks as you relax poolside. There is also a small luxury spa offering a variety of services, a small gym and a large jacuzzi outside with an outdoor sitting area for relaxing. On the other side of the property there is a sophisticated game room with large leather chairs, a card table and pool table. This room looks like a classic cigar room where the men might retreat to after dinner for drinks, that being said, it is also very kid friendly and has many board games for the entire family to enjoy.

Photo by Keryn Means, walkingontravels.com 

When I took a dip in the pool late one afternoon I asked for some coffee. I thought she might have put it on the table near the lounge chairs but she delivered it to me right as I swam up to the side of the pool. If you know me, you know I love coffee, and well, having it delivered to me poolside in a beautiful coffee cup and saucer was just dreamy!



Hacienda Rooms

Each bedroom is very spacious and has an ensuite luxury bathroom.All guest rooms are furnished in their own unique style but come with all the modern amenities you would expect to find. There is also a relaxing patio area just outside the rooms and they will ask you what time you would like your coffee delivered to the patio each morning.

My room was in the building that was an addition to the original building and a bit more modern but still very true to the typical hacienda style of the rest of the property. This particular building has two bedrooms with a fantastic tv/entertainment room in the middle that separates them. My room had a large king bed while the other room has two queens beds, which makes for a great area for those traveling with children, I could easily see this being the kids wing if traveling with multiple families.

They provide laundry service daily and it was as if little fairies had come into my room each time I left. Taking away my laundry and towels, putting away my toiletries and organizing any other items that were left out. They would decorate my bathroom with fresh flowers, and stepping out of the shower onto flower petals was just another special treat.



Exquisite Outdoor Dining

The Hacienda is a full-cater estate with an excellent staff that prepares all of your meals. The menu is filled with regional Mexican cuisine that includes traditional Mayan flavors. For every meal we sat down at a table that was carefully decorated with colorful dishes and fresh flowers picked right from the gardens. I thought that they might have done this just for our very first breakfast to really impress and welcome us, but they did a different presentation and set up for every meal. We also asked if they were doing it for us because we were a group of writers, but no Рthis is the standard and they do this for all of their guests. They assured us we were being given the exact same experience as anyone who stays at Hacienda Petac.


Cooking Class & Cocktail Creations

While lounging by the pool was nice, we also had the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get in the kitchen! But before I get into the food, did you see the blue tiles in the kitchen!!? Fabulous. Every inch of this place is designed and styled to perfection. Our cooking class was taught by the hacienda’s incredible house manager Colleen and two of her lovely staff members.¬†Some of these women have worked on the property for 13 years.¬†The entire staff is like family and takes pride in bringing the traditions of the Mayan culture to life here at the hacienda.

We learned to make the traditional Yucatan dish, Panuchos, bean-filled tortillas that were then fried, (we made the tortillas and stuffed them) then layered with lettuce, cabbage, and chipotle shredded chicken and topped with slices of cucumber, tomato, onions and avocado. This was an entire group effort and one of my absolute favorite things we did, says the person who does not cook! We also mixed up two cocktails, the spicy Hacendado and the refreshing Paloma. Cooking classes are not included in your stay but can easily be arranged.


Excursions & Extra Experiences

Excursions can easily be arranged through Hacienda Petac. The hacienda is located about 30 minutes from the colonial town of Merida. Merida has many restaurants, art galleries, shopping and is a nice place to stroll around for the afternoon and early evening. Other popular activities in this area are visiting the Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza or Uxmal as well as taking a swim in one of the many cenotes (a natural swimming hole) that this area is very well known for. You can also go on a guided bike tour and kayak through the mangroves.

As I mentioned, the hacienda has an incredible house manager, Colleen who handles all the details of your stay. She can help you create your itinerary, set up excursions and handles any special requests for your group. She speaks Spanish fluently, is a wealth of knowledge not only about the hacienda but Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula. She is one of the main reasons our stay was so flawless. She makes you feel like family from the moment you arrive until the moment you depart.

On the last night of our stay Colleen had us serenaded by some of the most famous musicians in the Yucatan, Los Tres Yucatecos. This trio has been playing together for more than 30 years and it was the perfect way to end our unforgettable stay at Hacienda Petac.


Staying at Hacienda Petac was an extraordinary travel experience that touched on everything from luxury, service, culture, history, style, taste, relaxation, and nature. It was honestly one of the most memorable places I have ever stayed, truly a dream. If you are planning your epic 40th Birthday party, a family reunion, a special anniversary, girls getaway or an intimate retreat and want to be blown away, then this is the place for you!

As the taxi slowly started to pull away, I looked out the back window, waved to my friends and silently said to myself, I’ll be back someday.

For more information visit Hacienda Petac
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Disclosure: This was a full media stay for a travel writer / influencer trip.

Enchanting Luxury at Hacienda Petac, Yucatan Mexico
Mexico September 15, 2016 posted by

48 hours in Mexico City!

I met another expat mom and fellow travel writer, Katja Gaskell from Globetotting.com at a blog conference last year. We’ve known each other in the online world for awhile but had never met in real life. She is a British mom who has been living in Mexico City for four years and before moving to Mexico City her family lived in India. I’ve always been intrigued with Mexico City, it’s SO BIG and I’ve always heard the food is amazing!

Katja encouraged me to come visit her and since we would both be going on the same writing trip to Merida, Mexico later that year, I added two extra days to my trip to get a quick taste of Mexico City. This is a Mexico City weekend guide for anyone that has limited time and wants to know some of the quick highlights and most importantly, where a local eats!

Mexico City Weekend Guide

Mexico City has several neighborhoods all with their own distinct personality and I was staying in the neighborhood of Condesa, a trendy little neighborhood with lots of popular restaurants, shops and buildings being renovated with new modern apartments. Condesa also sits right next to Roma another charming neighborhood with so much going on it is now split as Roma Norte and Roma Sur. Roma is also a popular area for restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping. The three other neighborhoods I was able to experience were the¬†cobblestone streets of¬†Coyoańáan, the historic El Centro and the posh streets of Polanco (aka the Beverly Hills of Mexico City).

Parque Mexico & Parque Espa√Īa

The first morning we took a walk through Parque Mexico & Parque Espana and I was both thrilled and a little shocked to see such a tropical oasis in Mexico City, it  made me feel right at home like I was back in Costa Rica! There were so many people walking their dogs, jogging and even working out at an outdoor gym right in the park.

Katja told me that the walkway is in the middle of Parque Mexico goes around in a complete circle, because it used to be an old horse track. Hearing this, made me get up the next morning to go for a run. Is it weird that this might have been one of my favorite things I did in Mexico City!?

The sun was just coming up when I left and it was lightly raining, so running in between all the lush green plants and the rain sprinkles hitting my face was so refreshing! I also watched as the city woke up, parents walking their kids to school, people walking their dogs and coffee shops just opening their doors. The benefit of getting out early is that you really get to see the city as it wakes up.

Lalo Mexico City

Our first stop for food was at Lalo! in the Roma Norte neighborhood. A colorful restaurant with a long community style table running right down the middle of it. This place was buzzing and as we made our way to our seats my eyes were darting around the table looking at all the gorgeous plates of food! We both ordered the chilaquiles. And this was my FIRST time having chilaquiles Рshocking I know! This was not only an impressive presentation but incredible in taste too! I am sure my next plate of chilaquiles will never be as good as this one.


Coyoańáan, Mexico City

It took a solid 20 minute cab ride from Roma Norte to the Coyoańáan area. Here you will find Casa Azul, the Frido Kahlo Museum. I have always admired Frida Kahlo for living a life with such passion and fortitude while living in such pain. The museum is the actual home where she lived with her husband, Diego Riviera, the famous Mexican muralist. You get to take a tour through their home and see exactly how they lived. It is a small gallery and museum with a nice courtyard outside. One of my favorite parts of the museum was seeing her dresses and the restrictive corsets she would have to wear underneath them. I could not imagine the pain she went through everyday.

From Casa Azul I walked just a few blocks down to the Parque Coyoańáan where I sat for awhile and just watched people go by. This is an older neighborhood and where you’ll see more traditional Mexico, with street vendors and the large Mercado de Coyoańáan. As I wondered around the cobblestone streets I stumbled into Casa de Luna, a small boutique filled with unique artisan crafts, pottery, jewelry and small gifts.


La Celestina & PAN

La Celestina is a small cafe where I stopped for a drink and tried their spicy mango Mezcal. I sat inside facing the street but behind me was a small lounge area with library style decor. From there I went inside PAN to drool over all the pastries and baked goods. Sugary goodness for DAYS and it was packed inside.

Mexico City Tree of Life Sculpture Wanderlust Living
Tree Of Life

I was so happy to accidentally run right into a “Arboles de la Vida!” (tree of life). I was a little lost and ready to find a cab when suddenly I saw this gigantic piece of art. Only later did I learn that a tree of life is a traditional clay sculpture that used to depict specific stories of the bible, but now many of the modern creations have simple themes that have no relation to bible stories. Sometimes getting a little lost can be a good thing!

La Capital Restaurant Condesa Mexico City

La Capital Restaurante

Hello incredible food. If there is one place you should eat in Mexico City it is La Capital.¬†I did not take many food photos because I was too busy enjoying the food and conversation with the fabulous group of people Katja assembled for dinner. I managed to take a few photos, but they just do not do the food justice so I prefer not to show them. You’ll just have to trust me (and Katja) and get here yourself.


El Centro, Mexico City

Apparently you cannot go to Mexico City and not see the Zocalo, the center of Mexico City and one of the largest squares in the world. Truth be told, the only reason I wanted to see it was because of the spectacular opening scene of the celebration of d√≠a de muertos in the latest James Bond movie, Spectre.¬†We walked around the Zocalo a bit and went inside the Metropolitan Cathedral but then quickly moved on to the Palacio de Bellas Artes.¬†The Palaciao de Bellas Artes is a performing arts theatre and the inside is well known for it’s art deco style of arcitecture. It also has several beautiful murals displayed inside including the famous and controversial “Man at the Crossroads” by Diego Rivera. If you are lucky enough to see a performance here, you will see the one and only stage curtain that is not actually a curtain, but made a foldable panel made of all stained glass weighing 24 tons! ¬†However, you don’t have to have tickets to a show to see this, there are paid guided tours of the palace which includes seeing the stained glass curtain.


Downtown Hotel Green Living Wall Mexico City
Downtown Hotel

Three reasons to visit the Downtown Hotel, the unique shops on the second floor, the vertical garden or living green wall at Padinos and the beautiful trees that fill the courtyard in Azul Restaurant. You do not have to be staying at the hotel to go inside, you can of course dine at Padinos or Azul Restaurant, but we just took our time browsing the gorgeous shops and marveling at the beauty of the courtyard.


Polanco, Mexico City

After our little speed tour of the El Centro area Katja dropped me off in Polanco to fend for myself. Known as the Beverly Hills of Mexico City, this place was quite the scene. The streets are filled with expensive luxury cars and valet drivers running her and there. The sidewalks are lined with trendy cafes and the finest restaurants. Everyone here is dressed to impress. Men were getting their shoes shined while having lunch meetings and tables were filled with stylish women that looked like they just stepped off the cover of a magazine. I found a cozy sidewalk cafe to sit and have a glass of wine and watch as the important people of Mexico City went by. Both satisfying and entertaining.

I also wandered into the beautiful El Péndulo Cafe & Bookstore where you could see more locals browsing the books, on their laptops and getting their afternoon coffee fix.

Lardo Mexico City


We actually stopped into Lardo in the morning to grab a coffee and pastry before jumping in a cab to start the day. Which is why the bar is empty and I was able to get this photo, but when we went back at night this place was packed! Lardo is one of the hottest restaurants in Mexico City. This is chef Elena Reygadas’ second restaurant in Mexico City, her first is the popular Italian restaurant Rosetta. Luckily Katja and her husband frequent this place a lot, so we were able to grab a spot at the bar just as one was opening up. We shared small plates, a bottle of wine (or two) and chatted while watching the chefs in action right in front of us.

Mexico City has always been on my must see list, I know that I only scratched the surface on this quick trip, but I covered a lot of ground thanks to my friend Katja. Having a local guide you is like having a fast pass to some of the best of the best. 48 hours in Mexico City was just enough to make me want to come back for more!


48 hours in Mexico City!