Cloud 9 press

Mayan Holidaze (feat. Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee, STS9)

RELIX - January 28, 2011

The Mayan Riviera is a tourist corridor on the Yucatan Peninsula that stretches along the Caribbean coastline in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, from some point just south of Cancun (as in “Spring Break!!” ) down to the once-walled fortress of Tulum. While the corridor itself has been a popular vacation spot for decades, it didn’t get its name until a marketing campaign in 1999 branded it with the alluring title. I didn’t know any of this, really, until I looked it up while sitting in Terminal 3 at the San Francisco International Airport, around 7:30AM, last Thursday. Twelve hours later (well, ten if you adjust for time zones), I would arrive in Cancun and hop on a shuttle headed to the Mayan Riviera’s northern gateway, Puerto Morelos.

I was a tourist alright, but for a different kind of tour — this was the location of the first Mayan Holidaze, a music festival produced by Cloud 9 that featured multiple sets by the Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee and STS9 along with support by the Album Leaf, 30db, Orchard Lounge, Bonobo and Emancipator. It’s a boutique festival, for sure — an intense experience for an intense crowd that listens to intense music. All in the most relaxed setting imaginable, of course. Like the Yin and the Yang, the one balances the other.

With just 496 rooms at the resort, Mayan Holidaze was completely sold out from the start; and, yet, undeniably intimate in every way. It didn’t matter that nobody carried their cell phones with them — finding your friends was as easy as finding the Weather Channel on a hotel room television set. A couple flips and you’re there. Besides, just about everyone on site was already your friend. Or about to be your friend. Or a friend of your friends. Don’t roll your eyes: this is solid fact (albeit with few, but real, exceptions).

The boys on the shuttle from the airport were a prime example of the reason why Holidaze works — these were kids I’d probably never talk to randomly at a bar, unless, by chance, we were all there to watch a football game and happened to be rooting for the same team. At Holidaze, we weren’t only rooting for the same team — we were actually on it. First string. Starting lineup. All stars. Game of champions. Not two minutes down the road from the airport, these boys had cracked open beers and were reviewing their playbook, looking for the right move that would get them checked in and settled without missing the first notes of Umphrey’s.

I missed the first notes of Umphrey’s. After being escorted to my room by golf cart (a service extended to all Now Sapphire guests), I changed from my city clothes into vacay-wear. That included changing the stare in my eyes from the pinpoints of a neurotic traveler — weary from a full day of flying clear across one country and into the next — to retinas modeled after glazed donuts, still warm from the oven. In other words, as soon as I checked in, I checked out. Gone were thoughts of that miss back in California that doesn’t know what she wants. Gone were concerns about whether or not I felt comfortable with where I had arrived in my career. Gone was the constant anxiousness about what my next move should be should I decide to move on to the next and leave the city that I’ve called home for the past three years. Gone were personal matters, big and small. One glance in the bathroom mirror of Room 816 and all that was gone.

To continue reading the recap of Mayan Holidaze, click HERE.