Cancun and the “Wristband Economy”

If you ask anyone in Texas where they go on vacation, Cancun always comes up in the conversation. Cancun is like the Las Vegas of Mexico. It’s easy to get there, easy to get to your hotel, easy to stay in your hotel and if you dare to leave, there’s a zillion excursions from zip lining to pirate dinner cruises. You don’t have to speak Spanish, have pesos or really do anything that you would have do if you were in real Mexico. 35 years ago, this little tourist mecca was created just for foreigners and to  this day it has flourished and spilled out almost all the way to Playa del Carmen.

Cancun is good fun. Where  else can you find an insane nightclub like Coco Bongo? Where  else can you smile at a camera and 5 minutes later be presented with a Corona bottle with your picture on the label? However, there’s not a lot of money being pulled out at the ubiquitous all-inclusive resorts One soon realizes that they need a strap around their wrist if  they desire passage to any nightclub or all-inclusive hotel. I call it the Wristband Economy.

Wristband Economics is not dissimilar to  branding cattle. The color of the band that you put around your wrist immediately identifies you to the establishment as being one of their herd or not. No one needs to look at your key or ask you for magic passwords. As you enter the door, the workers know everything about you with one glance. Many all inclusive hotels have different levels of service. If you paid more for your room, you might have a gold band or some other color than the “economy” clientele. This enables you to enjoy a higher level of service, automatically receive the luxury brands of liquor, rather than the Mexican rot-gut rip-off brand of vodka or rum.

As a former magician, I can’t help but look for loopholes. When I realized years ago that the only way to get into  the pool at Mandalay Bay or Hard Rock was by showing a room key to the gate-keeper, I started keeping my room keys. With a wallet full of Las Vegas hotel key cards, you can visit just about anyplace you choose until they change the design. So why not with arm bands?

I’m not condoning dishonesty or stealing from hotels, but let’s say that you’ve been to Temptations resort in Cancun and the following year, you’ve decided to stay somewhere else. You might want to pop by and see if you have any friends at the pool. Guess what? You can’t get in without a wristband. A day pass wristband at some resorts can cost $75-100. I say use the old one! Hotels are not unwise to this, so the bands are put on tight, left on your arm the duration of your stay and then cut off of you as you leave for the airport. The solution. Use a pair of scissors and cut the band clean before you leave the hotel. They’ll assume someone already cut it off your arm. Carry a little bit of Velcro in your bag and you can turn that temporary bracelet into reusable one.

If you want to have some real fun, order different color wristbands on eBay. They’re cheap and if you get one in every color, you can pretty much get into anywhere you choose. You can actually fix them up with velcro or 2 sided tape so they can be used over and over. The exception are venues that scan bar codes printed on these bracelets. These scans are usually reserved for night clubs or concerts where admission is expensive and the establishment is concerned about forgeries. You can order the plain tyvek paper bands and the metallic looking bracelets in a variety of colors. You can even order the rubber wristbands in almost any color you choose. It is rare that anyone looks very closely at these bands. Just look at the people leaving and match your band with the color on their wrist. As I’ve said before, I enjoy this sort of thing just to see if I can pull it off, rather than to steal from establishments. There is a hotel in my area that requires an armband to use the pool area. Last time I stayed at the hotel I kept mine. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of that bracelet.
You can actually use this idea almost anywhere. Chances are no one will be suspicious. No one expects a person to have access to wristbands of every color. What normal person would think of that? You do have to have the confidence and mojo to pull this off. Hesitating at an entrance or looking nervous forces workers to examine you twice. Being confident and moving your body or adjusting your clothing so that the gatekeeper catches a glimpse only is the best way to be successful. Looking at entrance keeper and starting a funny conversation distracts them a little and makes them assume that you are supposed to be there.

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