[twitter]Is there such a thing as the ‘dog days of winter?’ If they do exist, they’re coming. You’re in the dog days of summer now, but trust me.. it’s time to start thinking about winter vacations.
The escape is much closer than you think. The all-inclusive resorts of the Mayan Riviera offer a safe, clean, kid-friendly place to kick back and relax while topping up the tank with some vitamin D.
When Cancun started to get too crowded, the tourist board of the region looked at a long stretch of beachfront south of the city as a target for expansion. Originally planned for 30,000 hotel rooms, the Mayan Riviera now has 28,000 rooms and there is talk about expanding to a mind-boggling 80,000.
You fly in to Cancun, but this is not spring break in Cancun with bumping bass beats and beer bongs of your college days. South of the city things are different.
The region has been built with a focus on the environment. There is spectacular snorkelling at Xel-Ha, zip lining adventures at the Xcaret theme park, Mayan ruins to be explored at Tulum and Chichen Itza and local flavour to be sampled in Playacar.
As I start planning our February spring break vacation, I’m dreaming of our Mexican escape from January 2011. Originally we thought about booking a vacation rental property in Puerto Morelos, a sleepy fishing village just south of the airport, but with a one-year-old and three-year-old in tow, we opted for an all inclusive resort where we didn’t have to worry about sourcing our own food or cleaning up after ourselves.
We chose the Barcelo Maya Palace, one of five resorts on Barcelo’s property just south of Playa del Carmen, because of the resort’s family-friendly environment. It has two huge pools for kids with slides, fountains and tunnels. It has two kids’ clubs with activities planned for children from nine in the morning to eight at night. Crafts, songs, sports and cooking were all part of the program that is mostly targeted to kids five and older, but were just as engaging for our nearly four-year-old.
Now with the boys at 6 and 4, I think it’s time to head back.
Tips For Your Family Mayan Escape
1. Vacation with another family or relatives.
It may be a vacation and time in the sun, but when you’re still in the roundhouse routine of feeding, bathing and dealing with tantrums from your toddlers, you can’t fully relax. Having some family or friends along on the vacation offers you built in babysitters so you can have a true night off and at the same time the resorts are big enough that you can have separate vacations.
2. Leave your toys at home.
Ask your resort about beach toys. You may not need to pack an extra suitcase of diggers if they sell small bags of sand shovels and buckets for $5 like ours did.
3. Don’t be embarrassed.
A few nights our kids had tantrums in the restaurants after long days. We hurriedly left and apologized to those around us and were greeted with a “Don’t you dare!” from one Nana-aged woman. In a family resort you’re surrounded by other families who feel your pain.
4. Get off the resort.
The Mayan Riviera has much to offer for families with kids. Visiting cenotes, snorkeling at Xel-Ha, swimming with dolphins, climbing Mayan ruins or spending a day extreme theme-parking at Xcaret offer diverse distractions for kids who might get bored with the beach and pool after three days. The Mayan Riviera is home to world’s second largest coral reef (behind Australia) and there are many excursions to snorkel the coral.
This post was first published on Man Of The House in February 2011. The site has since been taken offline, so I have republished it here.