Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Mexican Christmas Vacation

Ola, y'all!!  I'm back from a week in Mexico (plus a few days to recuperate).  I went down to the Hard Rock Hotel - Riviera Maya (about an hour south of Cancun) for a week of relaxation, food, fun and frivolity with my parents, sisters, spouses and our ten kids, ages 6-16.  As usual, we were a force to be reckoned with!

This was our third trip with our entire family.  The first two times - 6 and 8 years ago - we went to the Orlando area, rented a house(s) and hit the amusement parks.  With the kids being older, this time we opted for an all-inclusive beach vacay and I'm so glad we did.  This was the first all-inclusive for Brad and I and the Hard Rock has set the bar very high.

There was still no snow here in south-western Ontario but my clan was itching to bring our pasty white bodies into the sun for a week.  Unfortunately things started out rather rough when, as we arrived at the airport in Toronto at 7am, we were told that our flight would be delayed from 10:15am to 2:45pm with no reason given.  Not cool Sunwing, not cool.  We were given $15 food vouchers for our 'trouble' and asked to be patient.  No worries, our clan makes fun wherever we go. Until we were told hours later that we'd be delayed yet again and oh ya, you have to go to another gate to wait so we hauled our brood to the other end of the terminal.

At that point it was a lot less fun because we had ten tired kids who had been awake since 4:30am.  Needless to say we were less than happy with Sunwing (who were still giving no info to their customers) because our 10:15am flight didn't actually take off until 4:30pm making us miss 6 hours of sun and fun (which we had paid for dearly) in Mexico.  We arrived at our hotel, the glorious Hard Rock Hotel, at about 10pm.

After that, things were great because, come on, we were in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort!!  The Hard Rock is where it's at!!  It's a beautiful, huge resort - one side for families and the other named Heaven for adults-only - with beautiful views, gorgeous rooms, SUN and +30C weather!!  While the coast itself is very rocky in that area Hard Rock has built a rock wall to keep the huge waves out which gives their guests a large swimming area to snorkel among the wee fishes who can come and go through three openings.  There was always lots of chaises to relax in too (which I hear is an issue at some big resorts) and very helpful staff.

One of the beach areas
There are pools everywhere, beautiful views and staff that went out of their way to ensure that we were having a great time.  Everyone from the cleaning staff, to the waiters (who brought us our Bahama Mamas, Pink Flamingo, cervezas and Mango Tangos for the kids) to the entertainment staff always greeted us with a smile and a friendly 'Ola!'.

Did I mention the food?  Oh m'gravy.  We ate and ate and ate, y'all!  So much so that I gained 6lbs on this trip.  Gah!  But, in my defense, there is no way you can pass up the opportunity to eat a delicious French meal of delicate beef tenderloin or goat cheese stuffed salmon at Le Petit Cochon (the Little Pig) or a huge Brazilian feast at Ipanema complete with 8 different meats and wonderful rotisseried spiced pineapple (I could eat that bliss all day long!).  There's just no saying 'no, gracias por favor' when you're offered such divine culinary treats.  My boys, they of perpetual hunger yet abs of steel, loved the room service that was all included so there were many times that the kids ordered up some burgers or other treats in the evenings when they were hungry, yet again.  S'all good.  They're on vacation and have the gastronomical fortitude to eat and eat and eat!

For those who have food allergies Hard Rock did a good job by giving us cards that explained peanut allergies in Spanish so the staff could know the severity of the two peanut allergies among us.  There were still instances of language barriers but overall we felt they handled it well.

Sun and fun was the name of the game and Hard Rock came through big time on that front.  From water aerobics, to a visit from Santa on Christmas Day, to karaoke in the main lobby to evening shows with circus performs, fire and drums and even foam pool parties we had a great time.  What's a foam party, you ask?  It's where staff use a foam cannon to spray guests who are dancing in the pool shaking long balloons.  The kids - big and little - loved this!

Foam party!!!!  What a blast!
We also went on two day trips and they were pretty good.  We did a half day in the ancient ruins of Tulum which gave us a good overview of some Mexican culture and history. We also visited two cenotes (sen-o-tays) aka underground rivers that run throughout the area.  We swam/floated through them looking at various rock formations, stalactites/stalagmites while fruit bats flew overhead.  For someone like me who doesn't like tight spaces, having tonnes of rock above her head that 'could' fall down and crush her or BATS I thought it was amazing and I'm so glad that I put on my big girl panties and did it. 

Hard hats and head lights. Check!
Now venture into the dark, bat filled cave. Gah!
The second cenote was pretty as we snorkeled through it but it wasn't nearly as big as we were expecting.  

Boy 1 en snorkel in the second cenote

In this second cenote, it was cool to step off an underwater rock to find a 40 foot drop below you.  It gave you the feeling of flying and I was proud of myself that I didn't let my imagination get away with itself and ponder what was in the deeper, darker depths below me, like some prehistoric Mexican water monster waiting to eat me. Ya, I'm glad I had that imagination in check.  Gulp!

Overall, this was a great trip.  Travelling to and fro was the worst part with the delays both ways but with family, food, a beautiful location and a whole lot of fun in the sun we had a Christmas we'll never forget.  A huge thanks to all of the staff at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya for helping to give us an amazing family vacation.

Me poolside with my mini Bubba Keg.
A necessity to keep your bevvies cold!
I hope you all had a great Christmas and holidays and I wish you all a fantastic 2016!  I'm eager to chat with you about all things book and food in the coming year!

Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions about Hard Rock Hotel and other places/companies mentioned are completely my own.  I was, in no way, compensated for this review.


Janine K said...

Glad to see you had a relaxing holiday - if the kids are occupied and happy, so will you be! It's hot here in Melbourne with 40 deg C expected, so as its my day off,I'm reading!! But I do have 2 baskets of ironing to face later �� Happy new year, may you have a great one and from one library worker to another may you read great books on 2016 ����

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks Janine! Reading on a hot, sunny day. My kind of bliss! Wishing you a book filled 2016 too (The ironing can alway wait!)

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