As we close another year and look forward to all the promises of a fresh new beginning, I wanted take a moment to reiterate the importance of periodically taking a vacation from the norm (pun intended).
I recently took a trip to beautiful Mexico with my husband and I was reminded of how wonderful the feeling of disconnecting from the everydayness of life was.
We stayed at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya Resort and Spa – and all I can say is, wow! It was by far one of the largest resorts we’d ever been too! The hotel had five lobbies with trains trekking tourists from one lobby to another so that you didn’t have lose a foot walking the extremely long distances between each point.
Here’s the view from our lobby looking out: it was breathtaking.
And here’s another shot of the inside of our lobby. One great thing about travelling during the holiday season is that the hotels do such a nice job with the decor.
This was another breath-taking view from atop one of the bridges on the resort.
We were generally quite pleased with all of the amenities this resort had to offer, but one big thing fell short: the beach.
Now the main photo of this post shows a beautiful morning silhouette of the beach from a distance, but up close, it wasn’t so appealing. There was excessive seaweed on the shores (see image below) and a putrid smell emitting from the waters which was comparative to a sewage – ick.
Luckily this odour was contained to only one small section of the beach, but I personally felt that it took away from the overall experience. We have seen much better beaches in Jamaica, for example. Beautiful, white sand, with crystal clear waters. But I can appreciate that it can’t always be great at every destination. You win some and you lose some.
The resort had an enormous wading pool which seemed to never end. We spent most of our time poolside.
Also, while the weather was great (except for one day where we got rained out), the ocean was not very cooperative. The waves were especially rough near the shore and it became difficult to do any water activities such as kayaking or snorkelling, which was too bad. The most engagement I had with the ocean was simply when the waves crashed onto my feet as I strolled along the shore.
Now, if you’re a water person, then the ocean being choppy would not bother you, because you’d be spending most of your time under the water anyway. My husband is an avid scuba diver and explored some incredible dive sites on this trip.
From the Cenotes to nine-foot sharks (yes, really), the beauty of aquatic life was all captured on camera.
Watch the breath-taking video here:
Having said that, diving is most certainly NOT for me. I appreciate the sport for what it is and what you can experience, but it’s not for everyone. So my hubby and I have come to an understanding anytime we go down south – while he’s out exploring the sea, I’m usually tanning on the beach…or getting a fake tattoo.
I have to admit, the guy did a pretty good job for drawing it on. For a minute, I contemplated getting a real one, but then the feeling faded just as fast. (ha!) I think tattoos are pretty cool, but personally, I feel uneasy with the idea of something being permanently etched onto my body. This was a happy middle ground where I could enjoy what it’s like to have a tattoo but knowing that it will eventually disappear.
And these little critters were all over the resort! I believe they are a hybrid between a racoon and possum. I like furry things and they were harmless, but I did get a little nervous when they congregated on the beach in large numbers!
And what good would any resort be without decent food? I’m happy to say that the food was fantastic at this resort. I have no complaints. The selection was endless. There were six a la carte restaurants to enjoy, three large buffets and a 24 hour snack bar right on the beach.
We couldn’t possibly go to Mexico without having Mexican food! These tri-coloured chicken burritos were on point!
And the resort staff knows how to serve food with style: one night for dessert, my cheesecake came with it’s own set of musical notes!
We couldn’t go to Mexico without going off the resort and into town. We took a shopping tour one day which took us to three destinations, the Jewelry factory, the Tequila factory, and the tourist district of Playa Del Carmen. The latter was the most entertaining stop of the three. While it was nice visiting the jewelry and tequila factories, the sales personnel hovering behind us with a shopping cart the entire time, really took away from our experience. We get it – you don’t want anything being stolen, but guess what? By practically attaching yourself to our hip while we try to browse your store is not going to help either!
As mentioned, the final stop made up for all the hassle. This part of Playa Del Carmen was like what Times Square is to New York. It was such a busy, lively part of town with tons of shops and restaurants.
Below is the beautiful tree that was erected right in the center.
One thing that caught our eye was the fish spa. And it was just that. Fish massaging your body. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? (Insert sarcasm here).
Pardon the poor quality of the picture below, but it was really fascinating to watch these people happily getting all the dead skin on their toes removed with the help of dozens of fish nibbling at their feet. I would imagine it would tickle quite a bit! I don’t think I could bring myself to do it – I’m good with cuticle cream. 🙂
As we meandered through the district, we stopped at several gift shops and came across this. You know you’re in Mexico when you can buy tequila in a gun-shaped bottle!
While it was a fun experience roaming the “Playa strip”, I wanted to reiterate one important thing: any time you go off on your own in an environment you are unfamiliar with, always be cognizant of the locals that might try to harass you. We never had any issues with hecklers at the resort or on the beach, but in town, there were a couple of instances where locals were “politely” trying to lure us with the ploy of trying to “show us something”. Thankfully, our street smarts came into action and we never once entertained them. Don’t ever take the chance because you do not want to risk getting mugged or worse.
Overall, we had a great time and I would highly recommend visiting Riviera Maya and specifically the Grand Palladium. The resort staff was extremely courteous and friendly, the room was very nice and well-kept and the wifi was surprisingly for most of the trip. The one thing we had a hard time with was meeting other people. Unlike our other vacations where we’ve met some wonderful people – this resort’s sheer size kept that from happening for us. It was just too big! It’s definitely something to keep in mind for future reference. If you are big on meeting new people on vacation, then perhaps opt for a smaller resort. Everyone was just too spread out at ours that we couldn’t properly build a rapport with anyone. We would meet someone one day and then never see them again! We know now that we would prefer to go to a regularly-sized resort – perhaps with only one lobby where everyone flocks too!
Here’s hubby and I after dinner one evening.
As I publish this post, it is now officially New Years Eve, so on behalf of my family to yours, I wish you all the very best in 2016!