Our Dream Holiday In Mexico – Part 1
This is the first post about our holiday to Mexico back in October 2010. It was truly one of the most special holidays in my life. I think Sukh and Shalini would agree that it’s definitely one we remember fondly. Shivam was only a baby then but he has seen the footage of the holiday so many times he thinks he can remember it! I can’t believe it was almost eight years ago because I remember it so vividly.
We had had quite a year. Shivam was born in 2009 and the first few months were spent adjusting to life as a four. I’d decided to take the year off work to look after him. It was great because Shalini had just started school and I was able to do the school run every day myself during such an important time for her.
During my pregnancy, Sukh and I had discussed a big holiday, just somewhere beautiful where we could kick back and relax for a change. Our holidays are usually full of adventure and exploring. But after such a busy year, we just wanted to unwind and spoil ourselves.
So while Shivam was napping I would go online, searching for the perfect destination. I started looking into Cancun. My sister had been there on honeymoon and only had great things to say. I made a shortlist of a few resorts I liked which were slightly away from downtown Cancun. We wanted a family holiday and Cancun is popular for hen and stag dos. So I looked at resorts in the Riviera Maya.
There were two big chains, which really stood out; the Now resorts and Dreams. We settled on the Dreams Riviera Cancun. It just seemed to strike us both straight away with it’s impressive restaurants, pools, rooms and activities.
I came across a holiday company called the Caribbean Warehouse specialising in Mexico and the Caribbean. I gave them a call and got a few quotes. At the same time, I shopped around and got the best quotes Virgin Holidays and Thomson could offer. In the end, it was Caribbean Warehouse that offered us the best deal.
We decided to take Shalini out of school for five days and go a few days before October half-term. Things were a lot less strict then and as she had only just started reception, the head teacher authorised the absence. It was a relief we were able to go during term-time because the price was so much cheaper. In fact we paid just over three thousand pounds for a two-week all-inclusive stay at the Dreams Riviera. That same holiday during the school holidays would cost double that.
The best option was for us to fly from Bristol. Manchester was working out more expensive at that time and there wasn’t a charter available from Birmingham at that time of year.
In the lead up to the holiday, a lot of people asked us why we’d decided to go long-haul and whether we were worried about an eleven-month old on a ten-hour flight. To be honest, the thought never even crossed our minds. Shivam was a really happy baby. He was content at just being left to play or sit happily in our lap. He had a zen-like calmness about him then – a far cry from how he is now!
I had packed plenty of formula measured up and ready to go, food packets and snacks, lots of extra clothes and nappies in my cabin baggage. We had already taken Shalini on a long-haul flight to Goa and Mumbai when she was eleven-months-old too, so it wasn’t something we were particularly worried about.
We were so excited to be finally packed and ready to go. We had booked ourselves into a lovely cottage near Bristol airport and travelled down from Birmingham on a Friday afternoon. The owners would keep our car parked in their driveway and we would head to the airport in a taxi. It was the best option and we preferred having our own car in Bristol to drive home on our return. It was evening before we got there and we had to be up early. We ordered a takeaway in an attempt to get as early a night as possible.
The flight was long but we slept for a lot of it as we were all quite tired. Once we got to Cancun airport, it was a pretty smooth process to collect our luggage and make our way to the transfer shuttle and before long we pulled up outside the hotel.
It wasn’t a lavish entrance or driveway as some of the others we had seen on our route as we dropped off other passengers. However, as soon as we disembarked, we were greeted by friendly staff and taken straight through to the lobby. We were left speechless. It was one of the most beautiful rooms I had ever seen. It was all wood-panelled across the ceiling with a lovely water feature running though the centre. There was a nice bar called The Rendevous and the staff brought over a drink for us while we waited to be checked in. It was a mango tango mocktail and it became the drink of our holiday.
We had booked a room with two queen beds and a tropical view but we preferred to overlook the resort than the outside of other buildings so we upgraded to a preferred club ocean view room with an outdoor Jacuzzi on our balcony.
Dreams Riviera Cancun is not described as an all-inclusive five-star hotel. It describes itself as an unlimited luxury hotel and I think that’s the perfect description. We had never gone all-inclusive before. Something had always put me off doing it especially when there are limits placed on how many times you can visit an a’la carte restaurant or the food and drink look basic. We’ve always opted for bed and breakfast so we can choose where to have our lunches and evening meals. However, all-inclusive is the only option at this hotel and it is nothing less that amazing.
The food was fantastic and the options so varied. There were no limits on how many times you visited a single restaurant during your stay or even per night. One evening we dined at two a’la carte restaurants just because we could!
Our day would begin with getting our swimming gear together and going down to the family pool to grab a nice spot for the day. As we were there during a quiet time of year, we were always able to secure a nice cabana and there wasn’t a mad rush for sun-beds like I’ve experienced on other holidays.
We would then head to breakfast in the World Café, which served an international buffet three times a day. Sukh and I would always start off with a fresh juice made with various greens like kale, spinach, pears and cucumber. It was just a refreshing way to begin the day. I hadn’t eaten pork for nearly fifteen years. I remember going off it when I was a teenager but something about seeing Canadian bacon sat on Sukh’s plate made we want to try it. I’ve been a lover of sausages and bacon ever since!
It may sound really strange but this was also the first time I drank coffee – I mean, properly drank coffee. I had tasted it as a teenager and again as an adult but I remember finding it too bitter and actually disliking the taste. The coffee shop onsite, Coco Café, had me hooked on to its mulata chocolate frappaccinos. After that, there was no looking back. My favourite hot drink now is a mocha. I can’t believe I went more than thirty years without it.
Shalini has always been experimental with food and tried a wide variety of breakfast items. Shivam had been introduced to solids at six-months but at breakfast was happy with half a banana, a few spoonfuls of yoghurt and small amount of scrambled egg. He seemed to take a dislike to solid foods at lunch and dinner. We had bought a few jars and packets of food with us but they didn’t last long.
I remember Sukh and I having to work really hard to get him to eat food from the resort and eventually we figured out he was just interested in food that had been blended. I felt like we’d taken a step backwards but didn’t want to ruin our holiday by worrying. We wanted to make sure he got balanced meals so I would just select the cooked foods I wanted and ask one of the chefs to blend it all together. This way I was sure he was getting enough vegetables, protein and carbs to keep him going. The staff were more than happy to cater to our needs.
After breakfast each day, we would then hit one of the three pools. Shalini began the holiday with floats. She was so confident in the water, diving in, doing forward rolls and holding her breath underwater as long as she could. She made lots of friends and they would swim, chat and play games. By the end of the trip, Shalini was swimming, unaided. She had never had any swimming lessons so we were overjoyed that she’d taught herself this skill. Sukh and I had no part to play in this (apart from making sure she was safe, of course!)
It was Shivam’s first time in a pool and he took to it like a duck to water. He splashed about in his swim seat and giggled as Shalini and the other kids entertained him with their antics. We would only ever keep him in the pool for twenty minutes at a time so he wasn’t exposed to the sun for so long. It was around 32 degrees every day. It would tire him out anyway and he would sleep soundly in his stroller for an hour or so.
If we weren’t swimming, we were relaxing in the outdoor whirlpool. It was a really nice way to end our long days by the pool before heading back to our room to shower and change for dinner.
The outdoor barbeque restaurant, The Barefoot Grill, opens every day around eleven o’clock and even though we had just eaten breakfast not long ago, the sun and swimming always made us peckish. And of course, we couldn’t resist the scrumptious chicken wings.
Every day, a chef would start up a huge wok poolside, where he would begin to cook the most beautiful paella. The smells were amazing and it tasted as well as it looked. It was an added bonus to have fresh fruit platters delivered to our sun loungers by the friendly staff. It was also a nice touch just to order our drinks at the bar and then have them brought over to us.
Part two of our Dreams holiday to Mexico will be coming soon.