After my trip to Europe, I felt pretty guilty that I had gone on a trip without Alex, so I decided to surprise everyone for Christmas and book a trip to Mexico.
Thanks to a colleague, I got a great recommendation to book an all-inclusive at the Xcaret hotel in Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya.
I booked the trip in the fall and then had to wait until Christmas to tell everyone about it! Unfortunately it wasn’t as much of a surprise as I had hoped; Alex knew I had made a big payment to our credit card so he assumed I had booked some sort of vacation for us all.
We went in the middle of February, which was the perfect time. On the day we left, Toronto was experiencing one of its coldest days (-25C!) so it was nice to leave the really cold weather behind us.
It was the twins’ first flight and first time leaving the country! The flight itself was better than we expected, although we were delayed leaving Toronto because we had to wait to be de-iced so everyone was getting a bit antsy.
The resort itself was amazing. The hotels and associated parks were designed by a Mexican architect, so there was a lot of attention to detail and a concerted effort to bring nature into every design.
The food at the hotel was also amazing. There were a table-service restaurants to choose from that we booked in advance, but the majority of our meals were at the main buffet restaurant. The kids really liked the food, but we found meal time to be the most challenging. Buffet sounds great, but it meant that I would get all the kids’ food, then grab my own meal, and then sit with the kids while Alex grabbed his. This method alone wouldn’t have been that bad, but the kids also seemed to have to go to the bathroom the second we arrived at the buffet, and of course never at the same time, so by the time we did multiple bathroom rounds, the kids were often done eating and ready to leave before we even got anything to eat. It’s still triggering…
There were plenty of swimming options around the resort. The beach wasn’t much to call home about, but we spent a bit of time with the kids playing in the same. To create an enjoyable beach, they built these massive rock formations that blocked the waves of the sea and created calm, internal beaches that were very enjoyable to swim in.
Our favourite pools were the main infinity pool and the children’s pool. The children’s pool featured an octopus-shaped set of waterslides that everyone enjoyed! Adam was pretty independent and would just go down and up, over and over again. The twins were too little to go by themselves, so we all had fun on the waterslides together.
The infinity pool was quite central and was a popular choice by resort guests (although it was never too busy). We would try to go to the pool at least once a day and Adam really loved the swim-up bar. There were a few food options and everyone enjoyed giant coconuts from the coconut guy.
At the resort there were also a few activities, including kayaking. We kayaked on our last day at the resort and thoroughly enjoyed it. The design of the resort had these beautiful, tall rock formations (some even with waterfalls!) that separated the resort from the ocean, but still used the ocean water for its internal beaches and waterways. Kayaking was very easy as a result, as the waters were perfectly calm and we could easily explore the waterfalls, rock formations and beaches.
But the best part of staying at this resort was access to its theme parks. There are 8 theme parks in total, located in and around Playa del Carmen. Only 3 of the 8 parks were suitable for young children: the main Xcaret Park, Xenses (pronounced “senses”), and Xel Ha. For the closer parks, a themed bus came by the hotel every 15 minutes to bring guests to and from the parks. The further parks had to be booked in advance to secure a spot on a larger bus.
Xcaret Park was relatively close to the hotel, so we spent 2 mornings at this park, as there was quite a bit to see and do at this park and it catered well to small children.
We spent another half morning at Xenses (pronounced “senses”). This theme park was a total mind F. The main attraction was a Mexican main street build on an angle to look like you were walking uphill, but you’re actually walking downhill (there’s a small stream that flows “uphill” as a result). It was surprisingly nauseating.
Xel Ha was about an hour and a half away from the resort and was a full day commitment, so we only spent one day there. We were a bit worried about spending the whole day there – especially given how wild our kids had been during the trip – but it was such a great park that we powered through.
Travelling with 3 small children definitely had its challenges. We were exhausted and fed up by the end of the trip, but it’s funny how we now look at pictures and videos and (mostly) remember the good parts.