This Travel Tuesday takes us to sunny Mexico! My incredible beau has done very well at work and actually won the salesperson of the year award, which earned him (and me!) a trip to Mexico. We were in the Playa del Carmen area for a quick but lovely vacation.
Sunday was mostly spent traveling. Since the trip was already so short, I wish we could have gotten on an earlier flight…but not complaining about a free trip ha. By the time we got through customs and travelled to the resort (about a 40 minute drive from the Cancun airport) it was 2:45 PM. We checked in, got the lay of the land and spent some time at our private pool.
That’s the thing about this resort…it’s comprised entirely of private villas. Each villa has a hammock, pool, and outdoor soaking tub. No need to go to the main pool when you have something like that in your backyard! Albert had to attend a meeting at 5:30, after which we were both going to a dinner, so after a quick swim it was time to start getting ready.
The dinner was held on the beach, catered by the Sands restaurant. It was lovely. Honestly, it felt kind of like a beachside wedding…one I would have loved to attend. We grabbed our escort cards (on starfish) and dined family style under paper lanterns with electric cellos playing in the background.
We were pretty tired from traveling so once dinner was over we headed to bed around 11 PM.
I woke up and headed to the gym. I actually love working out on vacation. It makes me feel better about eating and drinking so much and always offers up a change of scenery. After getting in a good sweat and enjoying the fitness center amenities (infused juice! cold scented towels!), I met Albert for breakfast. While we didn’t stay at an all-inclusive resort, the company kindly compensated many of our meals, including breakfast each morning at the Oriente restaurant. I’m so happy they did because this was probably the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen. There were breads and cheeses. There were cakes. There were fruits and fresh juices. There was a pancake/waffle/french toast station. There was a full buffet of eggs, bacon, different potatoes each day, and more lunch-y items like chicken mole. Finally, there was someone making all varieties of mini quesadillas to order (everything from chorizo to squash blossom).
After breakfast, we headed off to our excursion. All trip attendees were offered 4 excursion options that included a tour of ruins and spa treatments. We had signed up for the longest excursion, one that took us on an ATV ride through the jungle, along ziplines, and to a cenote for a swim. It was my first time riding/driving an ATV and I loved it! It was also cool to swim in a cenote, an underground cave filled with rainwater underneath limestone rock. The whole thing took place in a park called Emotions and we even learned a bit about Mayan culture while we were there. We ended with lunch before heading back to the resort (about a 20 minute drive).
Once we got back to the resort we went for a quick swim at the pool by the beach before getting ready for the evening. At the last minute, the company organized a tequila tasting that ended up being really fun. We sampled four different types of tequila along with some really really tasty mini tacos, empanadas, and guac.
Our tasting ended with a Mayan ceremony. I guess it’s something that happens at the resort each night, with a toot on a conch and some prayers to the gods. Since we had a group there, they did an extended version with a full dance for us.
After the tasting and performance, ten of us headed to Saffron for supper. The entire resort has some Asian influences, including this restaurant, which served traditional Thai food. The food was wonderful and the setting over the water was gorgeous.
Our day was go go go from the very beginning so we passed out pretty quickly after dinner.
Once again, I started the day with a workout. This time, Albert joined me and we headed to breakfast together. Not gonna lie, that breakfast buffet was a highlight of the trip. I loved putting the mole or stewed beef on top of my eggs. Everything was fresh and delicious.
There were no activities planned for the day so we took our bikes all around the resort. What we thought would be a quick ride turned into nearly 4 miles. We checked out el Pueblito, the city’s town center (built in 2016 and consisting of a church, coffee shop, two cafés, and a store which sold surprisingly nice tableware and clothing. After our long bike ride, we dove right into the pool, grabbed a cocktail, and then enjoyed a late lunch of ceviche and tacos on the beach.
The trip’s big sendoff party was that night and was Dia de los Muertos themed. The company had set up face painters and people got surprisingly into the theme. Not knowing many people, I was a little too nervous to get my face painted or go all-out for the party, but I had managed to find a perfect dress at Zara two nights before the trip. It was off the shoulder with a slit so it was evocative of traditional Mexican dress…but it was seersucker so it was still Southern, like me. I paired it with fushia block heels and some fun earrings I bought that day at el Pueblito.
The party was held in the el Pueblito square, which had been transformed. They really did a fabulous job. There were about six different food stations, a great band, and a very cool performance.
After the party, a few of us headed into Playa del Carmen to go dancing. I had no idea what to expect, but it basically looked like some combination of the Vegas strip and The Grove in LA. Larger than life bars and restaurants and even an outpost of the Thompson Hotel and Catch restaurant. After dancing at a club for a couple hours it was time to go home. Asleep at nearly 2 AM only to wake up very early the next morning…not easy, but what a way to spend our last evening.
This was just a travel day. Our bags were being picked up from our villa at 7:45 AM and our shuttle to the airport was at 8:45 AM. All we had time to do was one last breakfast at that incredible buffet.
Playa del Carmen Details:
- Accommodations: We stayed at Banyan Tree Maykoba. The resort was absolutely lovely. It’s Mexican with Asian influences – not an expected combo, but it worked. I’m typically nervous when a place veers out of their lane. What does a Mexican resort know about Thai food, for instance? But they made it work. Even better, they did it well. The rooms were stunning. Each room is actually a private villa, which felt secluded and luxurious. It’s not all-inclusive and the pool drinks are pricey, but I would definitely recommend this place.
- Neighborhood: I think Mayakoba is technically a city…but it’s a city that’s comprised of about seven resorts. You can bike or golf cart to any of the other resorts and can find anything you’d need – beach, food…is there anything else? – within the walls. That said you may want to take a cab out to nearby Playa del Carmen if you want a “hot spot” vibe.
- Weather: The weather was perfect the whole time we were there. It was within the 80s the whole time – perfect for laying out.
- Get a massage. I never made it to the spa, but every single person who did said that they had the best massage of their life there. Keep in mind, this was said by New Yorkers who have been to some of the best spas in the country and, as advertising people, have gotten to do it on somebody else’s dime, so that’s high praise.
- Check out the cenotes. These underground pools are special to the region so it’s cool to see, especially if you can take a swim in one.
- Enjoy a late breakfast at the buffet. I’m not sure how much the breakfast buffet costs, but it’s packed with everything you could imagine. I highly suggest maximizing your dollars by filling up at a late breakfast (they serve til 11). Then all you’ll need is some guac or ceviche by the pool as a snack to tide you over til dinner.