March 13-20, 2006 ∙ Mayan Riviera
This was our first experience with all-inclusive. While it felt outlandish at times, it was nice to grab piña coladas and ice cream whenever we wanted them. We also went to a nice selection of restaurants for dinner...Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, churrasquería...and Rich and I did a gourmet adults-only restaurant that was filled with replicas of great works of art.
We did one excursion with the boys...went to a park called XCaret. The highlight was swimming all together for 45 minutes through a man-made cenote and emerging to find a lovely beach on an inlet with calm water and a short swim to the dolphin cages. They had animals, including jaguars, an aquarium, a replica of a Mayan village, and a riveting cemetery with colorful tombstones and inscriptions. We ended the night with el espectacular mexicano...fun but by the end it became the "espectaculaaaaargo" (it was nearly two hours long).
Babysitting at their kids club was included in the package for children 4-12 from morning until evening. We tried to sneak Jordan in as a 4-year-old but got caught. So we hired a babysitter to stay with him and Ben during our own excursions.
Our own excursions included tandem parasailing off the resort beach...and an "off the beaten path" (All Tour Native - a great company with excellent excursions) one that offered the following: a reckless drive to the Mayan jungle with, ironically, dead stops for the speed bumps; zip lining over some trees and a lake...canoeing and then hiking to a genuine cenote; swimming in the cenote (with a "Mayan" shaman offering a prayer with incense beforehand); hiking back to the van for the drive to the town Tres Reyes where we rappelled down the side of a mountain; consuming an authentic Mexican meal (with mole, empanadas, tortillas, arroz con frijoles, and jugo de tamarindo); driving out to the Cobá ruins (only 5% of which is currently unearthed/discovered), taking in a 30-minute guided Mayan tour and then biking 3km to Nohoch Mul and climbing the 136-foot pyramid. Incidentally, there's no more climbing at Chichen-Itza because apparently a woman fell to her death so they stopped allowing it. This pyramid, Cobá is actually taller and is not along the tourist route, so we felt lucky to be able to climb it.
We also packed up some bags and walked 30 minutes along the shore with the boys out to Punta Maroma, hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, presumably where Tom Cruise almost got married. Anyway, when we got there, we encountered beds on the beach with big umbrellas and giant pillows and were told that we couldn't stay because we weren't paying guests. I'm guessing it was at least $10,000 a night per person. So we trekked back to our lowly :-) resort, dove into some piñas, and hung out at the beach.
The weather was perfect! There was this constant breeze at the beach that reminded me of the trade winds in St. Croix. And it was an incredibly bonding and memorable experience for the four of us. We recommend the Iberostar Maya all-inclusive resort to anyone with or without kids. (By the way, we were greeted in the lobby with drinks and a room upgrade!) An excellent resort with great food, nice facilities, and beautiful beaches. And we found that being fluent in Spanish not only helps you get around easier, but you get pleasantly unexpected perks.