Finding a family vacation spot is one of the most time consuming jobs as a parent. Accommodating various interests, ages, and food preferences is a demanding feat. Don't fret, we've discovered your next family getaway. My husband and I recently spent the weekend at the Now Sapphire Resort and Spa in Riviera Cancun, Mexico. Named to inspire living in the present, the resort offers an unlimited luxury (an all-inclusive package) with an authentic Mexican appeal.
We flew from JFK to Cancun direct via Jet Blue Airways which rocks with their own terminal outfitted with primo healthy food. The 3.5 hour direct flight was a bonus, especially if you are traveling with kids. Immigration and customs were a pleasant, speedy experience. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Amstar transportation service who transferred us to the Now Sapphire Resort and Spa. Expect a 20 minute commute. TIP: reserve ground transfers prior to arrival to expedite the process and to avoid potential problems.
The last thing you want to do after a long trip is to wait on line to check into your room. At Now Sapphire Resort we had preferred status which offered check-in at their exclusive lounge stocked with food, beverages, internet and free wifi, all available to us throughout our stay. Other perks of the preferred status include premiere rooms, free in room wifi and a private adult-only pool. You can purchase this status for an additional $40/day per person. The lounge is great for checking email and a reprieve from the heat, but don't bank on fine food or vegetarian snacks being served there, it is mostly pastries that my husband thoroughly enjoyed. For me, a bowl of nuts, please. TIP: If you are traveling without kids purchase the preferred status. The private pool has thatched roofed cabanas with queen beds for lounging and an extremely quiet environment for ultimate relaxation.
After check-in we were escorted to our preferred guest suite where a bottle of champagne, fruit and a welcome letter awaited us. I was immediately impressed by the spacious room with a separate seating area as well as its cleanliness and the tasteful decor. The premium cotton white bedding accented with lime green throw pillows gets two thumbs up from me. As does the large bathroom with an array of toiletries and a bidet. Let me not forget the amazing view of the powdery white beaches and the ocean -just delightful! TIP: Get an ocean front corner room for maximum views and if you take the kids get the ground floor with terrace steps onto the beach.
We thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the resort grounds from the meandering walkways surrounded by flowing water to the open archways framing the aqua blue water to traditional Mexican decor and tropical grounds with native creatures who greet you unexpectedly. There was a sense of peace and tranquility throughout. The all-inclusive style gathered a diverse group of guests including, families with kids, newlyweds, seniors, teens and brides-to-be. TIP: The foot paths are hot so wear shoes and the marble floors are very slippery so rubber soles are best. Ladies, leave those Manolo's at home to rest.
We spent the afternoon at the beach under a palapa (water side cabana) drinking a frozen mojitos (most delicious) and a banana daquari from the private beach bar for preferred guests. Kudos to the resort for offering an abundance of comfortable sun coverage options on the beach and at the pools.
There are restaurants galore offering standard Mexican, Asian, French, and Mediterranean fare, plus a grille, international buffet, and a coffee/pastry shop. There was no shortage of pastries and cookies around the resort, but finding a good vegetarian meal or a healthy grab-n-go snack were a real challenge. We were there during low season so not all the restaurants were open each evening. Little guests will love the buffet filled with specially prepared mini sandwiches, cheese quesadillas, fruit filled yogurt cups and hot chocolate sauce on waffles for a treat. The breakfast buffet is noteworthy for its supurb freshly prepared omlettes and native fresh fruits. TIP: Hold out for lunch at the buffet, which opens at 12:30, as the food at the grille (opens at 11AM) is average. TIP: Don't be in a hurry to eat - if you are go to the buffet.
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There was certainly no shortage of scheduled activities from 9:00AM to 9:30PM daily, including everything from rifle shooting, kayaking, sushi making, dancing lessons and bingo. We tried the morning yoga, which was changed to a stretch because the yoga instructor was on vacation. It was a great way to start the day and we loved the poolside gazebo location where the heat from the sun drenched our muscles for ultimate stretches. TIP: The activity schedule isn't updated so avoid disappointment by checking with the activity center prior to the activity. Also, be prepared for multiple answers to often simple questions and/or difficulty with staff understanding questions - and brush up on your Spanish, if possible.
Although we didn't get to use the Explorer's Club for Kids, we toured the space and found it to be inviting and engaging. There was indoor and outdoor areas for physical and intellectual enrichment. The club is open from 9:00AM to 10:00PM daily. For teens, there is the CoreZone, outfitted with a private pool, water sports, games and a nightclub, all included in the per person rate.
Wifi is limited to your room, the preferred lounge and one small area by the main pool. There is a fee to use wifi for non-preferred guests. The resort plans to expand service to the entire resort. TIP: Purchase a phone plan before leaving home and use Skype to call family and friends.
The spa boasts head-to-toe treatments using one of my favorite products, Pevonia. My husband and I were super excited to receive our post travel massages so we arrived early (8:30AM, 30 minutes prior to our scheduled appointment) to experience the hydrotherapy circuit, which invigorated our blood for the massages to come. We were greeted by the friendly spa concierge who introduced us to the spa. Fresh hibiscus flowers were elegantly placed throughout, naturally scenting the area and creating a tropical vibrant atmosphere. My deep tissue massage ($149 for 50 minutes) was awesome, as was my husband's Swedish massage. TIP: Arrive early to enjoy the outdoor lounge where you can become balanced with a quartz stone. Be sure to grab a cleansing drink of chlorophyl (plant extract) before you depart.
We estimated the cost for a family of four to stay for 3 nights four days at the Now Sapphire Resort and Spa to be approximately $1400.00, not including preferred status, spa, special water sports or airfare. TIP: go during the low season August to October to save on costs and to avoid large crowds. The resort was 40 percent occupied when we were there and it felt good.
NOW JADE RESORT AND SPA
Located 5 minutes from the Now Sapphire is the Now Jade Resort and Spa, also offering unlimited luxury. We spent a few hours touring and relaxing at this sister resort which is designed for those wanting a sleek modern hotel. The grand lobby with the infinity pool is impressive, but not what I am looking for in Mexico. Rooms at the Jade offer two adjoining bedroom suites, perfect for large families. Although I didn't see any families, largely young Europeans.
Now through November 30, 2011, consumers can join in the '??Triple Play'? fun with a chance to enjoy up to 50% off rates, plus up to $400 in resort coupons for exclusive extras; complimentary room upgrade giveaways for existing reservations; or the grand prize, a 7-night Unlimited-Luxury® vacation for two at the winner'??s resort of choice. Visit AMResortsTriplePlay.com <http://www.amresorts.com/tripleplay/index.html> to enter. Grand prize winners will be selected on December 6, 2011
Disclosure: Momtrends was not paid for this post. We received a complimentary trip to the resort for review purposes and we loved it!