It has been almost a year since we decided to take our two boys for their first “airplane vacation” to Mexico and the Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya. I sat down a dozen times to write and completely locked up on what to say.
Normally when I freeze up at the old keyboard its because I don’t have enough to say, in this instance it’s the opposite, there’s too much to say. Without writing a ten page white paper on the many great things we experienced as a family, how do I condense it into a single post?
To sum it up, it was amazing. As close to a perfect family vacation that you can have, you know…when you’re traveling with your family.
When you have young children, the idea of taking a family vacation to another country can seem daunting to say the least, factor in the fact that your youngest child is affected by autism and the middle child has never been on a plane, it seemed like a worse decision than the time Tiffany Trump thought it would be a “hoot” to teach her dad how to use Twitter.
We were invited to visit the Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya, in Mexico, and despite every alarm bell going off in my head about traveling with out kids for the first time to a foreign country, we accepted the invitation to head South in the Summer time and see how it all shook out.
It’s hot down there, but not crazy Texas hot, the water is in the 80’s and it would climb into the 90’s during the day, not different than many vacation destinations in the USA during the Summer.
This isn’t a “how to travel with a child who is affected by autism” but a review of the trip and if Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya lived up to the promise of a family friendly resort….for everyone.
QUICK NOTE FOR PARENTS WITH KIDS ON THE SPECTRUM-We did however start to plan with our youngest son, his teachers made him a flip book of what he could expect at the airport, as we fought our way through O Hare he was able to see the coinciding picture “this is where we check our bags, this is where we go through security, this is where we pay $5 for bottled water.” It helped keep him calm in a crazy situation.
Plenty of places promise a family friendly experience and do a fine job. That’s the difference between “plenty of places” and Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya, they did an amazing job of attending to every individual detail of my family, meaning they didn’t try to put us into an “experience box: but made an experience box to fit our needs.
Awesome Example #1– The Meltdown. After traveling on a plane for several hours, working our way through customs, waiting for a shuttle in the heat and a drive to the resort, we were all on edge, but our youngest was beginning to “stim” or meltdown from exhaustion, hunger and over stimulation. We arrived earlier than our room was ready, but before we could do the whole “our son is affected by autism and we need help” thing, they had the information already along with an air conditioned room and a healthy snack where both boys could wind down, calm down and get back to normal.
Awesome Example #2– Special dietary needs. When we checked in, they asked about all of our dietary needs. Our youngest has a “dairy thing,” which we mentioned and then never had to mention again, even to the point where he ordered pizza and it showed up without cheese in every freaking restaurant on the property.
Awesome Example #3– The Nickelodeon Experience- Wow! Karisma Hotel Group has a deal with Nickelodeon and it goes way beyond some poor kid sweating it out dressed as Sponge Bob. The kids place was so much fun, they asked to go to it every day. It was packed with activities, things to jump on, characters an attentive staff and tons of “Nick stuff.” They had daily dance parties, sliming, characters roaming the property and a night time party that had us all on our feet partying G-Rated style.
Awesome Example #4- 10 pool! They have 10 pools! The entire place is surrounded by pools, they have rooms you can swim up to and jump right in. These aren’t tiny little egg shaped pools, they are massive pools with bridges over them, with bars and restaurants there to satisfy your all inclusive needs. None of them are very deep and there are pools designated for kids and a few “adults only” as well.
Awesome Example #5– Speaking of pools, on day #4, the boys were so tired they “asked to take a nap!” The folks at Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya had a baby monitor ready and waiting for us. We were able to have a little adult time in the water, the boys slept and we could hear them at the same time.
Awesome Example #6– The rooms. Big, comfortable, clean. We actually lived better there than we do at home. Massive tubs, swim up rooms( I now I mentioned it, but it is really cool), clean, big showers, comfy beds, great sheets. Each boy had a Nickelodeon themed backpack and towel waiting for them in the room. Though we were one family out of many, those small touches made us feel very special.
Awesome Example #7- The food. It’s the kind of food you normally eat when you are away from your kids and blowing a ton on a babysitter. It’s delicious and something for everyone. There are several restaurants on the property and they are all exceptional. Actual gourmet food, at a resort, with your kids, crazy talk! Italian, Sushi, Latin, all done to perfection and the best part was they all had kids options, because getting my boys to eat sushi would be next to impossible! Amazing deserts, great waiters and because we were with kids and eat at 5:30, so there was no real wait for a table.
Awesome Example #8– The size of the resort. It’s not one of those massive resorts where you need a golf cart to travel from point to point, the total occupancy of the Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya is about 300 people, everything from the beach to the gym and spa were an easy walk to get to
Awesome Example #9– The water. I know, Mexico, stay away! But they have their own filtered water, so we were able to brush our teeth, drink iced water at meals and not have to worry about losing 10 pounds the hard way.
Awesome Example #10– The fact that both of our kids beg to go back there on a constant basis. We decided to take another trip for Thanksgiving and asked them to pick between Disney and Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya and they picked Mexico! Over Disney.
There is a lot of Summer left to plan a vacation to Azul Beach Resort- Riviera Maya, in Mexico, but really any time of the year is a good time to treat you and your family to something memorable.
Karisma Hotels supposedly has an even better Nickelodeon experience in the Dominican Republic and they opened a new resort in Jamaica, but we haven’t had the chance to check those out. That being said, we made memories we will never forget and now have a brand that we trust and a series of resorts that we know deliver on what they promise and then go beyond.