A Return to AdventureWith the Family
|BUSY BODIES: A kid-friendly resort is the key to success (Corel)|
The girls fidgeted while we checked into Iberostar Playa Paraiso, our all-inclusive Playa del Carmen resort. A morning of travelnearly six hours door to doorhad left them hungry and cranky, so we dropped our bags and set out to the lunch buffet. Just as we took our seats at a table beside a koi pond, a white egret skimmed gracefully across the water, landing without a ripple a few feet from the children.
"Look at the big white bird!" screamed Katie.
"I think he's hunting for fish in the pond," chimed Allie. Suddenly, all of our moods brightened and vacation officially commenced at our Riviera retreat.
Any successful trip with kids in tow requires a solid foundation: a good hotel or resort. We had found a great one in the Playa Paraiso, a massive complex of four beachfront hotels with a huge, ameba-shaped swimming pool, a golf course, an endless variety of places to bathe under the Mexican sun, and a wide array of children-specific attractions. The lunchtime egret greeting was only the first of several on-site wildlife encounters. Flamingos, tortoises, peacocks, parrots, guacamayas, iguanas, and swans all wandered the grounds. And then there was the resort's "Mini Club" for kids, with soccer on the beach, arts and crafts, afternoon Disney videos, and, most important, other kids their ages. When Mini Club wasn't in session, the children made unescorted, "big-girl" trips to the juice bar and painted ceramics under a thatched-roof pavilion beside the pool, which left plenty of time for mom and dad to read, swim, and relax.
The Playa Paraiso also proved to be well positioned for the other adventures we'd planned: swimming with dolphins, a day at one of the region's three ecological theme parks, and strolls down Fifth Avenue, the city's charming pedestrian street. And if we could find the timeand our kids' energy levels were up to the taskwe hoped to explore the Maya ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza, dive or snorkel on the Palancar Reef, and visit the Xaman Ha bird sanctuary.
But shortly after checking in, we realized our ambitious itinerary was, well, too ambitious. Simply put, the kids loved the resort too much to leave the property every daywhich left us happily resigned to guilt-free relaxation.
Access and Resources:
Iberostar Playa Paraiso (888.923.2722; www.iberostar.com) is part of a larger family of Iberostar resorts, which are scattered throughout Mexico, Spain, and other locales. Another Iberostar resort, the Quetzal Resort in Playacar near Playa del Carmen, is smaller, more intimate, and less fancy than the Playa Paraiso but offers the same level of service, food, and amenities.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication