Cancun, Mexico. Hyatt Ziva

We get away every winter. It's great to get out of the cold and snow, and get some warm sun on our pale-ass skin. Well, Steve typically keeps a tan throughout the winter because he bids warm overnights. 

The last six years we have cruised. However, we cruised this past October and will again in October. So, we wanted to set out on another type of vacation. We went with an all-inclusive getaway.

I've been asked this on Facebook, so I want to add this to my blog. The kids are 8 and 10, 2nd and 4th grade. Yes, we pull them from school to travel. We used to pull them without really thinking about the time they miss. But, now that they are older, we are being far more selective in the days we take. In October we traveled for a whole week, when they only missed three days of school. This past trip, we were gone five nights, and they missed three days of school. We will continue this pattern next year, but when Ben hits 6th grade we will probably travel only during breaks.

Our school district expresses their disapproval of family vacations on paper, but we have never come across disapproval directly from any teachers. Steve and I believe that travel is important, and believe that there is much learning with travel. So, we make the choice to pull the kids.

One last mention on this, both kids are old in their class. This translate that they aren't stressed much at school (yet). This works in our benefit when we are gone. Typically when we get back they get back into step pretty quickly. This makes it a lot easier for us to make the decision to pull them out for a couple days.

The following destinations were in the running for this past trip: Paris, Sedona, LA/San Diego, Jamaica, Punta Cana, and Cancun. We were down to Jamaica (my favorite) and Cancun about two weeks out. A couple days before we left there was a travel warning issued in Montego Bay, so that made us steer fully towards Cancun. Another big push for Cancun are and multiple flights a day (which is a HUGE plus as a non-rev.) Turns out we even got First Class, which was an extra bonus! And now that Cici is 8, she can be up front as well.

After weeks and weeks of research we narrowed down our resort selection to the following:
- Azul, the Fives
      - the rooms looked great, very spacious
- Sandos, Eco Resort
      - we liked the water park for the kids, and river/cenote/ruins on the property

And we finally decided on Hyatt Ziva. I came across Hyatt Ziva while reading an article about "must-see" all-inclusive resorts 2017. The resort was fully remodeled in 2016, and it is very impressive. I thought the Hyatt Ziva would be a safe-bet because the reviews were the most consistent(-ly good). I figured we couldn't go wrong there.

We were beyond thrilled with the resort. So much so that we are already thinking about going back. Steve goes to a decent amount of all-inclusive resorts in plenty of countries. Even he thinks this blows the others out of the water.

So, there are the things that I loved about the resort. Keep in mind that we were traveling with an 8 and 10-year-old.

- Heated Pools.  You would be surprised at the number of resorts that don't have heated pools. While reading through a number of reviews on other resorts, many people would complain about cold pools. A cold pool would have meant no swimming, for me and Steve at least. The highs were in the 70's, which is very nice. But, the heated pool made for a very comfortable environment.

 For what it's worth, we did buy the inflatable rings for the kids. $12 a piece. Totally worth it. I would suggest you pack some in your bags if you don't want to spend the money.

- No reservations for restaurants. Serious. We would pick the restaurant we wanted to dine for whichever meal in the day, and just walk in. We never had to wait to be seated. This may have had more to do with the fact that the resort didn't seem too full. Or perhaps the fact that we ate dinner between 6:30 and 7:30 every night, which was a bit on the early side.
The Asian Fusion restaurant was my favorite. The first night we had hibachi, and our last night we ate sushi at a table.

- The coffee shop/sweet shop. We had our daily cappuccino, and the kids had their multiple-times-daily sweet. It was such a nice treat.

- The location. And this is two-fold. First off, it is in Cancun. The drive was about 25 minutes from the airport. This was awesome. Steve found Canada Transfers as our transportation, and we were 100% pleased with them. We walked out of the airport on day one, and found them a bit behind the initial crowd that waits at the doors. They were holding a sign, and we were greeted warmly. We immediately walked to a van, were given a cold towel, and our cold beers. The van was very comfortable, and the driver was a great driver. I felt very safe and comfortable.

The same goes for the ride back. Pick up time was scheduled at 10:20, and they arrived right on time. Again, a very comfortable van and driver.

Ok, so the proximity to the airport was nice. But, so was the location of the hotel itself. It was on a tip of a peninsula, which meant there was water all around you. There was even a lighthouse on the property, which made for great pictures. Oh, and the water was the most beautiful color...white sand! Yes, there were hotels around you, but you never felt their presence, really. You felt secluded in a way.

- TV. I know, I know, who watches tv while on vacation? But, remember the kids were with us. They had multiple channels, including multiple HBO channels, and a number of channels were in English. We would put a movie on in the morning while the kids would slowly wake up, when we were getting ready for dinner, or when we were all in bed at night drifting off to sleep.

- The service! I mean, the service was out of this world. I'm serious. The staff was just fantastic. Incredibly friendly. The stuff must be managed well, because the service was consistent, as well. While in the pool or at the beach, we always had a drink in our hand. Staff would come back with a new drink just as you were about to finish the last sip, without even asking.

One tip here, we came ill-prepared with tip money. Make sure you bring a lot of $1, $5, and $10s. We didn't. Because the service was so great, I wanted to tip. Now, I never felt like I needed to, but I wanted to. So, at the end of the trip I ended up putting $10s and $20s in the (hidden) tip jars at a couple spots we frequented most.

- The Dolphins. Four dolphins stay on property due to a Dolphin-arium (or whatever it is called). Our room overlooked their lagoon, and it was so neat to see them throughout the day. The kids got a real kick out of it. Heck, I loved seeming them every day, too.

- The size. The resort is large enough to have lots to do, but small enough to be intimate and not intimidating. Some resorts are so large you need a golf cart to get around. We purposefully didn't want that. Here is the view from our room:

We were nearly oceanfront. I think the positioning of the resort really allows you to take in the ocean views, which is what you want on a beach vacation. The kids would run off to the candy shop by themselves. Or they would swim around the pools while we were lounging on a pool chair, or chatting it up with new-found friends at the pool bar...they were never far away. Dinner was never more than a five minute walk. The resort was a very comfortable size for us - perfect size, actually.

There are also two beaches on the property. Since the smaller beach was just steps away from our room, we stayed there mostly. Both beaches are just lovely.


For a little added dialogue, I have to share this story.

This was the first all-inclusive we went to as a family. The kids, thankfully, loved it and their behavior was great the entire time. There were a lot of families there, but there were also a lot of couples. For what it's worth, Hyatt Ziva also has an adult tower with an adult restaurant and bar/pool. We never went there. 

Anyway, one afternoon Cici was having so much fun in the pool that she didn't give herself enough time to go to the bathroom. Numero dos. Don't worry, nothing happened in the happened on the way to the WC. So, there I was, washing Cici's bottoms in the sink with lots of soap and water, and then a beautiful young woman comes to the sink next to her army green two piece, bum barely covered...while I'm cleaning poo from a swim suit. The juxtaposition of the scene was incredible.

But, such is the life of a mother. I've been there, well maybe not the barely there bikini, but the young hot body, not yet touched by stretch marks and cellulite. Good for her. Truly. She gave me a sweet half-smile in the mirror, and then went off on her merry way...while I went back to cleaning up poo.

So, that sums up the great things about the resort which I think set it apart from other resorts. We will totally be back, no question. I hope I could shed some light on what made our trip great, so that others can learn from it.