Author: Terry Matthews-Lombardo
Date of Trip: December 2011
Happy Family Holidays in Mexico at the Royal Cancun All Inclusive Resort!
The date was Christmas; the location was Cancun, Mexico. The occasion? Nothing other than a family holiday together for our small group of four professionals. Yes, after years of college exams and payments, our two kids with their newly minted undergrad degrees [plus one masters], had finished and were out on their own, successfully I might add [with a very content smile on my face]. Both with good jobs and on career paths that were rewarding them with some of life’s perks. The kind you are sometimes able to earn when things go right for you in the universe.
So, when the leaves started changing colors and it was once again time to discuss holiday plans, this year we chose a family vacation over a traditional extended family gathering that usually includes too much eating, drinking, and partying, not to mention too many gifts that we don’t even need or want. What we did need – what everyone unanimously wanted, was a trip that would provide relaxation from our hectic lifestyles as well as our daily routines. Admittedly, our family has been blessed with much exciting travel in our lifetimes, so we wasted no time in establishing that we weren’t looking for theme parks or organized tour groups; no real touristy goals for us. After narrowing down our search, which initially included the world at large [most of which we couldn’t afford], we chose Cancun. It was a perfect blend of most of our criteria:
• Available direct flights
• Not too far from home base for any of us [Orlando, FL]
• Good December climate
• An abundance of wonderful resorts to chose from
The lack of a necessity to do anything beyond various forms of relaxation was also a big selling point. [Did I mention we’re not much on major attractions?]
NOTE: I’m not saying there’s nothing to do in Cancun because that wouldn’t be true! What I am saying is that the temptations there are not as enticing as say, going to Rome without seeing the Vatican and/or staying in Paris without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Comprenez?
After conducting a fair amount of research as well as successfully combining some rewards points and cash, we were confirmed at an all inclusive, adults only resort. I should mention here that I, myself, have made several trips to Cancun with both incentive and tour groups, but even with my past experience in that area I was still pleasantly surprised to find our chosen hotel, the Royal Cancun, to be a refreshing oasis in the midst of so many fabulous beach resorts from which to choose. It was understated elegance from the moment we checked in, and not a day went by that we didn’t experience one little pleasant surprise after another. Hammocks on our balcony? Check. Floating beds in the lobby bar swaying to the ocean breeze? Check-check. Pool butler at the ready to clean our sunglasses and pass out frozen grapes each day? Ah yes. Check. Check. Check. Once we settled in and were able to leave our overloaded work-worlds and busy social calendars behind [mine was already shed in the cab ride from the airport], it was more a daily game of ‘how can I top yesterday’s relaxation?’ From sunrise yoga sessions on the beach to a couples massage in an open air gazebo [ahhh, you read that correctly; I’m still smiling at the mere memory of same] we were destined to enjoy every minute of our holiday-cation.
But it was how we spent the actual day of December 25th that really brought it all into perspective for me. We rose at a leisurely pace, ordered a bountiful room service on our patio [overlooking the beach, of course!], exchanged a few small family gifts [think lightweight, i.e. stateside concert tix and gift cards to favorite shopping things] while listening to the lapping waves and enjoying the bountiful sunshine. In the only nod to the holiday, my daughter plugged in her ITunes and played some Christmas music [thank you, Michael Buble, for that wonderful updated rendition of Feliz Navidad-quite appropriate for our family moment in time]. In time, we dressed and walked to the chapel-on-the-beach next door to our hotel and attended a lovely open-air Mass. The background to the Mexican altar was the familiar lapping waves, white sand, and scattered barefoot tourists enjoying the beach day as if it were just like any other in the year. Paradise found? Check. After Mass, we asked our kids if they wanted to walk around a little and see more of Cancun. “No thanks. Let’s just go back and relax.” No argument from the parents at this point. In fact, it was apparent that we had all so quickly grown in love with our hotel and new-found beach mind-set that we almost felt threatened by being away from ‘our Royal’ comfort zones. Just sayin’, and sayin’ with a big smile, too.
We moved gently from breakfast on the balcony to church on the beach to our poolside cabana [hello swinging chairs at swim up bar today?!] and then on to the big event, that being dressing for Christmas dinner which we enjoyed, you guessed it, beachside. In the afternoon, I was the only one of our group to partake in the simple but elegant resort holiday activities that took place right in the expansive hotel lobby. With no fanfare other than a small flyer that came with our room service breakfast trays announcing the availability of same, they offered two unique classes for our amusement – cookie decorating and [oddly, but how fun?] napkin folding [which I believe was a nod to the many Japanese tourists at this facility, although maybe it was just a fun and unique choice]. I did both at my leisure and had a blast, especially when my prized napkin pyramid was placed on the very formal table setting they had set center stage in the atrium for the picture taking efforts of all the napkin folding students. Unfortunately for me, that picture didn’t take, but the smile on my face when snapped next to the pastry chef at the cookie station has ‘this is my kind of Christmas’ all over it. For me, it was the closest I would come this year to any kind of holiday baking, and considering there was no cleanup or excess calories to claim with the ‘oops – another chef’s mistake and I’ll have to eat this one, too’, it was perhaps the shining star to top our imaginary tree of Mexican holiday happiness.
Did we miss any of our usual Christmas traditions? Perhaps, but did we survive without them? Of course; and, maybe more importantly, returned stateside in a distinctively more relaxed mindset.
It was one of those rare days; perhaps even the rarest of all, when you are just plain enjoying life.