Jamie’s Ixtapa Island Excursion

Prior to travelling to Ixtapa, we had several people recommend Ixtapa Island as a good excursions for families.  We tend to stick close to the resorts with the kids when we travel as they are quite happy enjoying the pools and activities that the all inclusive resorts have to offer.  However, by mid week away, we thought the kids would be up for a change of scenery and started looking at option for a trip out to Ixtapa Island.  There were 13 of us all together, 6 adults, 7 kids aged 4-11.

Option1:  We discussed the excursion with our Westjet Vacations rep.  The cost was going to be $28USD per child and $40USD per adult (reduced from $45 USD if we paid cash and because we were a group).  For my family of 5, that would be just over $200 CDN.

Option 2:  Online booking is an option, but when checking Viator and Expedia they were a similar price of around $200 CDN for my family of 5.

Option 3:  We could go on our own.  The $200 CDN included transportation from our hotel to the water taxi, Roundtrip ferry/water taxi to the Island, lunch, one drink and reserved chairs.  We were pretty sure we could do this on our own for quite a bit less and Ixtapa is a pretty quiet place that we were comfortable exploring on our own.  The Taxi (15 minute drive) to the Ferry was $160 Pesos each way.  The Ferry (10 minutes each way) roundtrip was $50 pesos per person.  The restaurants will give you chairs/loungers/palapas for free if you are ordering food and drinks from them.  We were there for about 5 hours and lunch and a drink worked out to be roughly $200 – $250 pesos per person.  This was about $125 CDN for our family of 5 – almost half price of taking the tour.

It was very easy to manage on our own.  Taxi’s are plentiful, as are the water taxis.  There are several restaurants on the three main beaches and this way we were able to choose when we left and when we returned and we were more on our own schedule, which worked well for us.  We went to Varadero Beach, which was great for little guys wanting to swim.  It was very shallow and calm and the not quite as hot as the snorkeling beach as the sun took a bit longer to come around to that side.  From Varadero Beach, you can walk about 500 feet, through the restaurant to the snorkeling beach.  This beach wasn’t good for little guys to swim, but had tons of fish and great snorkeling for the older ones.  The location was good here, being able to easily go back and forth.  They had an outdoor shower and bathroom facilities and the food and drinks were good.  We were at the Lili Cipriani restaurant.

Coconut Shrimp

We really enjoyed our time at Ixtapa Island and being able to swim in the ocean as the shore break was quite rough on the main beach of Ixtapa and made it hard for kids (and some adults) to go in swimming.  I would definitely recommend spending a day of your vacation on Ixtapa Island.

Ixtapa Island fun

Ixtapa Island Beach

Sunscape Dorado Pacifico: The importance of setting your vacation expectations

My family and I were looking for a good value vacation over the Christmas and New Year school holidays.  Our goals were:

*Something family friendly

*Must accommodate a family of 5 (easier said than done)

*Good flight times

*A reasonable budget (again easier said than done during peak holiday times)

*My husband also insisted that it must have a kids waterpark

My mission was clear, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to find something that fit all of our needs.  I will be the first to admit I am quite spoiled when it comes to hotels.  I have stayed at some of the nicest resorts and my expectations are quite high.  I knew I may have to lower my expectations a bit for this holiday.

After looking at options for a few weeks, I came across a great price with Westjet Vacations to Ixtapa, staying at the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico.  I hadn’t been to Ixtapa before and I love trying something new, so that was one point in favour.  The price was right, it accommodated a family of 5 in guaranteed connecting rooms and the hotel had a newer waterpark for kids.  It seemed to check off all of our boxes.  The only thing I wasn’t sure of, was whether it would meet my higher standards.

I have stayed at a few Secrets resorts in the past, which are part of the AM resort chain that also owns the Sunscape Resorts.  Where Secrets are their higher end, adults only resorts; Sunscape is their family friendly, good value brand.  There was some peace of mind, being familiar with the AM chain and the quality they bring.  We decided to give it a try and talked a few friends and family into joining us.

Prior to travelling, I carefully looked through reviews, the hotel website, other social media posts and blogs about this resort.  I wanted to be well prepared and go with realistic expectations of food, service, facilities, etc.  I always find it’s good to arrive with realistic/lower expectations and be pleasantly surprised.  I was expecting a family friendly property with ok food, service and rooms and I’m happy to report my expectations were exceeded in most areas.  Here is more information on the good, the bad and the ugly for the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico.

The Good:

*The rooms were very clean and the views of the ocean were amazing.  The extra space we had with two connecting rooms was very welcome for a family of 5.  We had 2 double beds in one room, 1 king in the other, 2 balconies and 2 full bathrooms.  The housekeepers work very hard here and are deserving of some extra tips!

*The entire hotel was very well maintained and very clean.  The public bathrooms were kept cleaner at the Sunscape than some other 5 star hotels I have stayed at.  This is important to anyone with little kids who touch everything!

*The beach in front of the hotel is very long.  The Sunscape is in the middle and you can easily walk 20-30 minutes in either direction on a flat, wide beach with nice sand.

*The kids waterpark was very functional with lots of little slides and spray features.  The kids loved it – all the kids (aged 4-11).

*The food pleasantly surprised me.  Where it might be lacking in the number of options available, there was always food we enjoyed and some meals I would even rate as very good.  All of us loved the food truck with burgers, hot dogs, nachos and pizza.  It was a great option for lunch or late afternoon snacks and very easy and relaxed.  They had three outdoor buffet/entertainment nights (80’s band one night, Mexican Fiesta night, Carnival night).  The first two had very good Buffet options and lots for the kids to choose from as well.  We skipped the Mexican A la Carte as it was rarely open and had no kids menu.  The Italian a la carte is adults only, so also got a miss.  We tried the Bluewater Grill for dinner twice.  The first time it was exceptional in both food and service, the second time was just ok, but still enjoyable.

*Smaller hotel and never any waits at the buffet and no reservations needed at any of the restaurants

*The gym was small, but clean and had good equipment

*Complimentary bicycle tours twice a day

*The staff overall were excellent.  We needed our safe opened and our connecting doors unlocked and maintenance was very quick to come up.  We needed a doctor called for my daughter, who had an ear infection, and the doctor was in our room in less than an hour thanks to the hotel operator.  The restaurant staff was very good.

 

The bad:

*The service around the pool for drinks was spotty.  The servers that were there were good, but there were not enough of them.  We often had to go to the bar to get our own drinks.

*The waterpark was only open 11am-6pm.  It would have been nice if it opened by 10am.  We were usually in the pool by 9 or 930am.

*The rooms could use a refresh with newer beds and patio furniture.

*The rooms were showing wear – some rust spots on the mirrors and nicks in the furniture, etc

*Front desk staff were a bit slow and never seemed to have English daily activity schedules printed.  There was always a wait to talk to someone.

*The main buffet is small.  There were always options that we liked and the ladies cooking up eggs and French toast and pancakes in the mornings were great, but it was a very small selection for a buffet.

*The food at the Carnival buffet night with entertainment was a miss.  Of the three events they had, the food this night wasn’t anywhere near as good as the other two nights…take a pass and go to the a la cartes that night.

*The kids club could use more activities for the older kids.  It was good for the younger ones, but the 9 and 11 year old had very little that appealed to them at the kids club and the teen club is only for 13 and older (video games and other options there for teenagers).  There was a trampoline clinic and a rock climbing wall, but there was never any staff working at those activities.

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The ugly:

*The pillows were terrible and very lumpy.  If you are a picky pillow person, you should bring your own.

*The resort at night was very loud.  While it was nice to have live music options in the lobby and at the outdoor Starlight Lounge, the music was VERY loud and went until around 12am-2am, depending on the night.  If anyone is a light sleeper, you would definitely want to bring ear plugs.  Even with all the doors closed and the A/C on, it felt like the entertainment was right outside your door.

Overall, the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico is a very good value, family friendly resort and if you go with those expectations, I think you will enjoy your stay very much.  We did and we would definitely consider returning in the future.


Ready to start planning your own vacation?  Reach out to our team here in Saskatoon!

SUTHERLAND
306-955-1449

CIRCLE DRIVE
306-934-3400

https://www.uniglobecarefreetravel.com/

Jamie’s Bleisure Moment at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

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The hot topic in travel these days is “Bleisure”…the desire of business travellers to add on some personal or leisure time to enhance a business trip. I was attending a conference at the Grand Velas Resort in Puerto Vallarta and when looking into flight times, it worked out that I would have several free hours before the start of the conference. I decided to have my own “Bleisure” moment and plan something fun. I have been to Puerto Vallarta a few times before and I gave some thought to going into Old Town, maybe doing some shopping or finding a great restaurant, but I decided to play it by ear and see what I felt like, once I arrived. I realized very quickly after my arrival, where I wanted to spend my free time.

When you first pull into the lobby of the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, you are asked to take a seat in a comfortable chair and you are given a refreshing, chilled pineapple drink. Then the concierge asks the magic question “Would you like a Spa Representative to give you a little head and shoulder massage while we check you in?”…….Ummm – YES, please!

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After a long day of airports and travelling, this lovely woman from the spa appears and over the next 10 minutes, she gave me the best shoulder massage I have ever had. These folks at the Grand Velas know how to sell a product! When she asked if I would like to make an appointment at the Spa, it was impossible to say no.

The following morning, I found myself arriving at the spa. There is nothing better than walking into a peaceful spa area, full of the scent of lemongrass and instantly relaxing. The very helpful and gracious spa concierge led me to the changing area, followed by the different water therapy areas, which are included with any spa service. It started with a dry sauna that is infused with cinnamon, followed by a stay in the Eucalyptus steam room. Then you get a cold ice rub, guaranteed to help with your metabolism and circulation, before popping into a sensory shower. Next up a jacuzzi, then hot and cold pools. Throughout the steps, they give you special drinks for energy and well being. All of this took place in a women’s only lounge area filled with natural light, plants, waterfalls and soft music.

The 80 minute therapeutic massage combined aromatherapy, reflexology, acupressure and traditional deep tissue massage. At the end of the massage experience, you can spend as long as you like in the water therapy area, or relax on a lounger with some warm spiced tea.

The spa is fully equipped with everything you may need, from full shower facilities, to toothpaste and mouthwash, brushes, combs and hair products. It was so easy and peaceful and they truly have thought of everything. Two and a half hours after I walked into the spa, I walked out feeling like an entirely new person. It was time well spent and I was now refreshed, relaxed and ready for a few days of meetings and networking. A perfect combination of business and leisure.

Are you ready to start planning your own bleisure getaway?  Our team of leisure and corporate agents are ready to help with whatever it is you’re dreaming of.

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Paradisus Playa del Carmen is Perfect For Everyone

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Paradisus Playa del Carmen is split into two resorts. There is the adults only side, Paradisus La Perla and the family side, La Esmeralda. Having two resorts in one is a huge benefit when traveling as adults only, families and groups and here is why:

Adults:

As an adult you have free range of most pools, restaurants, bars and other public areas in both resorts. An upgrade to the Royal Service on the La Perla side or Family Concierge on the La Esmeralda will give you full access to all areas including the pools, beaches and restaurants that are exclusive to these special room categories. As an adult you will have exclusive adult only spaces and restaurants. Even if you book on the family side you will be able to access these spaces but your kids cannot join you. This will expand your choices for restaurants, pool areas and beach sections. It is great to have the extra options. The rooms on the adult side are designed for romance. Be sure to take advantage of the bathtub that’s big enough for two!

Families:

The family side, La Esmeralda, still has many restaurant, beach and pool options. They also have some great inclusions for families. The water park is a great area for families to hang out. They have a large splash park that caters to both older and younger kids. There are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas so everyone in the family can enjoy themselves and hangout in the same area. Parents can take advantage of the baby, kids and teen clubs offered at this resort. There is a daily schedule of activities that the kids can enjoy to give the parents a break. Even at the main pool area they have a pirate ship play structure. No matter which area you would like to hang out for the day there will be something for the kids to be entertained. If your family upgrades to the Family Concierge your room will have upgraded kids amenities (such as mini robes and slippers), plus your family will have exclusive access to the Family Concierge beach section.

Groups:

If you are planning a group trip or a destination wedding then this resort is perfect for you! Booking into either resort, you will be able to set up private events. Only two wedding can be scheduled in one day and they have a minimum of three hours between them. With both outdoor and indoor venues, your wedding will go off without a hitch, even if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. The wedding gazebo on the beach is my personal favorite. The bride can also look into booking the bridal suite. This is an exclusive area to get ready for her big day! Romance by Paradisus also specializes in same sex ceremonies. The wedding packages are diverse and have many inclusions depending of what kind of ceremony you are looking for.

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Where You Want To Be Married

As you can see, no matter what type of holiday you are planning the Paradisus Playa del Carmen is a diverse resort and would make an amazing vacation option!

If you have any questions about the Paradisus Playa Del Carmen, Paradisus Cancun or Melia Cozumel please feel free to contact me at 306-955-1449 or cordell@uniglobeyxe.com.  I’m ready to help you experience paradise.

Cordell’s Crazy About Cozumel

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Cozumel is a major cruise port but have you considered it as a vacation destination? Or even a day trip? The island is full of great experiences and I would highly recommend checking it out.  Here are my top three reasons you should put Cozumel on your list to visit:

  1. It’s easy to get to

Cozumel has its own international airport, which means that you can fly to the island. Depending on which city you are departing from, flying may not be your easiest way to arrive. The alternative is taking a ferry from Playa del Carmen. It will cost you 22usd for a roundtrip ticket. The ferry will take about 20 minutes in one direction. The ferry is very easy to catch as it runs every 30minutes. There is a bar on board and music. You can sit inside or take in the views from the top deck.

  1. Things to do

Once you are on the island there is plenty of things to do while you are there. Take in the shopping, bars and restaurants in the main town. Or if you are looking for a more active adventure, rent a car, scooters or 4×4’s and drive around the island. Cozumel is known for its water activities. If you love to snorkel or scuba dive then this is a perfect destination to visit. The island will also have kite-surfing, catamaran tours and fishing.

  1. The beaches and water

Cozumel is a small island but there are plenty of beaches to check out. If you rent a car you can easily find a piece of paradise to set up shop for the day and have it all to yourself. You can find the calm turquoise waters to snorkel and feed the fish. I stayed at the Melia Cozumel where the marine wildlife is right outside your doorstep. I was able to be in waste deep water and have schools of colorful fish swim around me. Be sure to bring a banana if you really want to attract the fish.

 

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The next stop on my trip around Mexico’s East Coast is Playa Del Carmen!  I can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences there.

Check out more photos and videos from all of our team’s travels here.

Cordell Finds Paradise at Paradisus Cancun

When picking an all-inclusive resort, one of the most important factors to consider for myself is the beach. As a guy from the prairies, I need to experience the ocean, sand and sun. Visiting a beach is important to me and it brings so much happiness to my life. The Paradisus Cancun’s beach has exceeded my every expectation. Here are my top four reasons the Paradisus Cancun is a must do beach vacation:

  1. Sunrise/ sunset
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From dawn until dusk, this is a beach that keeps you enthralled. If you are a morning person, this resort has stunning sunrises! You will be only one of a few people up at 7am but it is well worth it. I wasn’t ready to go down to the beach at this time, but I was in an ocean view room and could take it all in from my balcony. The sunsets from the beach are equally as beautiful as the sun sets over the pyramids of the Paradisus Cancun. If you are by the beach at night you can check out the stars. You do not get the city’s light pollution so you can see the constellations.

  1. Service

There is nothing worse than having to walk endlessly to the beach only to find that the nearest bar or food options are miles away from the beach. I would recommend springing for access to the Coco’S Beach Club. This exclusive area is centrally located, and the staff will truly take care of you. You can order food and drinks without having to leave your beach chair. The washrooms are also very close so you do not have to walk very far.

 

  1. The Physical Beauty

If you are looking for 78377049_2481774365397418_3078050722848178176_nwhite sand and turquoise waters than the Paradisus Cancun is for you. The powdery white sand doesn’t skald your feet as you walk along the seemingly endless beach to either side of the resort. The ocean itself is picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful. Be prepared for a photo shoot! The Caribbean side of Mexico has a bad reputation for sargassum, but at this resort there wasn’t even a trace of seaweed. As an added bonus, the resort has roped off beach areas. This means there were not very many venders pestering you on the beach, so you can really soak up the sun’s rays in peace and quiet.

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  1. Activities

Laying in the sun and reading a book can be a full-time job but sometimes you need a little extracurricular activity. Yoga is offered in the morning which can be a great way to start your day. While beach volleyball and soccer run periodically throughout the day. The waves along the beach are perfect for bodyboarding. If you are more of a thrill seeker you can pay to go parasailing or take a jet ski out for a rip.

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No matter what your beach preferences are there is something for everyone at the Paradisus Cancun.

Follow along as I check out a few other resorts in the area!

 

Stephanie’s Loving Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos – Part 3

My final experience at the Le Blanc Spa Resort is the hotel’s namesake…. a visit to the spa! You can’t visit a spa resort without checking out the spa, right?

They have an entire floor dedicated to the spa and salon, and it’s relaxing from the moment you walk in. There are 25 treatment rooms, so you won’t have a problem getting an appointment for your preferred time. A bonus of staying at Le Blanc is you receive a $1500 USD resort credit, and up to $500 of that can be put towards the spa!

After quickly checking in with reception, you’ll be greeted with a warm neck wrap and a healthy juice. Your spa butler will then show you to the change rooms, where you’ll be assigned a locker and given time to change into your swimsuit.

You start your spa appointment with a trip through the hydrotherapy circuit. It is complimentary for all guests, even without a spa treatment. It’s recommended to arrive 60 to 90 minutes beforehand to enjoy all the sections. Starting off with a dry sauna, you’ll move into the ice room complete with chilled aloe vera (perfect after a day in the sun), then into the steam room with a mud mask and hair treatment, a cold and then warm shower, and finally a heated tile bed before you finish at the 3 pools. You take a drip in the warm pool first, then the hot tub and lastly the cold pool. It truly is a cold pool, and I didn’t last more than 5 seconds. It was surprisingly refreshing, however.

Your spa butler will collect you 10 minutes before your treatment so you can get dried off and ready. My massage was absolutely wonderful, and I was just about to fall asleep as it was wrapping up.

Whether you are looking for some adult R&R, the ultimate food experience, or a world class spa, the Le Blanc Spa Resort offers it all. I can’t wait to help you plan your visit here soon!

Ready to start planning your stay at the Le Blanc Spa Resort in Los Cabos?  You can reach me by calling 306-934-3400 or emailing stephanie@uniglobeyxe.com.   I’m back in the office on Thursday.

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