#RIUParty – Pool Parties : The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

After spending a week at the lovely RIU Santa Fe in sunny Los Cabos, Mexico I have had my share of experiences with the popular RIU Pool Parties. These themed parties happen four times per week at RIU’s Cabo resorts and in Punta Cana. You get the Neon Party, Jungle Party, White Party and Pink Party. Two are from 7pm – 11pm and the other two are from 2pm – 7pm.

The Jungle Party started out super quiet
But it got lively pretty quickly!

The good: these parties are FUN. We attended the Jungle party as a group and stayed much longer than anticipated. Dancing in the foam pool was a lot more fun than any other foam party I’ve ever been to for some reason. The theming was excellent. Plus this party features performances from Coco Bongo which are always fun to watch and a nice sample for anyone interested in going to Coco Bongo. I also popped into the white party with a few of our group members which featured music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. It was outstanding and genuinely a party I would like to attend again some day. I can really imagine vacationing at a RIU resort that features these parties with a group of my best friends and having the time of our lives. This would be a great option for a stag or stagette trip! It was wonderful to see people of all generations enjoying these pool parties too. Everyone deserves to let loose and have a little fun once in a while.

Coco Bongo performance on the stage

With the exception of the end of the week party that fell over Spring Break it didn’t feel too crowded either. There was room to dance however you like to dance in the foam pool, the swim up pool or off to the sides where you don’t even have to get wet.

Some of the 98Cool group living it up in the foam pool

The bad: for whatever reason, the number of people who became drunk beyond reason seemed really high. I don’t believe that the bartenders were necessarily over serving, I think this may have been an issue caused by RIU’s signature in-room liquor dispensers. These people were sloppy and made what could be a super fun party into a bit of a joke. The resort was ready for them with plenty of security guards in the party and wheel chairs just outside. Although these “party poopers” were an annoyance they were, for the most part, handled efficiently.

The wheelchairs ready and waiting…

The ugly: We arrived at the resort the evening of the Neon Party. At first observation it looked super fun and I’m sure that it was. However, our group was given rooms in buildings 7 and 8. Both are just steps from the party location. Since our flight had left Saskatoon early that morning most of us were looking forward to a good nights sleep. This wasn’t an option for many in our group as the party raged on and then the party-goers made their way to their rooms hooting and hollering in the halls for a few more hours. Not only could we hear the music, it was rattling our patio doors! This was not an ideal way to start our vacation and I strongly suggest requesting rooms far from the location of the party if you value your sleep or are travelling with children that you want to keep on a bedtime schedule. This may, unfortunately, mean choosing not to have an ocean view room at this hotel.

Another great thing about the pool parties is if they are something that you are not interested in, you’ll have the rest of the resort “to yourself” since so many people attend the pool parties.

98Cool’s Gregger and his wife Ang got fully into the Jungle theme
Just a few from our group hanging out on the side of the party, people watching and having a blast.

If you do go, my advice is to just jump in and have fun. You are sure to have an amazing time. But also bring some tips. The staff working the pool party are working extremely hard and certainly deserve a little extra thank you. (I saw one man bussing tables IN the pool fully clothed.)

I’ll be back RIU Pool Parties. I promise.

Interested in booking a trip to the RIU Santa Fe or the Dominican Republic to take advantage of this amazing all inclusive feature? Reach out to our team!

98Cool Goes To Cabo – Part Two

Here we are on the plane; our week of fun in the sun has ended.

The whole group looking fancy for our farewell dinner

I can honestly say that the bonding, laughs, friendly competitions and fun had on this trip was so much more than I ever anticipated. Since everyone was from around Saskatoon it seemed that each person was somehow connected with the next. As we learned more about each other we found out that some members of the group happen to be excellent singers while others dance to the beat of their own drum. Games of cribbage and bingo were played by the pools. We all danced together on the catamaran and at the Jungle Party. Many meals were shared whether as just a few or in big groups. It was so heartwarming to be a part of these new bonds; knowing that an idea of putting together a group of strangers was a huge success.

Conversations around meeting up as a group back home are heating up. We’ll see if it ends up being a karaoke meet up at Crackers, a summer bbq, crashing my Destination Wedding or maybe we’ll just all have to wait until next winter’s group getaway. Whenever we all see each other again, I know I can’t wait!

Birthday Buddies

Interested in planning a group getaway of your own? Our team of experienced agents would love to help you find the perfect location, get you a competitive quote and make the arrangements as carefree as possible. Reach out to us!


Paradisus Playa del Carmen is Perfect For Everyone


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:


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!


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.


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.


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.

Mexican Christmas – The Need For Travel Insurance

I often get asked…”Do I really need Travel Insurance? Will anything really happen to me?” I always answer – Probably not…..BUT what if it does? Do you want to be the one worried about medical costs and getting good medical care because you DON’T have insurance? I also get asked if I always take the insurance myself. That answer is EVERY SINGLE TIME. I know and have seen first-hand the devastation that not having travel insurance can cause. The parents whose son breaks a leg and now they are out thousands of dollars, or the ear infection that keeps you from flying home and costs you even more. I have witnessed how fog and a cancelled flight result in a $1000 claim and a broken arm without a cast – basically an X-ray and a prescription can cost over $700 USD.


Monster Waves in Puerto Vallarta

This trip – with 12 family members reminded me of how quickly the unexpected can happen. My sister’s mother in law, on her 68th birthday, was tossed around by a wave and presumably hit her head on a rock on the bottom of the ocean. She was taken off the beach by some medics in a wheelchair and assessed. In the end, they suspected a possible fractured cheekbone and a possible fractured neck as well as a concussion. The medics shuffled around, looking a bit nervous, suggesting she go to the hospital, possibly in a taxi or a van, but preferably an ambulance. Once they found out she had insurance, there was a palpable feeling of relief. They called the ambulance, arranged for her to go to a good hospital where the doctors speak English well and she could be looked after.


Private hospital room

The ambulance driver was familiar right away with Manulife and said the front desk of the emergency room would be as well. There were a few glitches with calling the Manulife numbers, but we worked that out and they were able to call us on our cell phones to arrange for care and payment of care at the hospital. After 4 hours of emergency care, Xrays and a CT scan, it was determined she had a concussion and a severely sprained neck, but no fractures. They would keep her overnight for observation…….and a bill at that point, after four hours was over $5,000 USD.

A $200 CDN policy for her ensured that she had complete coverage and upfront payment for every penny. It would also cover things like taxi’s back to the hotel, extra meals and if needed extra hotel stays and changes to flights home. She nearly lost her prescription glasses. If she had, that also would have been covered.

So….next time you wonder if you can afford travel insurance, ask yourself if you can afford to NOT have it. If you have work or credit card insurance, ask who you call if there is an emergency and if they will pay up front or if you have to pay the bill and HOPE to be reimbursed. Do they cover only yourself, or your family as well? If changes to your trip need to be made, are those airline fees and extra costs of staying in destination covered? Are there pre-existing exclusions? Or does it cover anything unexpected?

I have to say that being the travel agent for this trip, as well as participating and knowing that the injured person had the Premium Protection Plan, meant that I never doubted for a single moment that she would have excellent coverage for all of her medical bills.

So, from sunny Puerto Vallarta, Merry Christmas and remember to make sure that travel insurance and peace of mind are part of the gift of travel this year.


The Beautiful Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta


Jamie’s Vallarta Group Adventure – Final Blog

Wow!  Once again, we managed to pack an awful lot of fun into our last few days in Puerto Vallarta.  Our entire 7 days were sunny, 27 Degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  You really can’t beat the weather here!  The highlight of our last couple of days was getting to release baby turtles into the sea.  This normally takes place earlier in the fall, but this year there were still baby turtles hatching in early January, so we were lucky to be able to participate in this event.  The Concierge at the Marival let us know that they would be releasing the turtles at the Luna condominium complex, about a 20 minute walk down the beach at sunset.  We took a bunch of the kids down and for 32 pesos per adult (government fee) and a donation, we got to listen to a biologist and some volunteers tell us all about the endangered species of sea turtle that lives in this bay and how they are helping to repopulate them.  They hold the newly hatched turtles in a safe area until sunset as their chance of survival is best at this time of day – with less threat of being eaten by birds or fish on their way into the sea.  It was truly an amazing experience and my 8 year old has been talking about it for days.  If you are interested in this type of activity, just inquire with the concierge at the Grand Marival and they will let you know when/if it is taking place.

We also had the chance to try two other a la carte restaurants, the Amalfi Italian Restaurant and Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant.  For the Amalfi, we had a group reservation that the hotel was kind enough to reserve in advance for us.  It is a very good, but very long dining experience.  It would be fantastic as a romantic date for a couple and they have tables overlooking the sea and sunset.  It took about 2 ½ hours for our 5 course dinner, which was just a little long for the kids – we had everyone from our group, all 35 at this restaurant so there were lots of kids.  The service was also outstanding and they were very accommodating of the kids.  The Las Palomas, we enjoyed just the two of us, with no kids.  It was a very nice dining experience.  The restaurant is very Mexican in feel and they start you off with an assortment of appetizers to share as well as fresh guacamole made tableside.  After that you pick your soup and salad and main course and then there is desert samples for sharing.  They change the menu here several times a week – we had the Baked red snapper and a soup that had chicken and rice and avocado – the food was very good and it was probably my favorite meal of the week.


Table-side Guacamole (we were too excited and ate most of it before taking a picture)

We considered using the services of the doctor at the hotel as one of our twins had a fever and bad cough for a few days and we wanted to get her checked out before our flight home.  When we went to the doctors office on site, the doctor wasn’t in yet.  By the time we could have gone back, she was starting to feel better, so we decided against going.  The doctor is on site from 11am-6pm most days and the cost to visit the doctor is $50 USD, plus additional if medical or additional services, etc are needed.  It was very convenient having the option to see a doctor right on site.

A few other observations and tips about the Grand Marival – there is a kids playground at the kids club that you can use anytime and it’s right beside the Mini golf.  The Mini golf is shaded most of the day, so a good activity for kids to get out of the sun for a bit.  There is also an Arcade/teen area with pool tables that lots of our kids enjoyed, even if they weren’t quite teens.  They allowed kids of all ages in this area, but younger kids needed to be supervised.  They have an area by the quiet pool set up every day where kids can paint a piece of pottery for $10 USD and they will finish it and glaze it and you can pick it up the next day.  The kids liked this and it was a nice keepsake.  Last but not least, the pool bar at the quiet pool had bartenders who make the classic Caesar drink and they made them very well.  This was a nice surprise for us Canadians who enjoy our Caesars!

Our return trip home was pretty smooth.  The shuttle was right on time and it was only 15 minutes to the airport.  The check in and security lines moved pretty quickly.  Once through security, there were lots of dining options and duty free, but it was BUSY!  There were a lot of flights leaving late afternoon on the weekends and there were a lot of long lineups to get food and it was hard to find a place to sit.  Otherwise, the flights were pretty close to being on time and the biggest hiccup was a long wait for luggage at the Saskatoon airport – again with no strollers as they didn’t bring them to the gate.  That was probably the biggest annoyance of the whole trip was having to do the Customs and baggage waits with no strollers both ways.  All in all, it was a fantastic trip – as my 8 year old said “best trip ever!”.  We loved experiencing this destination as a group and getting to spend lots of time together and the kids had a blast.  Looking forward to the next one already!

If you enjoyed hearing all about my vacation feel free to check out Uniglobe Carefree Travel’s Instagram page where our whole team shares photos of their best vacation moments.  You can find us at @UniglobeCarefreeTravel.


Jamie’s Vallarta Group Adventure – Part 2

Let’s see, where did I leave off?  I think we had just arrived and had our first of many great days at the Grand Marival in Puerto Vallarta.  We have had so many fun adventures since then, it seems like it’s been longer than a couple of days.

On Tuesday nights, the resort has a Mexican Fiesta.  I have been to a few Mexican Fiestas and this was one of the best.  The setup was gorgeous in the courtyard.  They close the Buffet this night, so they suggested we go early to the Fiesta.  We arrived about half hour before it opened and one of us stood in line to get tables for our family.  We were one of the first tables seated and they opened the Fiesta and the food right on time.  We were one of the first to be allowed to eat because they keep track of who arrived first.  The food was fantastic – for a buffet for many, many people (I estimate around 800 or more), they did such a good job.  The food was fresh, hot and tasty.  They had made to order taco stations and the waiter service for drinks, etc was so fast and efficient.  I would definitely recommend that you take this in, if you can.  They had Mexican Mariachi bands and dancers.  It was a fun night out.


Mexican Fiesta

We had a few of our kids try the trampoline clinic.  It is 50 pesos (less than $4 per child).  They harness them in and they get to jump and do flips – they had a great time.  I would highly recommend for the low cost, it was great entertainment and the kids loved it.


Trampoline clinic


Trampoline clinic

We tried the Pergola International restaurant last night for dinner.  The food was really good and so was the service.  They have everything from surf and turf to coconut shrimp and BBQ Ribs.  I would recommend that you order one thing from eat category (appetizer, soup, salad, main, etc) as the portions are small, but we really enjoyed our meal.  We will try the Italian and the Mexican restaurants later this week.

The buffet has improved as the resort has become less busy.  Breakfasts are good and quick with a couple of made to order egg stations and lots of choices.  Lunch and dinner have not been as busy or lined up either – so a much better experience.


Beautiful Pool at the Grand Marival

I will mention that tipping is widely expected at the resort, but 20 pesos (around $1.50 CDN) goes a long way and they really do earn it.  The service at the resort has been fantastic – everyone from the housekeeping to the bar tenders has been as good as or better than I have seen at most resorts.  All in all, the Grand Marival has been exceptional value for what we paid to come and we are happy with it.

Thanks for following and more to come!


Jamie’s Vallarta Group Adventure – part 1

It was about 18 months ago that we decided to plan a family and friends group winter holiday.  It’s something that we have been wanting to do for a few years as we thought it would be fun for all of our kids to get a chance to play and holiday together while us adults get a chance to spend time catching up.  We have quite a few families and most have 2 to 4 kids, so we were looking for a nice resort that was a good value and could accommodate large families in one room.

In the end, we decided on the Grand Marival in Puerto Vallarta and this week we have 35 people, including 15 children vacationing here.   The Grand Marival has 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites, in addition to their regular hotel rooms.  All of our families are easily accommodated and there are many activities for kids of all ages.


Welcome to the Grand Marival Resort & Suites

On January 1st we flew out of Saskatoon on Transat.  The check in process took quite a while as they have a new system and it was taking a while for the staff to get the hang of it so we were glad we were there the full three hours ahead of time. Our flight was on time and arrived a few minutes early.  All in all, the flight went well and I was impressed with Transat. They have a lot of extras if you sign your kids up for the free kids club.  The families with these kids get priority check in, priority baggage, free snacks on board and more.  We also selected the Option Plus with Transat which allowed us more luggage, priority check in, advance seat selection, two drinks and snacks on board.  For the extra $49, it felt worthwhile.

Unlike Last year when we went to Hawaii, the kids were great on the flight.  I would recommend when traveling with little ones to take lots of activities, stickers, books, snacks and games as well as their favorite tv shows on the Ipad to keep them entertained.  Sippy cups, favorite blankets, etc are also a good idea.

We had a few issues when we landed in Puerto Vallarta.  The strollers were not brought to the gate like they were supposed to be, so we had to carry our two year old twins, plus all of the carry on luggage and try to keep track of an eight year old, while waiting in some pretty long lineups for about an hour.  We finally made it through customs a bit grumpy and with sore arms, but by that time our luggage was waiting and we headed to our private group transfer, arranged by Transat.  It was a quick 15 minute ride to the Grand Marival where we were given a cold margarita or beer (which never tasted so good!) and we were checked in without much delay.  They probably could have used one or two more people at check in as those who got off the bus last had a bit of a wait, around 20-30 minutes before they were checked in.  Our luggage was delivered to our room 10 minutes after we checked in – very efficient.

We arrived around 6pm, so we were hungry and headed to the buffet.  The Buffet is the only disappointment so far.  It’s nowhere near big enough for everyone when the Club and Grand sides are both full.  There is only one buffet to serve both and it’s smaller than buffets that I have been to at much smaller resorts.  There were lineups to get in, to get a table and to get any of the food stations.  In the end, the kids were tired, hungry and screaming mad, so we left without really eating anything.  We found the Pizza restaurant nearby and it was not busy, so we ate there.  There is wood fired pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and really good salsa and guacamole and other snack bar type items as well as a bar.  It filled the need and we soon had the kids fed and off to bed.

Our room is a 2 bedroom suite.  It’s two levels with one bedroom and bath upstairs and one bedroom, two bathrooms, kitchen and living room downstairs.  Two bedroom suites get 4 free wifi devices; I think one bedroom and grand rooms get 2 free devices.   It’s very roomy and the cribs we had asked for were waiting in our room.  I had ordered welcome baskets for our guests and they were waiting or delivered shortly after check in.  Everything I had asked of the hotel was taken care of very efficiently.  They were very good to deal with, from a group perspective.


A perfect sunset from the beautiful Grand Marival Resort & Suites

Our first day, we had breakfast at the buffet, which went better than dinner, but it was still just an “ok” experience.  I was able to make dinner reservations for the A la cartes with no problem, despite the hotel being full.  Transat guests are guaranteed three reservations.  We have a group reservation at the Italian and on our own we will also try the International and the Mexican.  They have a couple of gift shops if you forgot anything at home and a couple of bars as well as a disco.  The service has been phenomenal.  I wanted dish soap to wash some bottles and I asked at the front desk.  They called housekeeping and 30 minutes later dish soap was brought to our room.  I needed milk for the babies and any of the bars on the resort will give me a full jug of milk to take to our room if I ask, instead of just glasses of it or having to fill up bottles at the buffet.

The Marival has many pool areas.  They have an adults’ only pool, a quiet pool, a large and busy activities pool and a perfect kids’ pool area.  The kids’ pool has three little water slides and a splash feature and it’s quite shallow.  The kids – even the bigger ones – absolutely have a blast there and they literally spent all day – 8-10 hours in the pool and complained when we finally made them get out.  They are having so much fun playing together, it’s great to see and makes this all worthwhile – it even makes me forget about the long and tiring travel day.

The beach and ocean area great for swimming and lots of the kids spent time with the boogie boards and kayaks – free for guests.  The weather is a perfect 28 degrees and sunny and supposed to stay that way for the whole week!  (happy face)

We will keep you posted on our Vallarta Group Adventure as the week goes along.  In the meantime, a few tips for planning your own group holiday:

Book early to secure the best flights, prices and the resort you want. This also gives your guests time to plan, take time off work and save for the holiday.  Most tour operators will give you a onetime price drop guarantee for group bookings so there is little risk that you would get a better rate if you waited to book.

Take everyone’s needs into consideration when choosing a resort – do the room types work for you?  Is the flight convenient?  Are their activities that everyone in the group will enjoy?  Do you want all inclusive?

-Make sure you book with a reputable agency and an agent familiar with group bookings who knows how to get you the most for your group.  This will include things like communicating with the hotel in advance to ensure your requests are noted and your needs are met.

Heather’s Punta Cana Destination Wedding Adventure

Here I am at the gorgeous Now Larimar in Punta Cana for my friend Tara’s destination Wedding.  This is a new adventure for me, since not only have I never been a part of a destination wedding, I’ve never been a part of a wedding at all.  So far, we’re having a blast just hanging out as a group and exploring the resort and the Dominican Republic.  Today most of the group went on an excursion to Sanoa Island.  This is an uninhabited island with amazing beaches.  The excursion included a looooooong bus ride to the Caribbean side of the island (Punta Cana is actually located on the North Eastern side of the Dominican Republic, so it’s in the Atlantic Ocean), then a catamaran (party boat) for a few hours out to the island, a few hours with a bbq lunch on the island, a speed boat ride back to the main land with a stop along the way at a “natural pool” to see if we could find any star fish.   Personally, I thought the excursion was a lot of fun but it did seem odd that there was no actual snorkeling included.   Because we were about 20 people we were super lucky and had a private catamaran!  That meant our party boat was soley for us!  It was a bit early for drinks at first but we had a great time soaking up the sun and dancing with the crew. Of course, because I have blue eyes and am single the men working on the boat were all trying to be my “Dominican boyfriend”.  Have you ever experienced this?  It’s something I’m quite certain most North American women go through at some point.  The men being extra flattering and flirtatious.  It’s always fun as long as you remember that it’s all for fun, you can’t take it seriously. The other parts of the tour were very enjoyable as well but the best part was the private catamaran, it felt like it was something special, just for our group.   I loved Saona Island for its laid back feeling, unfortunately they seem to have a real problem with bees there.  When we arrived on the beach we noticed a lot of bees around,  near a garbage can they had some sugar water out for them.  This was supposed to “distract” the bees from us.  Well… it’s been 22 years since I’ve been stung by a bee and let me tell you, it hurts just as much now as it did when I was a kid!  (I cried less this time around but honestly have probably whined more haha)  I’m not sure why they have so many bees but it seems like something they should work to resolve.  I still think the excursion is amazing, just maybe not something I would recommend to someone who has an allergy…

One other thing I wanted to talk about is how great it is to travel with someone who hasn’t done it before.  I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, I know I loved doing it with various members of my family.  Tonight I had supper at one of the a la cartes with some of my friends.  One who has traveled to all inclusive resorts before and two who have not.  It was so fun to see their excitement and complete wonder as their food arrived.  My one friend had outbursts like “best fish I’ve had in my life!” and “oh my god have you guys tasted these potatoes” throughout the whole meal.  I loved seeing the complete joy and excitement over things that I’ve started to see as “normal” because I’m a bit spoiled by my job.  If you tend to travel to all inclusive resorts and don’t check out the A La Carte restaurants I say reconsider for next time.  The food is generally exceptional and the atmosphere is beautiful.

Now Larimar

Heather’s Dreams Puerto Vallarta!

Heather’s Puerto Vallarta Dream – Pt 2

Well I’ve been back in Canada for a week now and man do I ever miss Mexico!   The rest of my week was amazing.  The weather got far less cloudy on Tuesday, to the point where some cousins busted out their spf 110! (I honestly didn’t even know you could get spf 110.)

Some cousins and I caught a cab into town and went shopping on Tuesday afternoon.  We visited the market on the island, a tequila store (go see Jose Ibarra for the best deals and a no pressure experience), and of course Hermanos for some shoes!  I got some cute flats for 99 pesos, you can’t get a deal like that anywhere in Canada!    We had a great time shopping downtown and most of us went more than once.  There was never a moment where we felt unsafe, I felt a lot more safe than I do in Saskatoon actually.  Except maybe while crossing the street… that’s a bit scary!

Back at the resort it was Mardi Gras!  Kids were doing a treasure hunt and everyone was wearing beads and costumes.  It seems like there was a great party happening but we did miss a lot of it on our shopping adventure.  Dreams is great for that, they have amazing kids activities.  We noticed some awesome movies playing on the beach some nights (I really wanted to go watch Madagascar but felt that I was too old to sit and watch cartoons with the kids.  Especially since I don’t have one of my own.)

Since the sun came out we had a great rest of our week enjoying more boogie boarding, kayaking (I have the bumps and bruises to prove that one), water aerobics, dance lessons by the pool, and ping pong tournaments.   A few of us went on the Mariates Eco Discovery with Vallarta Adventures on Wednesday.   We had a great time on the boat learning about the different birds, whales and dolphins in the area then went snorkeling.  After the educational part it became a bit of a party boat and the crew even acted out Grease.  Overall this excursion was a blast.

On our last night our entire group decided to check out the “Last Saskatchewan Pirate” which was a tour we purchased through our Transat rep.  My immediate family had actually done this tour last year but we talked about it so much the rest of the family thought we should check it out.  We had an absolute blast.  The food on the ship is amazing (I recommend the steak) and the entertainment is so much fun.  Maybe it’s because they make sure you never have an empty cup, but every member of our group loved this night.  Our personal pirate Julio was exceptional.  He had a larger group of guests than any of the other pirates but yet we never seemed to need a thing.  He was always there to make sure we had our drinks and meals.  I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Puerto Vallarta (if you’re not from Canada, you may want to consider a night other than the “Canadian” nights.).    It was awesome to be able to go out as a group and just enjoy each other as well.  Since we were such a big group we didn’t necessarily get to see everyone throughout the week, different people have different interests.  It’s a nice way to have our quality time I guess.

Our last day at Dreams was good.  We had to check out by noon and our transfer wasn’t picking us up until around 10:30 so it was a bit of a long day with no rooms to go to but we made the best of it.  For the most part we hung out by the pool.   The hotel had their Mexican Fiesta that night which was wonderful.  I asked one of the entertainment staff members to get us a table for 18 and he hooked us up with two tables for 10.  A mariachi band played and some dancers preformed.  A man and his son came to the resort and made balloon hats for everyone there.  It was a really silly way for us to end our vacation with a lot of laughs and some squeaky colourful hats.

Hola from Dreams Puerto Vallarta!

My extended family has discovered the awesomeness of traveling as a group.  This is our second big family vacation and from the sounds of it, it will not be our last.  The amazing thing about traveling with 17 other people that you know and love is that there is always someone doing something that you want to do, you want to go into town and go shopping, there’s someone doing that, you want to go on an excursion, there’s someone doing that too, you want to sit by the pool, of course someone else will be there to talk to!  There are always people ready to play the “crazy games” by the pool or up for playing football on the beach.    It’s great to spend quality time with people you might not see regularly and just remember who you all are.   I highly recommend doing this with your family or friends!

Dreams is a great resort of this type of trip.  It’s small enough that you can always find someone but also big enough that it does not feel crowded.  There are tons of activities to keep us busy (we’ve been doing a lot of boogie boarding and some people have some serious battle scars to prove it).  We’re close enough to town that it’s only a five dollar cab ride in (or seven pesos bus ride!) if you want to go shopping or clubbing.  The food so far has been excellent.   The day time entertainment is always great; they are constantly looking for people who want to play volleyball, water aerobics, do crafts, cocktail lessons, whatever.  The nightly entertainment can be hit and miss but for our group this isn’t a problem.  We entertain ourselves.   Last night was Casino night which seemed to be a hit with a lot of the family.   Tonight is Mardi Gras so that should be a lot of fun.

Yesterday 10 members of the group went on the Outdoor Adventure excursion with Vallarta Adventures.  They were gone for about six hours and they came back PUMPED.  It’s an awesome excursion including a speed boat, a donkey ride, zip lining and rappelling.  They said there were some spots where they would just free fall for about 20 feet.  Apparently my one cousin is a legend after that drop.  They saw a lot of beautiful landscape and came back with tons of stories.  They even ventured out of their comfort zones and took a city bus back to the hotel instead of a cab.

Meanwhile some of us just chilled by the pool enjoying the 2 hours of solid sunshine we were blessed with.  The weather has been a bit odd for Puerto Vallarta.   It’s cooler than it typically is and it has been quite cloudy.  We don’t mind, so far there are no sunburns to report which is a pretty big deal for our pasty clan.

Tomorrow some of us will go on a snorkeling excursion and hopefully see some whales too.   Another family that is traveling with us is going to do some deep sea fishing today.  I heard that they may be able to get the seafood restaurant here to cook whatever they catch!

Alright I’m off to breakfast and then shopping in the city!