Mexico: Riviera Maya: Places: Family-Friendly Culture and Beach in Mexico
Family-Friendly Culture and Beach in Mexico
For Easter break I took my three children aged 15, 14 and 9 to Mexico from London where we live. First we flew from wild Miami (there was a DJ carnival) to Merida in the Yucatan and spent two nights at the Hacienda San Temozan, which we all loved. An old sisal factory, the Hacienda feels very Mexican with big high ceilings, lots of dark wood and space and beautiful, lush gardens. While the children loved the Hacienda, they were less impressed with Merida and the ruins. Too hot for their London-bred bodies.
From Merida, we took a short flight (versus a long car trip) to Cancun and have spent a glorious four days at Escencia, near Playa del Carmen. This morning at breakfast I asked the children if they thought we’d booked too long in one resort (we have another four days here), the older two quickly said we weren’t staying long enough. Esencia is an oasis of lovely calm on this busy, touristy stretch of highway. We love everything about this hotel, which feels very Mexican with just the right amount of modern touches: the friendly, helpful staff speaks perfect English, the bathrooms work beautifully, and there are iPod stations in the bedrooms. Every morning, I wake to a thermos of coffee placed quietly on my terrace while I sleep. I then meander down to the beach for an energizing yoga class in the shade. Breakfast by the pool with a view of the sea is delicious with a variety of Western and Mexican dishes. Plus there’s so much to do here for kids. We’ve snorkeled in caves with the very handsome guide Diego (looks just like actor Matthew McConaughey), visited a nature preserve called Ixtapa (highlights include an aquarium, giant gliding tortoises and vibrant pink flamingoes) and plan on swimming with dolphins, doing a cooking class with Esencia’s chef and snorkeling. The spa here is very peaceful (my feet never realized how good a lime and orange soak could feel).
Last night we decided to visit the Fairmont Mayakoba for a drink and then dine nearby at the Mandarin Oriental. Both of them seemed so big and corporate compared to Esencia. At both the Fairmont and the Mandarin, golf carts play an essential role ferrying guests back and forth from one of the restaurants to the pool to the beach to the main lobby etc. At Esencia, I walk everywhere. Barefoot. The Mandarin, which we all preferred to the huge and sterile Fairmont, is too Asian for me here in Mexico. The Mandarin is beautiful, and I am sure it works for golfers and that the “yoga building” has every possible amenity, but I like the simplicity and charm of our Mexican hideaway.— Elena Bowes 05/13/2008