Living under a direct flight path near the Edmonton International Airport in snowy cold Alberta, I see many planes fly overhead everyday and I always wonder what magical destination they are flying to. We have happily dropped off many a family friend to the airport, yet our family of 5 has dreamed of our very own tropical vacation as we have never travelled outside of Canada together. We finally saved our pennies, and as our oldest son will be 18 this year, we figured 2014 was our year to fly. I’m a researcher (it’s annoying really), and for weeks I researched different resorts and destinations. I quickly realized it’s no small task finding a nice yet affordable resort that is family-of-5 friendly. Most resorts tailor their room bookings to maximum occupancy 4 (thank you Tanya Schneider, at Fareconnect for all your help). Our friends recommended Sandos Palyacar, a convenient 40 minute drive from beautiful and sunny Cancun, Mexico. I spent weeks pouring over reviews and searching for photos. This is the main reason for this lengthly post, in hopes other families will find it useful in their research.
After much annoying research, I was confident that Sandos Playacar was a perfect fit for our family as there are many activities for our kids (ages 9, 12, and 17) plus lots of perks for us adults too. We booked a Hacienda suite for all 5 of us, which included a smaller pool, hot tub, and hammocks right outside our door (shared pool space with 8 other suites, but we mostly had it to ourselves). My kids were over the moon excited, they have never been on a plane or dipped their toes in an ocean. We needed this time together as a family.
Finally, the much dreamed about day arrived, and we travelled to the airport through a typical Alberta spring blizzard. My kids giggled in their seat as our plane took off. My daughter wrote a special entry in her journal during the flight…
Five and half hours later we arrived and the heat hit us like a warm welcoming hug defrosting the Alberta icicles of our soul (we’ve had a loooooong winter, no exaggeration). The sun was setting as we travelled to Sandos Playacar, the palm trees were gently swaying in the humid hot breeze and we pulled up to the resort.
Check in was quick and we were all served something cool to drink. We were whisked off to our “Hacienda” via a lively little golf cart ride. It was dark at that point, so the next morning carried with it so much eye candy this photographer geek didn’t know what to do with herself.
We awoke to the sounds of birds of paradise as beams of sunlight flooded our room. My husband and I enjoyed a fresh cup of hot coffee on our patio as the kids quickly wiped the sleep out of their eyes and jumped into the little pool outside our room.
Palm trees, coconuts, pools filled with happy families, mayan ruins, a peacock, monkeys, donkeys, papaya trees, vibrant flowers, and the most pristine beautiful white sandy beach along the crystal clear blue green ocean awaited us just a few sandy steps away.
The first thing we did was take our kids to see the ocean.
This moment right here? My kids very first toes in the sand ocean wave experience…
Yay I have long arms, they come in handy…
We quickly learned the staff at the Sandos Playacar resort are very kind, friendly and helpful. We booked an excursion through the resort with “Mystic Adventure” to see 2 Cenotes via Quads. The word “Cenote” is derived from the Mayan word “dzonot” which means sacred well. A cenote is a natural phenomenon, a fresh water sink hole that the ancient Mayan civilization used as their main source of fresh water. The Mayans also believed the Cenotes had healing properties and considered many of them to be sacred; an portal to the underworld to communicate with the Gods.
The first Cenote we quadded to was small, refreshing, and beautiful. A private paradise in the middle of the jungle rich in history and meaning.
The second Cenote we went too is called “Dos Ojos” meaning “two eyes”. It’s actually two circular cenotes which provides many areas to scuba dive, snorkel, swim, and explore under a canopy of limestone. It was amazing!
I wasn’t sure how my 9 year old daughter would do with her first snorkelling experience, but I should never have doubted her, she did great.
We all loved it, definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
We attempted an underwater family shot…
After noticing our family flailing around in the water with a camera, our tour guide offered to get in the water and take one for us 🙂
After enjoying a hot tamale we headed back to our resort to explore even more that Sandos has to offer.
From my happy heart to yours,