Last week, we started The Boy’s birthday celebrations with a surprise dinner at Kobe’s Steakhouse with our family and friends in St. Louis. Ever since our first trip out of the country together to Punta Cana, we’ve both been excited to explore new countries and cultures together. A huge milestone, like turning 30, seemed like the perfect opportunity to add another stamp to our passports…plus who wouldn’t love to be on the beach in December?
I decided on Mexico and in honor of his youthful spirit and love of partying, the destination notorious for its popularity with party seeking spring breakers, Cancun, seemed perfect. I am also a fan of Mexico because of its proximity to the US (short flights) and affordability. It’s definitely a great option for travelers on a budget, seeking an international experience. So let’s get into the details….
We stayed at the Crown Paradise Club Cancun, an all inclusive resort where every room has an ocean view. Once I found out how family oriented this hotel was, I decided to upgrade our room to an adult only floor. This upgrade gave us free in-room wifi, access to a special lounge/bar, “prioritized” dinner reservations, exclusive coupons, in-room jacuzzi, and a complementary bottle of sparkling wine. I have the prioritization of dinner reservations in quotes because while we were allowed to turn in a piece of paper with our dinner reservations for our entire stay by 12pm the day after our arrival, this left us high and dry for our first night (all the restaurants were full when we got there) and did not allow us to change to any other restaurants after the initial reservations were made.
There was a TON of construction going on during our visit. While it was not disruptive noise wise, it made navigation around the resort really confusing. For instance, the special lounge/bar was closed and subsequently moved to some other space (I don’t think we ever found it). Also, the entrance/arrival did nothing to excite me since they had so much construction going on. The staff was fairly friendly, despite the frequent language barrier. However, per the website and my confirmation details all tips/gratuities were included. Apparently the staff missed the memo, as they had no problem shamelessly lingering around for a tip.
The resort is home to seven specialty restaurants. Collectively, they offer every type of cuisine you can think of from Mexican to French. During our stay we went to La Piazza (Italian) and Fishermans (Seafood and Mexican). Because the Mexican restaurant was closed, they offered the full menu at Fishermans. I must say the food was delicious! So much so that I didn’t even have time to take pictures! What was even better was that because the resort is all inclusive, we could order as many entrees as we wanted. Before you start throwing rocks for wasting food or thinking I’m a bottomless pit, the portion sizes weren’t terribly large. The small portions and ability to order everything, ended up being an awesome way for us to try a wide variety of offerings. Other than the restaurants, there was a buffet that wasn’t anything special and a snack bar that definitely complimented the large amount of tequila and corona we were drinking.
As I mentioned, all of the restaurants were full when we arrived. Because our arrival was on The Boy’s actual birthday, I wanted to do something a little more special than the buffet. Our group decided to take the bus (it cost 1 USD or about 11 pesos) to what I would consider “downtown Cancun”. Here, there were bars, restaurants, clubs, and shopping. The area kind of reminded me of the Las Vegas Strip (sans the casinos) with all of the bright lights and tourists walking the street. We went to an Argentinian steakhouse called Cambalache. I’m never in a rush to go to a steakhouse and am totally the type of person that goes to one and will order salmon, but baaaaaaaaaaby this place was THEBOMB.COM! I had the short ribs and the meat was literally falling of the bone. We basically ate in silence because we were all so busy enjoying our food. You can expect to spend 100-120 USD for two people if they each get their own entree. However, they do have entrees that are meant to be shared for lower prices. If you’re planning a trip to Cancun and need a nicer dinner to spruce up an occasion, this is the place to go!
Days before our trip, the forecast predicted non-stop rain for our entire stay. Clearly this thwarted my lay on the beach and boat day plans, BUT we still managed to find fun things to do. Rainy weather = mud, which is perfect for riding ATVs. For $106 USD/person, we booked a half day excursion with Aventuras Mayas to ride ATVs, zip-line, and swim/snorkel in the cenotes (underground caves). The price also included round-trip transportation and an authentic Mexican lunch. Our host was friendly, knowledgeable, hilarious, and most importantly kept us alive the entire day. Even when The Boy drove our ATV into a tree and one of us had a zip-lining fail, he was right there to be sure we weren’t injured and making light of the situation. The cenote swimming was a first for me and I hope not the last. The caves were beautiful and the water was so clear! W The authentic Mexican lunch did not disappoint and I was thrilled to try a little real Mexican food.
The night we went to Cambalache, we decided to stay in the area and visit the all too familiar Fat Tuesdays. Most of the drinks were the same as the ones in America, but I must say the staff was a lot more lively and interactive. They encouraged people to dance on a raised platform, take shots, and sing. There was even a conga line and a Michael Jackson performance! I would only caution you to be sure you have pesos if you’re going here. They were charging us quite a bit more because we had USD and tried to play it off like we were crazy.
All-in-all this trip was unforgettable. Granted we had stellar company, but Cancun itself lived up to all of my expectations for a 30th birthday celebration for my better half. I couldn’t have planned this without the help of our amazing travel agent, Miki Jones. If you’re planning a vacation, please consider allowing Miki to take the headache out of the planning process. She will fight to find you a good deal and making sure you have a memorable trip is her top priority!
Have you ever been to Cancun? What are your favorite things to do on vacation? What activities do you do when it rains during your vacation?