Posted in Travel

Mexico Recap: Part 1


Well, I had some time to sort through my photos and look at my notes in order to get started sharing about our vacation.

We were all so excited for this trip, and I’m glad we waited until early July. We were plenty busy in June, and now we still have some summer left after this vacation.

So, let’s get started…


We were up bright and early on Saturday to finish packing last minute items and hit the road for Cincinnati. Our flight actually didn’t leave until 12:30, but we left our house at 8:30. We hit up Starbucks for coffee and breakfast before starting the one hour 15 minute drive. We got our car parked and took the shuttle to check in. The line was pretty long for me to check my bag, but once it got moving, it was fine. Travis and the kids went on through security while I waited to check my bag.

I found them in terminal A, and we had a Subway sandwich while waited to board the plane.

Poor Hadley…our trip started off with some major tummy troubles for her…

…but we were excited to get on the plane.

Thankfully, everything was on time with no cancellations or delays. We were on a chartered flight, so maybe they were having less issues than the other bigger airlines?

Cincinnati to Cancun was a three hour direct flight. We all snoozed a bit, and I finished a book on my Kindle.

Hayden had the window seat and snapped this photo as we arrived:

We landed in Cancun around 3:30, and walked down the plane’s stairs directly to a tram that took us to customs. We got our passports stamped and headed to baggage claim (for just my bag *sigh*) After about twenty minutes, we got my bag and got in the chaotic line to turn in our forms for our stay in Mexico. Then we went outside to find our transportation. Nothing says vacay like a bar right by the transportation lanes. Travis snagged a beer, and we waited about 15 minutes for our van. We used a travel agent, and she set up the transportation through Nexus, and they were so efficient and helpful. We had a van all to ourselves for the 50 minute ride to …

Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres

(Again, with the help of our travel agent, we narrowed down our choices to Catalonia and another resort…I believe it was Dreams, but we ended up showing both to the kids for their input. Dreams seemed to have a few more things like slides and lazy river, whereas, Catalonia had the private pool). A friend of mine told us to join Facebook groups for the places we were interested in, and Travis did that. The private pool was the determining factor for the kids. Again, both seemed like good choices, but in the end, we were very happy with our decision.

This was the view right when we walked in to the lobby…and the ocean can be seen there in the distance.

While Travis checked us in, I hung with Hadley who still wasn’t feeling well, and Hayden enjoyed a welcome drink! haha

Basically, this resort had four main buildings of rooms. The bigger pool (party like pool) was between buildings 1 and 2. Between buildings 2 and 3 was 5th Avenue with restaurants, shops, and often times the nightly entertainment. Then, the family pool was between buildings 3 and 4. Because of the Facebook group, Travis knew to request building 4, and I’m so glad he did. It was the perfect spot for us.

We even got lucky to be at the far end of building 4 with only one room between us and the boardwalk to the beach.

We were in a “Privileged Grand Family Suite and Swim Up.” Besides having enough space for all of us and the private pool, “privileged” status meant we had access to a couple of restaurants that others didn’t as well as the shaded area of the beach, one hour at the spa for each adult, percent off of some items, and a few other “perks.”

This is the view as you walk in the room. It ended up that my kids took turn on the bottom bunk and then the other slept on the pull out couch. That pull out couch was an added bonus that I didn’t realize we had. There was a sliding glass door on the right with access to the private pool. There were smart tv’s in the living room and main bedroom, but we never turned them on.

As you walk in, to the left is a huge area with space to hang clothes, cubbies, fridge, etc. To the right was a really big bathroom and then the bedroom. The bedroom also had a sliding door to the patio/pool.

The room key was on a wrist band. We all had wrist bands, but at first, only Travis and I had the key on them. After a couple of days, we had the kids get the wristbands with the keys.

We got settled, and then I lost Travis. Well, I found him at the poolside bar which was right by our room. How convenient. (That bar did close around 7:00, so it was never loud). He did bring me back my first margarita of the trip. He handed it to me, and said, “I don’t think it’s skinny!” haha We later learned, if you say, “no sugar,” you got a skinnier version of the marg.

We let the kids swim for a bit….

…and then I wanted to see the beach!

The boardwalk was steps from our room.

The sun was setting, so we stayed a few minutes before heading to dinner.

For most restaurants, you needed a reservation for dinner, but not the buffet, so that’s where we went for dinner. When we got there, we realized there was a private room for privileged guests which was a nice touch.

The buffet was so nice, and had so many options. An overwhelming amount of options. Hayden ate all the things, and Travis and I had tacos. #wheninrome Poor Hadley could barely finish her toast.

After dinner, we walked around to get acclimated…

lobby area

This is 5th Ave. where there are shops and restaurants.

We came back to the room, and Hayden swam for a bit. Hadley still wasn’t feeling well, and we all were asleep by 10.


Since we woke up pretty hungry, we just hit the buffet again…and that’s when I remembered how much I love a churro. Hadley woke up feeling 90% better, so we were all thankful for that.

Usually if we had the buffet for breakfast, my fave breakfast was just coffee, an egg, pineapple (and maybe a churro ;).

On the way back to the room, we realized that lizards and iguanas are all around the property. Throughout the week, we really only saw them in the morning, so we knew to be on the lookout…not that they would harm anyone…just didn’t want to step on one…or be startled.

We made our way back to the room and then went to the beach for a few hours. Travis and Hadley rented the kayaks and had a great time. Hayden and Hadley went back out for a bit too. It was a good activity for them. (Also, there was a kids club at this resort, but I think it went to age 12, and my kids were fine just hanging with us. Again, the private pool allowed them to swim while Travis took a nap or I read) Later in the trip, we found the game room…I do think the kids would have used it a bit had we found it sooner.

I started Emily Giffin’s new book…I read it in two days. Loved it.

Then, the kids wanted to check out the other pool. Now the bigger infinity pool with waterfall and a few other things was “Pool A”….but my friend who was there a couple weeks before us mentioned it as more of a “party pool”…later in afternoon…and that did seem to be true. (This pool also had activities in the morning like aerobics, games, and more) We were there until around 2:00, and it was fine. (Also, both pools closed around 8:00 every night) The kids had a great time, and then it was time to find lunch.

We ended up on 5th Ave. at a burger/pizza place. Travis and Hayden got burgers, and Hadley and I had a couple of slices of pizza.

After lunch, I went back to the room. We stopped by the bar at the family pool and got a couple of margs. They kids and Travis hung out in the family pool…and this was my view from our pool:

(peep Hadley doing a handstand. haha)

We had a 7:00 dinner reservation at the Grille. This was our view while we waited:

Travis and Hayden ordered steaks, I had the sea bass (so good! and one of the reasons we went back there a few days later), Hadley had Caesar salad and mashed potatoes. She loved every bite.

(All the restaurants had the QR code that you could scan, and then for the dinners, you always had appetizer, entrée, side, and dessert options that you ordered all at once. The “Executive” level people had a few extra menu items and a couple of extra reserved tables and an additional restaurant…I guess those are travel members/time share holders?) We never had an issue getting a reservation, but Travis stayed on top of it, and you could do your reservations two days in advance.)

After dinner, we headed to 5th Ave. for the nightly entertainment. (I will say that if you were staying in the buildings between 5th Ave, the entertainment was always over by 10:00, and some nights the entertainment was in the theater or by the lobby)

Monday : 4th of July

Monday was the 4th of July, and Travis and I got coffee at Beloved which was one of our favorite restaurants. You don’t need a reservation there, but it’s reserved for “Privileged” and “Executive” guests.

We had coffee with a view and then took the kids to the buffet (Hayden loved the buffet!) for breakfast.

The buffet was decorated in red, white, and blue which was fun…so was Hadley!

Travis had already been to the gym, so I decided to get my elliptical workout in while I actually felt like doing it.

Then, we had some beach time…

Travis and the kids went back to the “party” pool for a bit while I stayed at the beach and read my book. Of the four of us, I enjoy the beach the most. That being said, I don’t get in the water much…it’s more about the view and shade of palm trees while reading that means vacay for me.

Travis and the kids were back in the family pool chatting with a family we ended up seeing most every day. They were from San Antonio and had kids my kids’ ages. Hayden suckered Travis into buying a football, but that is what kept Hayden entertained in the pool…and they’d play with the other kids too.

While I got ready, the kids hung out in our pool before dinner.

We had 6:00 dinner reservations at the Mexican restaurant (Adelita). Needless to say, they make a good margarita and guac! I got the fajitas, and they were amazing.

After dinner, we went to the beach for about 30 minutes to watch the sun set, and snap and 4th of July family photo.

We sported our red, white, and blue in a lowkey way. 😉

Then, we went and watched the entertainment. It was USA themed with all kinds of popular songs, dance routines, and some of the dancers were dressed as Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, the Statue of Liberty and more.

Around 10:00, we headed back to the room. Right as we got in our room, I heard fireworks. Hadley ran outside, and we were able to catch a short fireworks display from the resort next door. It was brief, but it made my American heart happy!


We started the morning with breakfast at Beloved. And…this is where I fell in love with their version of avocado toast (avocado “tostada”).

One thing I’m glad our travel agent told us to do was bring cash…mainly ones and fives to tip the bartenders, servers and cleaning staff and others. We didn’t have a single bad experience. Every server was friendly and made every effort to get our food out to us, refill drinks, and more.

More beach time…where I finished my book.

The kids had strawberry daiquiris…

…and then the weather turned iffy. These were the only rain clouds we saw all week.

….and there are all three of my people realizing maybe they should come in!

Right as they got out of the water, it down poured. We grabbed our stuff and headed straight to the kayak rental hut. After 15 minutes, the rain moved on and we went back to Adelita’s for lunch.

Tacos on a Tuesday…is there anything better?

Between pool A and 5th Ave., there was a crepiere that Hadley was dying to try. They served ice cream too, but both kids got Nutella crepes. This place was just open during the day, and there was also a couple of food trucks there too.

I went back to the beach and started my second book of the trip while the kids and Travis went to the family pool.

When we got back to our room, this is what we found:

(I had flashbacks to our honeymoon and seeing these fun towel displays) The kids thought it was so neat!

We had dinner reservations at the hibachi place (Ayami), and we sat next to a sweet family from Chattanooga. They had four young girls!

I chose sushi as my app, and it was so good. The chef provided wonderful entertainment while cooking our meal.

Then, we hit up the theater for the entertainment. The performers sang and danced to American songs through the decades. We enjoyed it…especially Hadley!

Well, that’s the first part of our trip! We really did have a great time, and with each day, we settled in and relaxed a bit more. We also became acclimated about where things were, restaurant options, reservations and more.

Thanks for hanging with me for all the pictures and details. I never know what others may want to know…plus, I want to remember what we did.

Part 2 will be all about Isla Mujeres. It was such an amazing experience.

See you back here tomorrow!

17 thoughts on “Mexico Recap: Part 1

  1. Was this through Vacation Express? When I went to Cancun I loved the direct and chartered flight. We played trivia on the plane and won drinks! So fun! Hayden looks 16 in the photo with the champagne flute drink! So sorry about Hadley, but glad it was so short lived because that could have gone sideways! So, 5th Avenue is part of their resort? That is cool! Also, genius to join Facebook groups! It just looks amazing and I can’t wait to hear about Isla Mujeres!
    Oh, and during the influencers stuff on IG yesterday I learned there are compression packing cubes! I challenge you to use those and carry on only next time! I am going to buy those! Genius!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we flew vacation express there but something else back home. I know! So grown. I think hadley had a touch of food poisoning from dinner (in Lexington) the night before. 5th Ave was straight out from the lobby. There were rooms above but below was restaurants and shops. I need to look into the compression packing cubes. Yesterday, someone shared the ones that hang…kind of like the tip from babs


      1. Ah, ok! I have been looking at the Vacation Express website and really didn’t know it was still around until my friend Mary said that’s how she travels all the time.
        Ohhh – that’s cool – dividers and it compresses.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad Hadley was feeling better for your first full day! It’s terrible traveling and being sick while you’re away from home. All your pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It looks like such a nice vacation! The advice about joining fb groups for the resorts is brilliant. I’ll have to keep that in mind if we ever decide to do a similar trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Poor Hadley! I’m happy she was feeling better quickly. There’s nothing worse than being sick on a vacation you’ve been looking forward to for so long!


  5. OH wow that sounds amazing! So glad your daughter was feeling so much better so quickly and that no one else came down with anything. Being sick on vacation (especially on a travel day!) is the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

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