Educational Trip to Mexico!

Lisa Brady on 19 June 2018
In June 2018 I was extremely fortunate to win a trip to explore Mexico. The itinerary we received sounded fabulous, including 4 hotels, excursions, site visits and our favourite statement - time at leisure!

Our flights from Manchester with Thomas Cook were upgraded so we could experience their Premium Class product. Premium seats with extra space, adjustable head rest, upgraded in-flight entertainment, premium meals, complimentary drinks, increased luggage allowance and a faster check in process. In comparison to the return journey in economy I would wholeheartedly recommended this as an upgrade!

Our first hotel stay was the Dreams Riviera Maya, a fab location only 30 minutes transfer from Cancun Airport and situated on a beautiful white sandy beach.

Dreams is a modern, family friendly resort with great rooms which are mostly all sea views. We were upgraded to Club Rooms which are all ocean view and upgrades to private plunge pool rooms are also available. This is a lively resort with lots happening, great for families of all ages. We witnessed a wedding in resort which was extremely well organised and in a lovely location with views out to the Caribbean Sea. The resort is all-inclusive with a well-stocked mini bar, speciality dining options and premium drinks all included.

Next stop was Occidental Xcarat. Now owned by the Barceló group all 765 rooms have been refurbished to a very high standard. This was the largest resort we visited and as an added bonus is located a short walk away from the Xcarat Eco Park. The hotel has 7 swimming pools (foam party every Saturday), 11 restaurants and 10 bars. For those looking for a little more luxury I would recommend an upgrade to Royal Level. Wi-Fi is free for Royal guests, the service more personal and there are dedicated areas including a lovely seafront restaurant. The area around the hotel is lush, you really feel like you're in the jungle with spider monkeys, iguanas, flamingos and wildlife everywhere - along with mosquitos so be prepared with sprays etc. Head to the beachfront cove for breakfast with a spectacular view.

Before we had too much time to settle we were off to our next hotel - Secrets Akumal (Akumal translates to place of the turtle). This is an adult only resort in the heart of Riviera Maya on one of the most famous beaches in Mexico.

This is a spectacular hotel! The design of every element of this hotel is outstanding, from the reception area to the room décor, the incredible spa to the choices of pools - a personal favourite was the beach front cocktail bar with swinging seats! We dined at the El Patio for authentic Mexican cuisine - try the flaming Mexican coffee! Market Café and Oceana Seafood restaurant have the best coconut shrimp I have ever tasted!

We had time to swim with turtles in the ocean and spent the morning exploring the Mayan Ruins at Tulum. Our guide was fab and turned this experience into a real highlight! A great hotel for a romantic break, or to escape from children. I will be back!

Our final stop was Grand Velas Riviera Maya. The saying 'keep the best until last', could certainly be true about this hotel. Described as beyond all-inclusive and with an upgrade to a Grand Class suite I could not wait to explore. The Grand Class Suites are adult only, they are huge, with Caribbean Sea views and your own private plunge pool - we were shown to our suite by our concierge who was available 24hours for anything we might need. All of the Grand Velas Staff were attentive and the food here is exceptional with 7 a la carte restaurants and the most incredible buffet restaurant imaginable.

For families this hotel has the best children's facilities I have experienced. The family rooms (2-bedroom family suite) has a baby concierge, strollers, baby carriers, bottle warmers, cribs etc. The kid’s clubs are outstanding, the staff will even take your children for dinner, so you can enjoy a peaceful meal or perhaps rooms service.

Amongst lots of other treats we were invited on an Eco Walk, where we were blessed by a Mayan Priest/Shaman, took a mixology class, made some energy bites and as an extra special treat participated in the water ceremony in their spa - winner of the World Luxury Spa Award 2017.

For facilities, location and for food fans I don't think you could find a finer hotel. Named one of the finest all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, it's not just me who thinks that - Grand Velas has a serious trophy cabinet of awards!

After 7 days of luxury and fun times with a great group of Travel Counsellors it was time to head home. Mexico is a fabulous year-round destination, busiest in the winter with an incredible history, culture beautiful beaches, people and food. I can't wait to return, can you?