Travel & Outdoors | January 2009
|Mexican Resorts are Courting Families|
Deborah Abrams Kaplan - NY Daily News
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More and more of Mexico's all-inclusive resorts are catering to families with kids.
|Ileana and Sofia Ceja, two teenaged girls from Southern California, kick off our new Vallarta for Kids series and show us some kid-friendly tours that will make your family's vacation in Puerto Vallarta unforgettable!|
Many vacationers recall the Club Med of their early adulthood, exchanging beads for drinks in a bacchanalian revelry. With Mexico a mecca for U.S. tourists - Americans account for almost 90% of international arrivals, according to the Mexico Ministry of Tourism - the trend is to make resorts more family-friendly.
Which is a great thing for those of us with young kids. In the wake of 2005's Hurricane Wilma, Club Med Cancun spent $24 million updating the resort, adding on kids' and teen clubs. The beads are gone, and adults vacationing without the younger set are certainly still welcome. But the resort now also caters to those bringing children.
Traveling with kids is hard enough, which is why many families choose an all-inclusive resort for vacation. Cancun has at least 14 all-inclusives with kids' programming. And just a plane ride away are the resort towns of Los Cabos and Ixtapa, with dozens of facilities luring families with suites, baby-sitting, piñata parties, circus school, "baby welcome" programs, and round-the-clock pizza and soda. How to choose between them?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
When choosing an all-inclusive, prioritize what's most important to you, like a great kids' club and a swimmable beach (many in Cabo are plagued with a riptide). One of the best sources of information are independent guest ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor.com. Though anyone can register and leave fake comments - including resort management or its competition - if there's a critical mass of reviews, readers can be more confident of authentic opinions.
For each resort, look for thematic patterns like the kids' club quality, food, building upkeep, beach quality and staff. Also look for reviews from people traveling around the same time you would go. During busy holiday times, are there comments about the staff being overwhelmed or long lines for meals?
Rob and Stacy Hughes of Salt Lake City decided on Melia Cabo Real, on the tip of the Baja peninsula, and they booked online for a recent trip with their kids, ages 2 to 5. Stacy said they were thrilled with their vacation, and the best part was the kids' club staff.
"The advisers really seemed to like their job and the kids," said Hughes. "They went swimming, built sandcastles, played video games, painted and sang songs - our boys had so much fun."
As for downsides, others on TripAdvisor had the same complaints - the food was average and the activities and meal service often started late, like a frustrating 45-minute delay for the piñata on fiesta night.