We were in the back of a taxi. Noah looked up at me with his big grey-blue eyes in anticipation. We just grinned at each-other. We were on our way to the airport, going to a far-away place called Mexico, completely and utterly by ourselves.
We had traveled before, even braving a couple of long haul flights without anyone else, but this ten day holiday would be the first time we would be left entirely to our own devices.
About twenty minutes outside of the renowned party town of Cancun, is the 123 acre luxury resort, Moon Palace. The resort sits peacefully on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. When we arrived, we were personally greeted with a beautiful, fresh flower and hot towels before being shown to the check-in area (our luggage was taken off our hands and sent straight to our room).
We got a bit lost in our attempt to locate our room in the family-friendly ‘Sunrise’ area of the resort (the resort is split into three parts: Sunrise, Nizuc and Grand, the latter being exclusive to adults). Luckily, a member of staff noticed our confused faces and whipped us up into his golf buggy to take us right to our door.
Our room, spotless and airy, was full of surprises. The focal point had to be the lavish Jacuzzi bath which made for some really fun bubble baths for Noah. Other touches included chocolates (every night) on our pillows, an all inclusive mini bar (with premium spirits, soft drinks and more importantly, kids juice drinks and chocolate milk) and possibly our favourite feature, a hammock to relax on in the outdoor / balcony area (our room was on the ground floor). I also personally enjoyed the premium toiletries and the fact that hair straighteners come as standard as part of the room (Noah wasn’t so fussed about these!)
All inclusive and dining
As a single parent, the all inclusive package was an extremely appreciated feature of the holiday. As much as I love wasting valuable time trudging around trying to find reasonable quality food outlets when we’re away, having access to unlimited quality food 24 hours a day just made life so easy! There were so many options, our favourites probably being the a la carte Italian restaurant, La Gondola, and the outdoor BBQ area at the resort’s ‘Flow Rider’ surfing simulator.
A café in the Sunrise main building served as a convenient snack stop, abundant with a flurry of sweet treats. We felt like kids let loose in a candy store. This was a great place to pick up a quick bite to eat on our way to the swimming pool or on an evening before retiring to our room.
The all inclusive package extended to the 24 room service in our room. This, by far, was the most useful feature to us. Becoming stuck in a hotel room with a sleeping pre-schooler, without snacks, is like the end of the world. This could never be the case at Moon Palace. One quick call and their wish is your command; dinners, snacks, desserts… they will even come and fill your mini fridge, as I found out when I ran out of diet coke.
The list of activities and facilities at Moon Palace is extensive, for the full list take a look at their website. For this reason, I’m just going to talk about the activities that we took part in and were appropriate to us as a young family.
The majority of our days were crammed with pool activity. At Moon Palace, it feels as if there is an endless amount of swimming pools to choose from. Noah loved the children’s pool, quite content sliding down the toddler-friendly water slides over and over, like a broke record. I was content on my sun lounger (it was never hard to find an unoccupied one), sipping unlimited fruit juices and the occasional Pina Colada that the poolside service would bring me. When Noah got hungry, but did not want to leave the pool, the staff were also happy to provide simple snacks, like nachos or a hamburger. Again, this was so useful and diffused any threats of hangry toddler tantrums.
We also enjoyed a larger pool nearby that had a sloping entrance. This was great for Noah to practice his swimming and relieved me of fears of him daringly trying to jump into deep parts of the pool. Noah relished in the novelty of drinking a freshly made mock-tail in at the swim-up bar.
The resort has its own private beach which is an ideal place for us to play ball games. Further into the holiday, we decided to get some professional photos taken of us as a (not so cheap) souvenir. It was really fun running around and chasing each other on the sand.
There’s a full 18-hole golf course on the resort. Noah and I were satisfied with the mini golf course which wasn’t too far from our room.
One morning, we decided to seek out the kids’ club. When we found it, we were immediately taken aback by the awesome outside play area.
My feelings about kids’ clubs before visiting mostly veered towards the idea that I would not want to leave Noah in one. The club at Moon Palace was very impressive, with several ‘themed’ areas and a soft play. He was too young to leave on his own, but within about five minutes of playing he was demanding I go. At the time, he had spent a lot time at his nursery without me and the club had a warm, fun atmosphere so he felt comfortable very quickly. From watching the staff with kids who had been left, I could see that they were very attentive. We spent the whole morning there playing games and doing activities like pizza making. It was fantastic! I feel in the future, if we visited again, I would be happy to let him play for a couple of hours. Maybe then, I would have a chance to check out the resort’s spa and get a bit of me time.
Evenings at Moon Palace were magical. Sitting under the stars each night in the enveloping warmth of the Caribbean breeze. We both boogied on an evening at the ‘mini disco’ before settling down to watch the entertainment. I thought these shows would be really corny, but actually, they were quite impressive. Noah really liked the Michael Jackson tribute and the break-dancing show.
Despite there being so much to do onsite, the explorers in us insisted on venturing out of the resort. Guests at the Moon Palace receive resort credits (of varying amounts, depending on length of stay). They can be spent on things like spa treatments and rounds of golf on the resort, but also on a mixture of popular excursions and tours (not including tax).
Our first tour took us to the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, famed for the awe-inspiring, grand pyramid, El Castillo. Noah, to this day, recalls that if you stand in front of the pyramid and clap your hands, a bird ‘chirping’ sound can be heard, seemingly echoing from El Castillo.
Not included in our resort credits, Xcaret, a tropical eco-park about an hour away from our hotel, was our second tour. This was an excruciatingly hot day. There were so many things to do at the park, including swimming through underground rivers (we plan to go back to do this at some point) and swimming with sharks (we don’t plan to go back to do this just yet). We opted to wonder around at our leisure, exploring numerous archaeological sites (Noah loved the climbing) and enjoying the wildlife. One activity that really stood out was the ‘Paradise River’, a gentle boat ride through gorgeous rainforest fauna and flora.
It was a long day, but we were so glad we stayed for ‘Xcaret’s Mexico Espectacular‘ show. An epic experience, it portrayed the history and culture of Mexico with the use of over 300 actors, intricate costumes, displays, vibrant colours, pyrotechnics and traditional music. Our highlights were probably the display of an ancient Mayan game of ‘fireball hockey‘ and the fearlessness of the ‘flying men‘ who take part in a ritual ceremony that involves climbing a huge pole, and then, attached by rope, soaring through the air.
Another morning, we visited Dolphin Discovery to go swimming with the dolphins (included in our resort credits). This was a lovely experience to share with Noah, despite his complaints about how cold the water was.
We were disappointed to find out that the hotel no longer provides transportation to Cancun, so we forked out for a taxi to do a spot of shopping. It was worth it for the shoreline views at busy sister property, Beach Palace.
Moon Palace is on its own private road, all visitors and guests are signed in and out of the complex and the atmosphere around the resort is very relaxed. I think it’s natural to have a little anxiety traveling to a foreign country alone with a child, but I felt completely safe the whole time we were in Mexico, both on and off the resort. Around Chichen Itza, locals may attempt to sell souvenirs but there is very little pressure.
The Last Day
Noah loves to recall how, on our final day, we watched some men harvesting the coconuts from the trees outside our room. One of them kindly chopped one down for Noah and sliced the top off it so we could try the fresh coconut water inside.
A waterproof swimming pouch is very useful for keeping hold of your phone/cards and keeping your hands free to keep hold of the little one in the swimming pool.
There were only blow-up kids’ life jackets available on the resort to buy and Cancun is a very expensive taxi ride away, so best pack one beforehand.
Attractions like Xcaret only allow eco-friendly sunscreen so be prepared to purchase when you arrive at the park.
Carry plenty of water and sunscreen, especially when visiting archaeological sites like Chichen Itza where there is little shade. Don’t forget a hat!
Be prepared to haggle a bit for photos of your dolphin experience, they can be pretty expensive!
This trip was entirely self-funded and all views and opinions are our own. 🙂
Our professional photos were taken by Dream Art Photography, which you can find in the main foyer of the Sunrise building at the resort.