Ixtapa – Mango Paradise
When we decided to go on a family vacation, my only real requirement was that I not have to cook. The whole time. I also didn’t want to have to change hotels every night, schlepping kids’ stuff all over everywhere. This eliminated any kind of camping, road trip, or the like. We settled on Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico. We plunked down a bunch of money in April. Then I spent the next 3 months planning (i.e., worrying about) exactly what to bring on the airplane (to keep two kids happy for 12 hours of travel time) and what to wear in 90 degree (80% humidity) weather.
Thankfully, all that worrying paid off. Our kids were happily entertained on the airplane (or asleep) both directions. And I wore everything in my suitcase at least once and didn’t wish I had more (or less).
We left SFO for Ixtapa on Monday, July 5. After a smooth day of travel, we landed in the heat of Ixtapa, greeted by cold lemonade and smiles from the staffers. Our room was fantastic – a ground floor room in the Iguana building – separated into 3 sections: 1 end for kids, the middle for bath/shower/sink, and the other end for Dave and me. A small porch provided invaluable clothes-drying space (except for that one night, when it rained….I mean poured… on our clothes that were hung out to “dry”).
The Iguana building was aptly named – a large herd of Iguanas lived right outside. In the heat of the day, they’d sit and stare you down as you walked along the path. We called it the Iguanapalooza. Kevin tried to catch one, but they were faster than he was.
I always thought Mexico was void of gardeners, since they’re all here. But any left all work at Ixtapa Club Med. The grounds are impeccable. I challenge you to find a dead flower, broken branch, or weed on the grounds. Not only is the landscaping beautiful, the facilities are top notch. Guys are out scrubbing the pool decks with bleach every morning before 7. The pools are vacuumed every day. The public area bathrooms smell like sanitizer, the garbage cans are always empty, the sand is raked pretty every morning. The ashtrays are all clean and have the Club Med logo imprinted on them. I think they must have a crew that picks up all the broken seashells and driftwood from the shore in the middle of the night.
Other than sleeping, we spent every moment outside. We’d play on the beach, swim in the warm ocean, get very sandy and dirty, wash off, eat, then swim in the pool. We were in this endless loop. One pool was “just right for me” as Kevin said. It was 2’ 6” deep, so he could stand and the water came up to his neck. He hopped around on his own, made friends with girls, borrowed boogie boards and water guns, and generally had a ball. Ryan enjoyed swimming too. He sat on the steps and splashed around, flirting with the older women. Dave and I visited the small gym a few times during our stay. I read something on my Kindle while on the elliptical trainer. Not a bad workout, considering the view of the ocean.
The family resorts of Club Med have all-you-can-eat babysitting. The kids “clubs” as they’re called, take children of all ages (over 6 months) and have a range of activities for them to do anytime of the day. Our friends that had gone before and the Ixtapa staff all encouraged us to take advantage of the clubs. We did and we didn’t. Ryan spent a lot of time in the “Baby Club” – for kids from 6 months to 2 years. They had several large rooms with padded floors and walls and age-appropriate toys; dark rooms with dozens of cribs, etc. It was perfect for him. He was likely much happier in the air-conditioned center, with lots of female attention than he would have been with us on the beach. When we took Ryan to the beach, he usually had eaten a handful of sand within 5 minutes and was miserable. The Baby Club staff fell in love with Ryan – they all called him his favorite and he lit up like a light bulb at their attention. We didn’t put Kevin in the kids club. He was really quite happy playing in the sand and swimming with us, and we liked it too. He was a happy-go-lucky kid, really fun to hang out with, and drama-free!
We spent one morning taking Kevin to “Dolfiniti” in downtown Ixtapa. Dave and Kevin donned on life vests and jumped in the water with the dolphins. Kevin gave a dolphin a big hug and a kiss and promptly forgot all about it. Of course, no cameras or video allowed, so we’ve got little to show for that adventure!
The food. Oh, the food! There was a lot of it, and it was pretty good too! The main dining room was huge – 4 large seating areas and dozens of different “stations” – ranging from Mexican food (of course) to Indian to Italian to American (i.e., fried stuff) to breads to seafood to fresh fruit to dessert. My all time favorite place was the fresh fruit section. There is nothing better than a ripe papaya, all cut up, ready to eat. I had my fill of mangoes and papayas, and then some. They had mangoes wrapped in salmon – one of the best things I’ve ever tasted! I ate shrimp-tomato-mango salad. I had fish tacos topped with mango. I had mango smoothies and mango drinks by the pool. Thankfully, Wikipedia tells me mangoes are good for me.
Aside from beach and pool, we tried our hand at the trapeze. You start with a simple routine – jump off a really high platform, swing, hang by your knees, and do a back-flip off into a net. Simple enough, right? It was quite fun. I had to go 4 more times – the adrenaline was addictive – and I have the bruises on the backs of my knees to prove it.
Only two things went wrong on this vacation. Kevin got violently sick the second night – throwing up about every 30 minutes from 1am to 7am. He bounced back pretty quickly and thank goodness for the cleaning staff. And someone stole Dave’s flip flops from outside our front door. Not bad, right? Must have been all my planning/worrying.