It’s a consensus: my family and I agreed the Melia Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda was one of the best hotel experiences we have ever had. Everything about this luxury resort oozed elegance and class, which scored big points with the parents. For the kids, all of the special touches aimed at the younger crowd, including a cotton candy machine, a pirate ship waterslide at the pool, and especially the personalized nightly turn down service by the Family Concierge, made them feel like this holiday was all about them. It was very evident that not only are children welcome here, they are celebrated. My kids felt it from the moment we arrived.
While the adults handled the boring details during check-in, my normally antsy kids kicked back with glasses of icy chocolate milk while colouring at a special kids-only table. They were given woven bracelets to indicate that they were guests instead of the usual ubiquitous shiny plastic bands. Nice touch!
We took advantage of the Family Concierge service offered at the Paradisus, which was likely the tipping point that set this vacation apart from all the others. The service can be booked as part of a package with Canadian tour operators or you can upgrade your package directly with the hotel.
If you enjoy a little extra TLC, and the option of having someone unpack your luggage, make dinner reservations for you or arrange a private cabana next to the pool in the morning (just to name a few) sounds like something you might appreciate, the concierge service is a lovely add-on to this already fabulous resort. Some of the other goodies included in the Family Concierge program are a separate family swimming pool area complete with that cotton candy maker as well as a popcorn maker, in-room Xbox and Playstation (a highlight for our 7 year old) consoles, mini bathrobes and slippers, kid-friendly bathroom amenities, personal concierge service, plus much more.
Weeks later, my kids are still talking about the “hotel with cookies at night.” Every evening, they would rush to the room after dinner to find what surprise was waiting. One night it was chocolate covered strawberries, another time fun-shaped cookies awaited them, but each night included a brand-new treat such as crafts and colouring books that totally delighted them. Their favourite surprise was discovering the outdoor tub filled to overflowing with bubbles and balloons. My daughter squealed with delight and held up a half-moon shaped balloon to her mouth saying “Mommy, look how happy I am. See my big smile?”
I think that pretty much sums up how both my children felt about their stay at this amazing hotel.
With nine a la carte restaurants, plus a couple of buffet restaurants at the Melia Paradisus, there is no risk of getting bored with the resort food. Our kids are pretty adventurous eaters and will normally split a dish from the regular menu or pick off our plates, but all the restaurants offer a children’s menu option with kid-friendly features. My son enthusiastically tried fried grasshoppers at Mole, the authentic Mexican restaurant on site, which I’m sure he enjoyed mostly because of my squealing at his willingness to eat insects for dinner. My husband and I enjoyed a quiet date evening at Vento, where we sampled Mediterranean tapas while kids hung out in the Kids Club. The contemporary feel of the restaurant made it one of our favourite dining experiences. However if you ask my kids which restaurant they enjoyed the most, without missing a beat they would say the knife-flinging, fire-throwing, Hibachi-style meal at Japanese restaurant Bana.
When planning a trip, the first thing I look at is the hotel kid’s club.. I value our family time together on our holiday, but those monkeys wear me out! They also love meeting and playing with other kids, as well as embarking on adventures with energetic staff after they’ve left mom and dad laying on their duvet, in exhausted heaps. Most kid’s clubs in Mexico are for children ages 4 and up, however the Melia properties are one of the few that provide childcare for children as young as 1 year old, offering both a Kids Club (5 and up) and the Baby Club (1-4). This trip was my daughter’s first club experience and I was a little nervous that she might be too shy being apart from her family in an unfamiliar place, but she quickly settled in with the friendly staff and promptly forgot we existed. The great thing about this particular club is that the older children in the Baby Club are included with the Kids Club for many activities, so our daughter was able to enjoy some of the activities with her 7 year old brother. The older kids get to venture out on activities around the property but when everyone is inside the club, all the kids play together.
A Few of our Favourite Things
It’s really hard to pinpoint just one favourite thing about our visit to the Melia Paradisus. So many elements work together to make it an overall incredible experience for the whole family. The pools were amazing, the beach was fabulous, the food and the rooms were all top notch. However, we did manage to pick a few things that really resonated with each of us.
Mom’s Favourite Things:
The YHI Spa experience. It may sound like an obvious choice, but I almost always enjoy a spa visit (or two) when I’m on vacation and over the years I’ve learned that not all spas are created equal. The YHI Spa is 20,000 square foot of pure stress relief. I had the most relaxing massage of my life and afterwards enjoyed the outdoor thermal circuit complete with waterfalls, plunge pools and mineral baths.
I also loved the oversized balcony off our room with a full set of lounge seating. It was such a treat to order room service and sit outside in our jammies enjoying the delicious food while sipping cappuccinos in the Mexican sunshine.
Dad’s Favourite Things:
My husband loved the beach at the hotel. The ocean was stunning and we could not get over how soft the sand was. Because we were experiencing the calm after the previous week’s storm (fortunate timing for us), the ocean outside the hotel was as flat as glass. It was like swimming in a pool, except this one had gorgeous fish swirling around us.
Our 7 Year Old Son’s Favourite Things:
There were four big pools at the resort including including two activity pools for the kids. In addition to a pirate ship waterslide for younger kids at one pool, the other activity pool had a huge inflatable obstacle course. My son was awake at the crack of dawn to get the chance to challenge the obstacle course in true Wipeout style (if you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about). It was pretty darn cute watching him as he leaped, jumped, weaved and dove.
While he loves to burn off steam, my son also needs his downtime and when he was exhausted from the day, waterlogged from the pool and just did not want to socialize with anyone, he loved chilling on the couch and playing NBA basketball on the Xbox in our room. You never fully appreciate the significance of having video game consoles in your hotel room until you travel with your 7 year old gamer.
Our 3 Year Old Daughter’s Favourite Things:
Our daughter loved the Family Concierge turn-down service. Every evening after dinner, she knew she would find something special in our room that just for her. She loved the little treats in the shape of animals, the little squiggles of chocolate adorning strawberries, the activity colour packs and especially that balloon bubble bath. They are all simple gestures, but meant the world to her.
To our delight, she also loved the Kid’s Club. We may have occasionally used it as a bribe to motivate her: “Get dressed and you can go to the Kid’s Club.” “Eat the rest of your veggies and then we’ll take you to the Kid’s Club.” She loved making the crafts and was eager to go every day.
At the end of our trip, everyone felt as though their wishes for the ultimate family vacation had been fulfilled. Mom and dad were relaxed and pampered, the kids had made new friends and had lots of adventures and experiences that were just for them. It’s rare to find one spot that can appeal to the diverse interests and needs of an entire family, but the Paradisus did just that. The only request they couldn’t accommodate was the one I made to relocate their masseuse to Canada, preferably a few blocks from home. But given the amazing memories we left with, I suppose I can let that one slide.
Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda Contact Info:
A big thanks to the Melia Paradisus La Esmeralda for hosting our family during our Mayan Riviera holiday!
For great ideas of family fun things to see and do in the Mayan Riviera, be sure to visit www.RivieraMaya.com.