Sunday, October 21st, 2007 at 12:29 am in Family Travel.
Sparkling seas, hot sunshine and coconut drinks – how sublime! Last Sunday, we followed the Streshinsky family to the Big Apple and DC. This week, the Williams family weighs in on the joys of Cancun, Mexico – where to go, what to do and how to do it …
THE TREK IN A SEC: A week of beach frolic and amazing Mayan ruins. Read on for hotel, dining and sightseeing tips from this San Pablo family of five…
THE TRAVELERS: Winston Williams, finance director for San Francisco’s Tenderloin Health, Frances Renty Williams, Marin Montessori development director, their children Juliana and Jeremy, and grandmother Jessie Renty.
BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOTEL: The Best Western Cancun Clipper Club — in the heart of the hotel zone, walking distance to beaches, restaurants and great shopping. Great for families, says Frances. Their suite slept six and had a well-outfitted kitchenette, including a full-sized refrigerator, so they didn’t have to dine out all the time. The hotel also has a low-cost Laundromat – and the grounds included a very large pool, a kiddy pool, playground and trampoline — all very popular with Juliana, age 6, and Jeremy, 4. The Williamses have a time share, but the Clipper Club also takes hotel reservations.
** The Mayan Ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza — “Both are must sees,” says Frances. “Bring your camera. A lot of walking involved (so) with small children, don’t forget your stroller.”
** Flea Markets — These colorful markets abound in the hotel district, and boast some great buys. “Don’t buy from the first vendor you see,” says Frances. “There are great deals to be had if you look around and take your time.”
** Pools and Beaches — The main reason to visit Cancun, the Williams family says: “Just pull out your favorite book and sit by the pool or beach, or swim in the warm Caribbean waters.”
MOST MEMORABLE FOOD: The 6-star, all-inclusive Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa. The Williams family purchased a day pass ($50 for adults and $25 for children, available at the front desk). “You can use everything at the hotel and not open your wallet ever again,” says Frances. “All of your food, drink, children’s activities is covered in your pass. Everyone loved the level of ‘star’ treatment. Food and drinks were brought to you while on the beach. This is a ‘must go.’”
Other dining possibilities near the hotel zone include the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a short bus ride away on Flamingo Boardwalk Blvd. The booths were big enough for six, and the portions were so big, they took leftovers back to that hotel refrigerator to snack on later. Also good: the Argentinian Big Steak House, a short walk away in the Forum by the Sea Mall.
1. When you get to the hotel, have one parent settle in with the kids, while the other shops for supplies. Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Costco are a cab or bus ride away from Cancun’s hotel district, and it’s nice to have some familiar foods and plenty of bottled water (yes, even in Cancun) back at the hotel. Wal-Mart has the best rate for exchanging money, says Frances, and Cancun’s Costco has free Internet service.
2. Pools and beaches don’t always have lifeguards. Bring your own life preservers from home or buy them at Wal-Mart.
3. Pack a travel-sized emergency kit that includes copies of medical records and doctor information.
4. Even the youngest child needs a passport to travel to Mexico. Start that process early.
5. Give each child his own travel backpack, says Frances, filled with favorite things — a stuffed animal, coloring books, word searches with lots of colored pencils (crayons melt in hot weather!). Surprise them with brand new books for the trip, says Frances, plus bring tons of reading books. Airport waits are much less dull when you’ve got a good book.
6. Other air travel survival tactics: Plan your airplane travel around naptime. “A sleeping child,” says Frances, “is a quiet and happy child.” The Williams family also packed Mack’s ear plugs (available at Wal-Mart) to combat air pressure-related ear problems.
Has your family been somewhere wonderful? Share your photos, favorite hotels and outings, and travel tips by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.