We spent a four-day weekend in early November (school holiday) at the Crowne Paradise Resort in Cancun. This was our first experience at an all-inclusive resort, and I must say we loved the certainty of knowing how much the trip would cost, especially right before the holidays when we don’t really want to be spending a lot of extra money. The only money we spent aside from the airfare and hotel was parking at our home airport, cab rides to and from the resort, and a few miscellaneous tips. We paid for the airfare and resort using a combination of United miles and American Express Membership Rewards points, so our actual out-of-pocket expenses totaled under $300. Not bad for a four day/three night stay at a beautiful resort!
I was attracted to the resort by the many room options for families of five or more. We selected a family suite, which consisted of one bathroom, a large bedroom with a king-sized bed, and a bunk bed with trundle set up behind a partition for the kids. The room had two televisions, and a very nice balcony that overlooked the pool and ocean.
There were larger family suite options available, including one on two levels, but this option suited us just fine. We were so exhausted each night from spending our days in the sun that we were all ready for bed by 9:00 each night! The fact that there were minimal English channels on television might have helped our early-to-bed, early-to-rise lifestyle on the trip.
Breakfast and Lunch in the Pavilion
Each day we were up by 6:30 am. Breakfast was served from 7:00 to 11:00 in a nice indoor/outdoor area right near the pool, and we were usually arriving right at opening. Breakfast was a large buffet with many different options, but hands down our favorite were the yummy chocolate croissants. Omelets, waffles, fresh fruit, cereals, and traditional Mexican items were also in abundance. Son3 declared the breakfast buffet the best part of the trip!
All of the rooms are centered around the recreation areas, which consisted of a mini golf course, an infinity pool overlooking the beach, a separate smaller pool, a baby pool, a “water park” consisting of two waterslides, a rock climbing wall, a zip line, a volleyball court, and a small soccer area.
We quickly got into a routine here. We would spend the morning at the water park. The zip line and rock climbing were only available from 9:00 to 11:00 each day, and you had to be dry and dressed, so the boys would do that right away (make sure your kids bring sneakers if they want to do this!). Then they would move on to the waterslides, and when they tired of that they played some soccer. Balls were available for check-out. One day a member of the recreation staff organized a game of dodge ball, which the kids all seemed to love.
The lunch buffet opened at 12:30 and was open until 5:00 so you could go back in for snacks throughout the day. Options included an Asian stir-fry station, a deli, a grill, pizza, a pasta station, a Mexican station, a salad bar, and various other options that changed daily such as roast beef, chicken, and fish. There are many dessert options, including several flavors of ice cream. A very nice and helpful wait staff was constantly moving around clearly plates, helping get drinks, etc.
After lunch, we moved on to the beach. The kids could not get over how clear and blue the water was. They literally spent hours riding the waves. My 8-year old could go out far enough to catch some good waves, but still safely be able to stand. My kids are excellent swimmers so we didn’t feel like we had to be in the water with them the whole time, but we made them stay together and we watched them from our cabana on the beach. The lifeguards also did a good job of not letting anyone get out too far. With such perfect conditions, my kids are permanently ruined for our annual trips to the North Carolina beaches.
The cabanas were a very nice touch on the beach, providing welcome shade. There were also showers at the bottom of the steps going up to the pool/room area, so it was easy to clean off the sand.
The resort has five different restaurant options for dinner. Mexican, Italian, Steak, Seafood, and an adults-only French restaurant. Reservations are required, which you can make one day ahead of time. We picked Seafood for our first night, Steak for our second, and Mexican for our final night, which ended up being our favorite. The steak place is called Wayne’s Boots, and has a mechanical bull inside. The kids were disappointed that only adults could try the bull, but had a good time watching. My kids are adventurous eaters, and really enjoyed the fact that they were not limited to ordering from the kids’ menu. They loved that they could get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert each night! We found the wait staff in all of the restaurants to be very friendly and attentive. My 12-year old is taking Spanish at school, and our waiters were very patient with him as he tried out some of his new language skills.
There was entertainment each evening, but mini golf was about all we could handle before we were ready for bed, so we never saw any of it.
On our final day, we had to be checked out by 12:00, but we were able to store our luggage, get some lunch, and have a little bit of beach time until we had to head to the airport. The resort has a hospitality room with a nice shower and changing room, so we just kept a bag with our clothes for our trip home and were able to get ready in there.
We had planned to venture out of the resort, and possibly go see some ancient ruins, but on such a short trip we just never felt like giving up the relaxation of the resort and all it had to offer.
We “paid” for this trip using American Express Membership Rewards points. Considering this included all food, drinks, and activities for five people, it was an outstanding value and we really had a great long weekend.