Disclaimer: This trip was completed in February 2018.
I am part of a group of eleven women. We hang out often, our kids have grown up together, we have seen each other through good times and bad. A wide age range of nearly ten years separates the oldest and the youngest. Some have kids in graduate school while others have children in elementary. Our diversity adds to the tight-knit nature of our group. And thus it was, in 2017, we planned a girls’ weekend getaway, never thinking that it would actually materialize.
As luck would have it, we found a good deal through cheapcaribbean.com. We knew Cancun was an ideal location, one plane ride away from DFW. Get to a resort and park yourself by the beach – the best place for a girls’ getaway. The rep at CheapCaribbean offered us an all-inclusive package at the Now Sapphire resort in the Riviera Cancun. It included roundtrip airfare from DFW to Cancun, as well as transportation to the hotel and back.
Ten of us signed up for the trip, each with the hope of getting on the plane but many with uncertainty looming in the background. A sick child, an uncooperative boss, a demanding work schedule, so many things could go wrong at the last minute.
On a cool Thursday evening in February 2018, ten of us showed up at the DFW airport. The excitement was palpable, the disbelief apparent, ten had signed up and all ten showed up. We never thought it possible, but there we were, giggling like teenagers, laughing, talking, and awaiting an adventure.
As promised, a 14 seater van picked us up and we reached the resort close to midnight. The night clerk greeted us warmly. Then things took a nosedive. For some reason, despite booking as a party of ten, the system did not recognize us all as being together. So eight of us were assigned rooms on the resort grounds and two were asked to stay overnight at a sister resort. Our rooms for the night were located far away from each other. And the following day, we would have to be reassigned to a different set of rooms.
This reception dampened our enthusiasm. But we stood our ground and refused to split up the group, even for a night. The clerk repeatedly told us there were no extra rooms available. Although scattered across the resort, eventually all of us found rooms for the night. A few of us even managed to explore the grounds a bit, before calling it a day.
The following morning, we met for breakfast at the Market Cafe. I really liked the way this cafe was set up. With its large glass windows overlooking the beach, the place was well lit and airy at all times. The centralized buffet made it easy to manage traffic and avoid long wait times. The oatmeal that we had almost every morning was one the creamiest and best I’ve ever tasted. After a sumptuous breakfast, we first headed to the reception desk to settle matters with the staff.
We met with the manager and expressed our deep disappointment at the poorly managed room allocation. After further discussions, he agreed to allow us full and free use of one of their beachside cabanas for both days of our stay, an upgrade that we hadn’t wanted to pay for. He also allowed us access to the spa and to the relaxing steam treatment, also an upgrade that we normally wouldn’t have paid for. Although we weren’t assigned rooms in the same building as would have been preferable, we were at least in neighboring buildings.
Satisfied with these arrangements, we changed rooms and then got down to the serious business of having fun! We had a waiter assigned to our cabana and we spent all morning watching the clouds, sipping on drinks, munching on snacks, and talking away to glory. Lunch we managed at the taco stand by the pool. That afternoon found some of us at the spa, trying out the sauna, the steam bath, and other ultra-relaxing water treatments.
That evening, we tried to have dinner at the Mexican kitchen but there was some confusion with the manager. He wouldn’t allow us entry unless all ten of us were present at the same time. A difficult feat since everyone was having fun at different places and not all of us had texting capabilities. Eventually, everyone showed up but the staff refused admission saying they were fully booked. It was the one experience that left a foul taste in the mouth. So we moved onto Cibu, the Mediterranean restaurant where we had a pleasant dinner. The Coco Cafe was one of the big hits as we often stopped there for pastries and coffee, at all times of the day.
The beach itself was fun to walk along. The weather was gorgeous but the water’s edge was lined with weed and to me personally, not very inviting. But I was happy to lay on the chaise lounge outside the cabana and watch the world go by. In the central pool area, there were music and group activities including exercise classes, dancing, etc. Even though the resort wasn’t very large, it was designed in such a way that we hardly encountered much crowd at all. And given that our cabana faced away from the resort towards the beach meant we had a big swath of the beach to ourselves.
We spent mornings enjoying daybreaks, doing Yoga, walking on the beach, and just enjoying a day without the pressures of a workday or family. We spent time coordinating outfits and taking a gazillion photos. We used the beach watchtower, the nearby retaining wall, the waves, the weeds, our feet-just about anything fun we could find as a prop for our photos. I think there are many all-time favorite photos amongst these.
The second afternoon we enjoyed a fine lunch at the Bluewater Grill, probably the best ambiance of all the restaurants we visited! But then I have always loved open spaces and avian visitors at lunch!!
On the second evening, we had a reservation for a Teppanyaki style cooking at the Lemongrass restaurant. We were 12 in all at a rectangular table, the ten of us and a couple from the Midwest. This was a truly fun experience watching the meal being cooked fresh as we chatted and sipped our way through the cooking.
After dinner, we attended the Karaoke night that was in session. After watching many others try their luck at singing, we found the courage to sign up. Next thing we knew, we were on stage, belting out a heartfelt rendition of Celine Dion’s, “My heart will go on” from the Titanic. It was a good thing Celine wasn’t around to hear us sing!!
Once outside, we made our way to the market place where we browsed for a bit before hitting the night club. There wasn’t as big a crowd here, so some of us enjoyed dancing for a while before moving on to the large open atrium. It was time to chill out, gossip and do all the girly things we normally had no time to do. It was fabulously relaxing to just be in the moment and let our hair down, for a change!
On the last day of our trip, we ate breakfast and lunch at the Market Cafe, took more photos and then left for the airport. It had been a wonderfully relaxing trip. We all had laughed our heads off, lost a few years off our face, and gained a spring in our step. Unfortunately, we must have been jinxed by our own happiness for that evening, our flight back to DFW was suddenly canceled. We were left scrambling to find seats on the next flight out, which wasn’t until the following day. After many anxious moments, we were all rebooked on a variety of flights with varying departures, connections, and landing times. Luckily for us, everyone had someone from the group to travel with.
American Airlines then shuttled us out to a different resort on the Riviera for the night’s stay. The mood in the group turned somber. All of us were forced to take an extra day off work, some had recalcitrant bosses to deal with, others had worried husbands and children to comfort. It was with a heavy heart that we sat down to dinner that evening.
Later that night, a couple of our friends were able to rebook on a direct flight for the next morning. Heartened by this news, we got on the phone and in touch with an excellent customer service rep from American Airlines. We explained the situation and he diligently tracked down six more seats for the rest of us. He had to cancel each of us and rebook onto the new one. In addition, he was able to seat us all together and smoothed the way for the group to return home at the same time.
All’s well that ends well. We left DFW as a group of ten and despite the flight delays and cancelations, we managed to return to DFW as a group of ten. I am not certain we’ll ever travel again as such a large group. But the fun and frolic we had that one weekend in the sun was pure magic!!