Be sure to scroll down to see the incredible deal Southwest Vacations is offering at Amazon Local for an all-inclusive vacation from Denver to Cancún starting at just $749!
“Who do you think you are, Gwyneth Paltrow?”
–My friend Kristy’s response to my family’s 3-night getaway to Cancún with Southwest Vacations®.
I can assure you that Gwynnie and I have very little in common unless that means hopping on a flight for a quick, luxurious trip I barely had to plan. The catch: It was all at a fraction of her costs.
What Southwest Vacations Does
Direct flights from Denver to Cancun
When Southwest Vacations first contacted me about taking a quick trip to Cancún, I was surprised to learn that Mexico and the Caribbean are Southwest Vacations’ second most popular destinations, with Denver as one of the airline’s top departure cities. Because of this, Southwest recently introduced direct flights from the Mile High City to Cancún.
As an avid traveler, I’m acclimated to spending hours researching my destinations and following up on my reservations (a headache when traveling to a foreign country). Not only was I assured Southwest Airline’s® infamous low-cost flights but I was able to easily book my direct flight from Denver, ground transportation and excursions at southwestvacations.com with just a few clicks. Note: Their other popular vacation destinations include Las Vegas, Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Florida, Phoenix, New Orleans and California.
My husband and I had been to Cancun only once on a brief cruise stop and were underwhelmed as we battled the frantic crowds along the hotel strip. Since we’re not the partying types (10:30 p.m. bedtime, anyone?) we couldn’t figure out why families would enjoy this popular resort area on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula.
Oh, how wrong we were.
The Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
Our direct flight from Denver to Cancún International Airport went smoothly and we were promptly rescued from the chaotic airport by a Lomas Travel employee who delivered us to the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, a short drive from the airport but seemingly worlds away (40 minutes) from Cancún’s populous hotel zone. We were presented flowers, cool washcloths and devoured a spread of snacks in the lobby, while singing, “I think I’m gonna like it here.”
And what’s not to like? Moon Palace is a sprawling all-inclusive resort, boasting 2,446 luxurious marble décor rooms and private balconies with three distinctive sections. We stayed at the more secluded and quiet Grand section, the expansive Sunrise is replete with activities and pools while the Nizuc section has exclusive concierge service with shuttles connecting them all.
The Moon Palace has a staggering amount of family activities and their seven outdoor pools are among the largest lagoon-style pools in Mexico. We tested our surfing skills on the Flowrider (think: public hilarity/humiliation), played beach volleyball, built pristine white sand castles and glided through the Caribbean waters in kayaks to watch the on-site Dolphin Discovery program.
One morning, we biked around the property’s 55 acres of lush tropical foliage. Moon Palace implements a wildlife monitoring system that has classified 29 reptile species, 112 bird species and 15 mammal species that live and breed in the resort’s natural areas. We were ecstatic when we spotted a white-nosed coati lurking in the jungle and my daughter almost ran over an iguana (chalk those up to things that never happen in Colorado.)
We fine dined in a sampling of the 13 restaurants that boasted delicious Mexican, Asian, Caribbean, Brazilian or Italian cuisine. We became virgin Miami Vice addicts (the drink, not the tacky 1980s show) and downed about 20,000 calories worth of the mini cheesecakes at the Sweets and Coffee (but who’s counting, we didn’t!)
Even the expansive breakfast buffet at Arrecofes was a favorite as my daughter lovingly beckoned “we’re baaack” every morning. My children’s “life-changing” discovery was sweetened condensed milk as a topping over their pancakes and waffles. Mine was Red Chilaquiles (a medley of tortilla chips, spicy red chile sauce, cotija cheese, onions and sour cream) and the guava, manzana, papaya, cactus pear and star fruit were bursting with flavor.
While at the resort, we spent every moment together but my kids were counting down the years until they’d be old enough for the state-of-the-art Wired Teens Lounge. That is, until we stumbled upon the Playroom, a veritable kid’s wonderland geared to potty-trained kids up to age 12.
From various game rooms, an American Ninja-warrior-style play area, outdoor playground, mini-spa, fashion runway to practice the catwalk, a movie theater, arcade, toddler area, Xbox room…the Playroom had it all. For once in their lives, the kids were begging for us to ditch them and we were frustrated we didn’t have enough time before our flight home for them to be ditched.
The Beach Excursion
Booking our direct flight, ground transportation to and from the airport and our hotel was simple on SouthwestVacations.com. Tougher was narrowing down their excursions because Cancún has a plethora of options such as these:
Camel Safari & Reef Snorkeling Adventure * Selvatica Extreme Canopy Adventure * Chichen Itza Plus Cancun * Xcaret eco-archaeological park full-day tour of ruins and activities * Xel-Ha All Inclusive Eco-Aquatic Park Tour (the Zip Bike looks amazing) *Swim with the Dolphins at Wet ‘N Wild.
We ultimately decided since we were only in Cancun three days, less was more and we would spend as much time in the sand and surf as possible with the Snorkeling Tour and Lunch. We met our transport at the Moon Palace and cruised down the coast on a saltwater breeze to Playa Maroma in the Riviera Maya, just 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen.
Following a brief introduction from our snorkeling guide, we boarded our catamaran, were fitted with snorkeling gear and sailed away on waters so blue they can’t be found on any color chart. My cerulean reverie was interrupted by my daughter.
“Mom, you look like a dork,” referring to my snorkeling mask, to which I responded to her mirror image as “the pot calling the kettle a dork.”
There was nothing geeky about our two different stops at reefs teaming with marine life. Though the coral wasn’t overly colorful, the iridescent schools of fish were. We squealed as we swam through a jelly fish field, feeling tiny pin-pricks on our skin, and lazily floated above the reef to the slow-motion balletic pulse of the water.
When we weren’t snorkeling, we were diving off the back of the boat, and munching on chips and water provided by the friendly staff. Once back on shore, an open-air buffet lunch was included in our incursion where we were serenaded by a mariachi band (Bode brought down the house with the very Mexican “Chicken Dance”).
We spent our final hour frolicking on Maroma Beach’s wide open transparent water, convinced we had landed in a world of movie-set perfection.
A Lesson in Stress-free Vacationing
Traveling with kids is often stressful but with Southwest Vacations, the devil was in the details as they took care of the major minutiae. Our direct flights to and from Denver were seamless. Our airport transfers were smooth and Lomas Travel called our room 24 hours before departure to confirm our pick-up time. The snorkeling excursion and transfers went off without a hitch, and when staying at top-rated all-inclusive Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort we never have to worry about our next meal or activity.
As much as I love adventure, I also enjoy solitude and I was surprised to still find it even at a popular resort. In the evenings, we hit the abandoned beach after dinner, playing tag in the waves and discovering treasures in the sand. One night, the full moon burned down and Cancún glistened with silver lights like a galaxy of fallen stars.
Hadley looked at the horizon, that long line that cuts the world in two, and flung some sand toward it.
“Did you see that?” she squealed as she launched another handful. When it hit the dark ocean, the moon’s reflection lit up each grain of sand like a bioluminescent bay, a befitting touch of lunar magic in the hauntingly beautiful Moon Palace.
Do you want in?
Southwest Vacations has launched a deal for Denver residents on Amazon Local now through March 3, 2015. They are offering a three night all-inclusive vacation from Denver starting at $749 (or five nights starting at $999). This picture-perfect vacation to Cancún will include airfaire and an all-inclusive stay at Hotel Riu Palace Las Americas with all meals and beverages included.
Soak up the sun while you lounge on white, sandy beaches, or explore the sea on a catamaran. There’s no shortage of activities on-site, from beach volleyball and table tennis to live entertainment.
Be sure to go to Amazon Local to take advantage of this incredible deal and thanks to Southwest Vacations for partnering with us on this promotion!
Do you want more details on our amazing trip to Cancun? Rest assured, there went plenty of adventures (and misadventures) along the way!
Southwest Vacations: When Getting There is Half the Fun (Cancun Day 1)
Southwest Vacations: The Flowrider’s Hilarity and Beach Bumming (Cancun Day 2)
Southwest Vacations: A Snorkeling Adventure Within a Misadventure (Cancun Day 3)
Southwest Vacations: An iguana bike ride, a too-late discovery and farewell (Cancun Day 4)