I was lucky to be able to spend a week in Mexico with my wife, Sandy, and daughter, Sarah this past August. We stayed at two separate resorts, the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun and the Playacar Palace. On top of that, Tropical Storm Franklin came rolling through to keep us on our toes.
We had a direct flight to Cancun from Milwaukee. One of the main pillars that Blue Sea Vacations agents stand on is always trying to find direct flights for our clients. Driving from Madison on a Saturday morning, it only took us 65 minutes from our house to the airport. We made some good time!
The flight was smooth, and before we knew it, we were touching down in Mexico. Getting through immigration and customs was surprisingly easy. I've been to Mexico three times in the past. Typically it can be a bear to get through everything. But we had our luggage and met our transfer within 30 minutes of arriving.
**One thing to note when going through the Cancun Airport is that to get to all your transfers, you need to go through an area with timeshare salespeople and taxi drivers trying desperately to get your attention. I always tell my clients to keep going. Even if they see someone with their resort's logo - they aren't your ride. Keep going until you are outside and you can find your designated transfer.**
Our transfer was quick, and we made it to the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun in no time. No further than twenty minutes from the Cancun Airport. The location of the resort is between Cancun and Playa del Carmen near a town called Puerto Morelos. The Now Sapphire is spread out, open air style with the rooms located in fourteen buildings throughout the property. Our check in and check out both went smoothly.
The food at the resort was good. As with most places, you need to pick and choose what you eat. There is a saying I heard once about when eating in another country, "Peel it, Cook it, Boil It, or Forget It". Although I don't always stick to this strictly, I do try and follow the basic guideline.
The Market Cafe was a pretty robust buffet. There were some nice touches, for example about five different flavored salts to add to your items. At breakfast time there was a smoothie station. We had a mango smoothie one morning.
We ate at Lemongrass, the Asian restaurant twice. The first time we ate there was probably our best meal at the property. One time we sat at the hibachi table. For dessert, we both had vanilla ice cream tempura. Normally I'm not a huge sweet guy, but this was out of the world good.
Cibu was a newly renovated Medeterrain restauant. We had nice meals, but Sarah was being fussy so we ate quick. My lasagna was great!
Something to note is that we had Sarah with us for all our meals. The staff always got her a high-chair, and were accommodating. We were usually able to find something at the buffet that she would like, and for dinners we would sometimes sneak back to the buffet and get a plate for her. At Lemongrass we ordered her some chicken and rice which she enjoyed.
Neither of us tend to be big drinkers, but we did enjoy a few adult beverages while at the Now Sapphire. Each bar was quick and made good drinks.
**I have been to Mexico four times. I have never had any suspicion that I am drinking inferior quiality alcohol. Or that someone has tampered with my drink. Nor have any of my clients. It is important to remember that when you are drinking in the sun all day to pace yourself, and drink water and other non-alcoholic beverages.
At the Now Sapphire there were signs posted at each bar showcasing that their alcohol was inspected and of a certain quality.**
There is something at the AM Resorts called the Preferred Club (Now Sapphire falls under that AM Resorts umbrella). This is a category of room where you have access to certain pools, a special lounge, and sometimes additional restaurants.
We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a preferred club status. Our room was in a great location, but the resort gave two double beds instead of one king bed. This was alright, as we could have changed rooms after the first night, but didn't want to pack everything up and then unpack again. The room was big, and had a mini-bar, couch, and patio. A good sized bathroom as well. The air conditioning worked well. We did happen to be on the third floor without an elevator, so we always had to carry Sarah up and down the stairs. In my bed, there wasn't a fitted sheet, but just a regular flat sheet tucked in. I tend to toss and turn at night, and that bad boy came undone quick. Even though we asked for them to change our sheets, they didn't, because that flat sheet was still there each night. I know I could have called up and complained, but the staff was busy enough dealing with Franklin.
While we were there, Tropical Storm Franklin hit. It was only windy and rainy for about 24 hours. The staff did a great job keeping the walkways clear of debris and water from pooling. They set up movies to watch in some of the ballrooms. We watch Moana for about a half hour, and Sarah really seemed to like it :)
There was one big pool where we spent most of our time. It had multiple sections, including a swim up bar, area with jets, and some chairs that were in the water. People definitely played the "towel game" at the resort. For those that aren't familiar, this is when you put towels or other objects on chairs and loungers first thing in the morning, then come back hours later to claim your spot. The resort was sending people around to remove these objects if there were there for more than a half hour. There was a smaller preferred club pool that was adults only. We didn't get a chance to try it out, but when we walked by it looked quiet and serene.
The beach was not one of the highlights. There was just a lot of seaweed that the workers couldn't keep up with. The water was not that bright blue that is in so many brochures. I would say this isn't really a "beach resort".
We didn't participate in any of the activities, but there was always a lot going on. There were also large areas for children and teens to go with supervision. Once Sarah is older, that's where she'll be headed!
The service throughout the whole resort was great. In particular, we had a server at the Market Grill named Luis, who was wonderful. Sandy and I forgot to bring anything to clean Sarah's bottles with. Our first morning there, we asked Luis if he could possibly bring them to the kitchen and have them run through the dishwasher. He said no problem and to find him each morning and he would get it done for us. Luis was truly a lifesaver! He told us about his son who was about to turn three, and called Sarah "mi amore" (my love). Needless to say, having him as our server was a highlight of our trip.
After four days, it was time for us to pack up and switch resorts.
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