Girls’ Weekend at Now Sapphire Resort

The food, the drinks and the gossip were flowing freely this weekend!

My Brazilian amiga Nadia suggested we do a girls’ weekend at an All Inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya. Saturday afternoon, we drove down toward Puerto Morelos to the beautiful Now Sapphire resort. I actually used to intern at this hotel in the reception area 3 years ago, back when it belonged to another resort chain. (Yes, I interned at many, many resorts during my university days.) Visually, it has always been my favorite resort in the area, with an immense pool and wood walkways winding through soothing ponds. All this is combined with breezy palapa roofs and a combination of Mexican and Asian-inspired style. Gorgeous.

After a quick check-in, we were taken to our room via golf cart. The resort is divided into small, 3-story villas named after Mayan ruins. Our building was set right by the beach, with a jungle view room set on the 2nd floor. I was very impressed with the guestrooms! Each has a small sitting area and a large balcony, not to mention a great bathroom.

Nadia and I spent our evening bouncing from one restaurant to another, taking full advantage of the resort’s All Inclusive plan. We sampled sushi, caipirinhas, martinis, baba ganoush, spinach ravioli and I can’t even remember what else!

The Mediterranean restaurant

The oceanfront restaurant, my fave!

Memories Lobby Bar, with tons of dancing and socializing after dinner

Nadia admiring the bathroom artwork

We turned in at midnight and woke up early the next morning with the breakfast we had pre-ordered the night before. After a quick workout, we put on our swimsuits and headed out to do some damage at the breakfast buffet.

Nadia then went to check out the spa specials while I decided to hang out at the pool. There were no loungers available (experienced resort-goers will be familiar with the infamous Towel Game), but I saw a beautiful bali bed right next to the pool with nobody on it. “This is too good to be true,” I thought to myself. So I waited a few minutes, and nobody showed up. I slowly and cautiously arranged my things on the bali bed, looking around in case anyone came up to tell me it wasn’t allowed. Thrilled with my success, I made myself comfortable and snapped a few photos.

Living the life

After the most glamorous 15 minutes of my life, a young uniformed gentleman approached me with a clipboard.

“Excuse me, miss. What is your room number?”

“307.”

(long pause while he flips through a few pages)

“Is your last name Palmer?”

“No…” (Stay cool, Laura, stay cool!)

“I’m sorry, miss, but these bali beds are reserved for our Preferred Club guests. There’s actually quite a long waiting list to use them.”

“Well I’ve already made myself comfortable! You should really put up a sign or something,” I exclaimed in righteous indignation as I got my things together.

“The sign is right here on the post, miss.”

“Oh. Ummm… sorry then. Thanks.”

Fabulousness transformed into humilliation within 30 seconds. Could only happen to me.

Feeling unimportant and defeated at the prospect of finding a chair, I made my way to the beach and settled in under a palapa while I waited for Nadia.

That's better.

We ordered some bottled waters from the beach waiter, spent an hour or so talking about life, took some pictures and watched the boats go by. Now this is a vacation!

Nadia suggested we try our luck back at the pool. There were still no loungers available, as expected, but we set our stuffย  by the pool’s jet tub and hopped right in. I loved the pool. Lots of activities were going on by the swim-up bar, but the pool was big enough that it was easy to find quiet areas for relaxation. Submerged loungers, one of my favorite things, were also in abundance.

We had programmed a late check-out for 1:30, so we eventually headed back to the room, packed up and changed into some dry clothes. Check-out was quick and easy, and we made our way to the Bluewater Grill for some more All Inclusive action in the form of ceviches and burgers.

The Now Sapphire was a great experience. I dare to say it was even better than most All Inclusives! Here’s why:

  • No bracelets
  • No waiting in line to make dinner reservations every morning (first come, first served)
  • 24-hour room service included
  • No worrying about towel cards… just walk up, get your beach towel, then bring it back when you’re done. Easy.

Gringation’s Tips:

  • Bring bugspray! Mosquitos weren’t a problem during daylight hours, but let’s just say that we weren’t the only ones feasting during our outdoor dinner at the beachfront grill.
  • Upgrade to the Preferred Club. Preferred guests have a private lounge, a beautiful separate pool, access to spa facilities and reservations for the poolside bali beds. (I only spent 15 minutes on the bali bed, but it was amazing!) This is one instance where I’d say the extra amenities are worth the higher pricetag.
  • Sit at the teppanyaki tables at Lemongrass restaurant. What a show!
  • Get to the pool early if you want to grab a lounger. Just don’t leave your stuff there for 4 hours without using it. Be cool, people. (Waking up at 5 am, putting your flip flops on a lounger, then going back to sleep until noon is not acceptable resort behavior.)

 

The Marina at Dreams Cancun Resort

As a grand finish to my whale shark tour posts, here are some photos of the beach at the Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa. We used Solo Buceo dive tour company, which is located right at the resort.

**Fun fact: I used to intern as a concierge at Dreams Cancun way back in 2007!**

It was the perfect place to begin and end our day.

Wet n Wild Waterpark

Last Sunday, Jorge and I took advantage of some free passes and went to Wet n Wild, a popular water park at the southern end of Cancun’s Hotel Zone. I had never been before, and Jorge hadn’t been since he was a kid. It was a BLAST!

The lazy river

I hadn’t been on a waterslide in YEARS!! It was amazing. From the top of the slides, you could see amazing views of the Caribbean, the Hotel Zone, the lagoon and the Riviera Maya. Sorry I don’t have pictures of that (my camera was in our locker most of the day).

We did a few laps around the lazy river, which got harder and harder as they day went on because of all the kids. Still fun, though.

It was a very tiring day because of all the stairs, but I gotta admit it was great exercise and so worth it!

The park is All Inclusive, and the food and drinks were pretty good! I hadn’t had an acceptable alcoholic beverage at an All Inclusive establishment in a very long time… or ever, really… but I had 3 Tequila Sunrises ๐Ÿ™‚

My only complaint was the lack of shade. Almost all the loungers are in a big, open area with direct sun. I put sunscreen on 3 times, and still left with a pretty impressive tan. (I know a nice tan sounds good, but I’ve been trying to protect my skin lately because of all our recent day trips! Plus I have self-tanning cream at home that works just as well.)

It was a great day, with the perfect mix of fun and relaxation. We’ll definitely be back!

Weekend at Sandos Caracol All-Inclusive Resort

This weekend, Jorge and I went with some of our friends to Sandos Caracol Resort in Playa del Carmen for my friend Juan’s birthday. We’d been once before, and we LOVE IT! It’s an all-inclusive eco-resort, and they’ve done everything they can to leave a lot of the native surroundings intact. Most resorts here tend to cut down everything to make room for villas, pools, bars, etc. This hotel has done the same, but still left behind lots of local mangrove all over the property.

This means lots of wildlife roaming on the resort grounds, a creek running through the middle of the resort, beautiful mangrove scenery and 2 gorgeous cenotes.

I love the layout of the hotel. Many resorts here have a bunch of builings set in a semi-circle in front of the beach, with the big pool area in the middle. This resort is a bit different, with small villas spread out along winding paths throughout the property, with restaurants and small pools nestled in there. It definitely makes things feel a lot more private.

24-hour outdoor buffet? Yes, please!

View of the mangrove from my favorite bar

The spa has a sauna, showers, jacuzzis and hydromassage pool with beds that you can use FOR FREE!! I have definitely spent a few hours here ๐Ÿ™‚

People in Mayan costumes hanging out in the parking lot before a show ๐Ÿ™‚

A 100% Mexican dog breed, called a Xoloitzcuintle, known for being used by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs

The adults pool, where we usually spend most of our time

Gringation, living the life

The main outdoor buffet often gets special visitors...

"I like to move it, move it"

The hotel just got a new kids' water park this year, called Splash.

Getting a little better at taking nighttime photos...

Freshly rolled cigars

Las Mascaras Mexican restaurant

The resort is currently completely renovating some of their guestrooms, mainly the ones closest to the beach. They’re going to be bigger, more modern and more eco-friendly. The main pool will also be bigger. AWESOME!ย  (The renovations in no way affected our stay, btw, and everything still looks attractive!)

Mr. and Mrs. Gringation

During certain seasons, Sandos Caracol gives special discounts to locals. We got an all-inclusive deal for $650 pesos (about $50 US) per person per night. Not too shabby!

The staff is incredibly friendly and the grounds are impeccable, yet natural. We’ll definitely be back a third time!

Check back later this week for pics of our hotel room, and the great idea they have for keeping guests eco-friendly!