Whenever I’m lucky enough to go on a romantic getaway to a lush tropical paradise, the last thing you’ll catch me saying is, “I wish my 10 year old niece was with me right now.” However, that was exactly what was on my mind as I lounged poolside at the Barceló Maya Grand Resort, a frosty cocktail in one hand and a soft serve vanilla cone in the other.
Surrounded by jungle and the clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea on over a mile of the best soft, white-sand beach in the Riviera Maya, the 24-hour all-inclusive Barceló Maya Grand Resort is comprised of five resorts: Barceló Maya Palace, Barceló Maya Tropical, Barceló Maya Colonial, Barceló Maya Beach, and Barceló Maya Caribe. With over 2,700 rooms, the resort is ideal for all guests – ranging from couples and multi-generational families to destination weddings and large groups.
For those of us who have waited longer to get married and have entered into partnerships that involve blending families, the idea of the honeymoon is no longer considered strictly a two-person event. Many of us are looking for travel options that include the whole family.
While mega-resorts generally aren’t my first choice when it comes to a romantic getaway (I tend to favor smaller, more boutique style properties), the Barceló Maya Grand Resort won me over with it’s pristine tropical setting (think: white sandy beaches, turquoise water and lush tropical landscaping) and the sheer diversity of options available to me during my stay. Home to 22 restaurants, 19 bars, 10 pools, three theatres, three water parks, the 33,000 square-foot U-Spa, bowling alley and much more, the question isn’t what to do, but what to do next.
Whether you’re planning a large family wedding abroad or looking for a way to include your kiddos in the honeymoon, here’s how to get the most out of your stay at the Barceló Maya Grand Resort.
1. Stay at one of the Premium Level swim up suites.
If you have the chance to stay at one of the Barceló Maya Caribe Premium swim up suites –do it. I loved being able to open my patio door and have my very own semi-private pool that was shared between only a small handful of guests. Not only did it feel incredibly luxurious, it was the perfect place to relax before and after a busy day of enjoying all of the resort’s other amenities.
2. Eat authentic, gourmet Mexican food at Mexico Lindo.
Although the Barcelo Maya Grand Resort is home to 22 restaurants, I was particularly looking forward to my dinner at Mexico Lindo, a restaurant that offers a gourmet take on traditional recipes from the various regions of Mexico. In my experience, resorts tend to water down local foods for tourists, so I was really happy this wasn’t the case at Mexico Lindo.
I started with the Tlayuda Oaxaquena (a large corn tortilla topped with Oaxacan string cheese and beef tasajo) and a trio ceviches: green, white and red. Next up was the Sopa Lima — a delicious Yucatan specialty that tastes like the best homemade chicken noodle soup with plenty of lime and cilantro.
For the main course I tried the chicken breast stuffed with pumpkin flower and a trio of mole sauces, along with the pacific coast shrimp with 3 chili and tamarind sauce (absolutely delicious).
Lastly, for dessert I tried “Our Earth” a sweet and spicy Mayan dessert with Cocoa and Meco chilli, vanilla and nixtamalized corn. To finish, I indulged in the Mayan Coffee Ceremony — a must try experience that’s as theatrical as it is delicious.
3. Take advantage of the Barcy Kids Club.
Along with many activities that you can do together as a family, the resort also offers several all inclusive “Barcy” kids clubs. Located adjacent to playgrounds and outdoor waterparks, the Barcy Clubs offer toys, crafts and video games, along with organized activities hosted by trained staff. Children aged 4 – 12 are welcome to attend without an adult. Children younger than 4 years are also welcome but must be accompanied by an adult guardian or babysitter at all times. Private babysitting can also be arranged with the concierge in advance.
4. Relax at one of the resort’s adults only pools.
Even if you’re traveling with loved ones, you and your guests will probably appreciate some much needed downtime. Enter: the resort’s adult only pools. With comfy beach cabanas and a built-in whirlpool, the morning I spent at the gorgeous adults only pool at the Maya Beach was the perfect respite from the non-stop action of the rest of the resort.
5. Pamper yourself at the U Spa.
Located near the beach at the Barceló Maya Caribe, the U Spa services the entire resort and is unlike any spa I’ve visited before. It’s gorgeous, ultra modern and has an incredibly tranquil vibe — in other words, exactly what I want from my spa experience. Make sure to check out the hydrotherapy circuit which includes a large stunning outdoor pool with jets and small waterfalls that you can enjoy after your treatment.
If you’re traveling with children, there’s an adorable Kids Spa located within the facility that offers services like manicures, hair braiding and massages designed to make your little ones feel like a prince or princess for the day.
6. Have Your Ceremony On A White-Sand Beach.
If you’re planning a destination beach wedding, the Barceló Maya Grand Resort has a team of seasoned bridal professionals dedicated to creating unique, tailored wedding experiences. The complex features diverse wedding packages (including South Asian) customized to each religious belief, with certified wedding planners providing knowledge of proper decoration and costumes
With a variety of stunning on-site wedding venues to choose from (including five beach locations), you can exchange vows on a white-sand beach with a backdrop of swaying palm trees and the sparkling sea.
Simone Paget is a food, travel and lifestyle writer based on the West Coast of Canada. She’s a nationally syndicated sex and relationship columnist for the Toronto Sun and the author of the blog SkinnyDip.ca. Her work has appeared in/on publications such as the Washington Post, Elle Canada, and The Toronto Star.