Each year we spend a good chunk of time and money going to my hometown to visit our family. My sister's family comes in from Montreal and mine from NYC. All of us are avid travelers and wanderlusters, so we sat down last year and unanimously agreed that we would start taking trips somewhere new rather than just going home, as much as budget allows.
This year marked our first attempt and it was, in a word, A-MAY-ZING!!! As word spread of our exciting plans, extended family jumped in and we ended up with a group of 19 adults and children joining from USA, Canada, and Japan!! And the location? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!
Our requirements were:
Meeting all of our requirements was the Crown Paradise Club Puerto Vallarta. For my family of 5 (granted the 2 babies were free), one week including flights, hotel, all food and drinks, was $3,000. Awesomely budget-friendly!!
For us, 2 best things about the Crown Paradise were:
1) Their pirate-ship themed kids' pool, featuring a bunch of water slides (9?), which was SOOOOOO much fun for the kids and adults!
2) Their kids' programs. They have a "Baby Paradise" where you can drop off kids ages 18 months - 4 years, for free!! Unfortunately our son lasted all of 5 minutes in there before our pager went off and we had to run back to pick up our sobbing child. Ugh. Apparently another child wanted to share, and ours did not... But he did love the little ride-in car we got to borrow from them. He was riding in style around the resort!! They also have a "Kids Paradise" for kids ages 4-12, and this was great. During the day the leaders would walk around the pools collecting kids for games and contests, and in the evenings they had "parties" the kids could attend while parents went off to have romantic child-free dinners.
Also amazing was the food. Their buffet was great, TONS to choose from and even a kids' buffet corner. They had 3 a la carte restaurants which were great (Italian, Asian, and French), but a bit annoying because you have to call a day ahead, from your room, to make a reservation.
The beach was beautiful, though I'm not much of an ocean girl. Some of our party did the free kayaking, and my hubby and his family paid extra for parasailing!! It was really exciting to watch, maybe I'll get the guts to actually do it next time!
The rooms were nothing special, but they were clean and ours had a nice balcony with views of 2 pools and the beach. I enjoyed nursing my babies out there while people watching!! We got 2 complimentary pack 'n plays for our girls, and there was plenty of room to fit them, but they were very dingy and disappointing. Our babies are only 5 months so clean sheets fitted over the mat was fine, but if they had been older and standing and chewing on the rail of the beds, yikes, I would have been really upset... So, if this sounds like your situation you may want to consider bringing along your own baby bed (like a blow up Dock a Tot perhaps).
The free nightly entertainment was also a bit disappointing. First off because it was not quite the level of professionalism and excitement as I was expecting, but also because it was so late. Most shows didn't start til 9, and after bringing all the kids to 2 shows I quickly realized it wasn't worth it. For the rest of the week we all went back to the room after dinner, nursed the babies, and were in bed by 9pm.
The only other negative thing at all I have to say about the resort was that several underwater steps in the kids' multi-level water park were no longer marked. I tripped going up and down steps that I didn't see, and I witnessed several children unexpectedly going under water because they missed steps down. We had water wings on our toddler and he was never out of reach, but this seemed a bit dangerous. Also, there were no life guards. So, long story short, please keep a close eye (or hand) on your kids if they're not very good in the water.
If you start getting antsy to get out on some adventures, there are TONS of excursions you can book right from the hotel (and if you have the time to sit through time share spiels, you can free excursions or other goodies). We did a full-day city/tequileria/jungle tour which was pretty cool, but I would have been 100% fine with just staying on the resort property for the full week! With all of our family with us, they were so helpful with watching the babies while we swam or ate, it was so relaxing and one of the most amazing vacations of my life... so far!! I really hope we can visit the Cancun location of Crown Paradise sometime soon!!!
Here's a video montage of our stay in Puerto Vallarta, enjoy! We sure did!!!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1). This blog is chock full of product reviews, family travel guides, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, and several guides focused on kid-friendly activities and guides to South Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, as well as family-friendly destinations beyond the NYC area (check the menu bar!)