A Family Friendly Trip to Cancun

by Mark Smiley

Eleanore Smiley on the patio of a preferred club guest room overlooking the ocean

An aerial view of Now Sapphire resort in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

My wife and I decided that we needed a family vacation and began to plan a trip to Mexico to have some fun in the sun and relaxation. When researching the different options of where to stay, there are a myriad choices. We decided to focus on resorts in Cancun that were family-friendly. The three websites we relied on most were Trip Advisor, Oyster, and Family Vacation Critic. These sites gave us a good idea, after sifting through hundreds of reviews, which resorts would suit our needs.

After careful consideration, we decided on Now Sapphire, a resort in Puerto Morelos, which is 15 minutes from the Cancun airport. Now Sapphire is part of AMResorts which also owns Dreams and Secrets resorts. Puerto Morelos is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world.

After booking roundtrip airfare on Southwest Airlines, we checked these two purchases and we quickly realized we should carefully select airport transfers, excursions, and anything else we wanted to do or the vacation could quickly escalate in price. Cancun Adventure Tours was the company we used for round trip airport transfers and an excursion to Xel-Ha Aquatic Park.

Upon arrival at the Now Sapphire resort, the staff was friendly and accommodating. We decided to pay the extra fee for Preferred Club and were not disappointed. This Club includes a private check-in and check-out ex

The Now Sapphire pool at sunrise

perience, free WiFi throughout the resort, an oceanfront room, the ability to reserve private bali beds near the pool, and more.

Now Sapphire, a former Paradisus hotel, was completely remodeled in 2010. The grounds are well maintained and the food in the seven restaurants was surprisingly good for an all-inclusive resort. The all-inclusive experience included all food, drinks, pool and beach wait service, 24-hour room service, and more.

The white sandy beach is private but does collect quite a bit of seaweed. The staff works by hand to try to clean it up each day but it does accumulate rapidly. Many reviews online mention this but we found it to be a beautiful beach with warm salt water and a tiki bar steps away to quench our thirst.

The oceanfront of now Sapphire Resort

Now Sapphire is also famed for hosting weddings. Beth Russell from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a guest at the resort for her son’s wedding. “The wedding was wonderful, the staff sure cares about the way things are put together, for a wedding,” said Russell. “Everything was spot on and we all had a good time.”

Excursions in Cancun are plentiful. Families must choose what fits their needs and decide how much of

Eleanore Smiley swimming with the dolphins through a company called Dolphin Discovery

their vacation they want to fill with excursions. We chose a dolphin experience with a company called Dolphin Discovery. Dolphin Discovery has multiple locations throughout Mexico. We chose to go to Dreams Puerto Aventuras which was approximately a one-hour ride from the resort. The 45-minute dolphin swim was an educational and a fun experience. The company added a manatee and sea lion experience at no additional cost. The guide and trainer were knowledgeable and friendly and the excursion included a lunch buffet.

There are resorts closer to the attractions so if you plan to do more than one or two, consider these venues as three hours in a van each day will eat into your vacation time.

The Smiley Family at Xel-Ha, a natural aquatic park

For our purposes, we did not want to fill each day with activities. We enjoyed swimming in the large pool complete with a swim up bar, relaxing on a bali bed, eating hamburgers and hot dogs at the Barefoot Grill by the pool, taking in a hydrotherapy treatment which is included with a Preferred Club upgrade.

The Hibachi meal at Lemongrass is very popular

Restaurants do not require reservations with the exception of Lemongrass Asian Cuisine’s hibachi meal. Most restaurants open for dinner at 6 p.m. but 24-hour room service is available. In addition, the Coco Café is open 24 hours featuring snacks and specialty coffees. This was especially helpful since tours departed from the resort at 7 a.m. which only allowed time for a coffee and muffin to go.

The combination of Southwest Airlines, Cancun Adventures, Dolphin Discovery, and Now Sapphire in Puerto Morelos provided an affordable and family friendly vacation. If considering this trip, temperat

The private white sandy beach at Now Sapphire

ures in Cancun tend to be best in the winter and spring. Summer temperatures soar into the 90s by August. Temperatures for this reporter’s trip remained in the mid-80s with very little rainfall.

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