Tag Archives: Mexico

Summer Family Getaways

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Barcelo Hotels & Resorts are offering summer getaways for families. // (c) 2014 Barcelo Hotels & Resorts

I am so ready to ditch school. I am over packing lunch boxes, putting in pony tails and driving my kids to and fro. Do I sound like a bad mom? Maybe I am just a mom in desperate need of a vacation. If you are like me, then Barcelo Hotels & Resorts is looking for you. They are rolling out the red carpet for moms and dads and children, too, with a variety of summer travel getaways for families. If you are like me, and you want to throw the towel in on busy mom duties, here’s a list of summer travel getaways in Mexico and the Dominican Republic:

Barceló Maya Beach Resort Complex (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

o   U-Spa – Barcelo Maya Caribe features a new U-Spa for kids. The spa is the first of its kind in Mexico and exclusively for children. Services include sophisticated up-dos, fun hair wraps and braids, manicures and pedicures with elaborate nail design, massages, and facials among other treatments.

o   Sacred Mayan Journey – From May 22-24, 2014, families can participate in the Sacred Mayan Journey  at Xcaret. Participants will row in canoes, the same way the Mayan ancestors did, from Pole (Xcaret) by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, to the park of Chankanaab on the Island Kuzamil (Cozumel).

o   Barceló Maya Entertainment Center – As part of a multi-million dollar renovation project, Barcelo Maya Beach Resort complex will boast a new Barceló Maya Entertainment Center complete with a sports bar, bowling alley, teen disco, new kids club, full waterpark, paddle tennis courts and redesign of the 18-hole miniature golf course.

Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)

o   Family Club Services – Family Club services begin immediately upon arrival as kids will be greeted with a welcome bag, including suntan lotion, mini slippers, a mini robe, and a pass to access the water park. Adults can enjoy a welcome cocktail at the Bar Las Olas with entertainment before settling in to a specially designed room, with a specific area for children to play and sleep.

o   Barcy Kids Club – Kids will keep busy with a plethora of activities offered through the Barcy Kids Club, available for children ages 4 to 12 years old. A group of trained staff supervise and keep the children entertained with beach walks, balloon competitions, films, beach volleyball, sandcastles, dance classes, mini disco and afternoons at the children’s waterpark.

o   Merengue Festival – The Merengue Festival, a celebration of the Dominican Republic’s favorite music and dance, will take place July 25 – August 10, 2014 in Santo Domingo. Visitors will celebrate with non-stop music, shows, concerts, parades, fairs and parties in the streets. The festival’s food, art exhibitions, games, and other activities draw thousands of tourists every year.

Seasonal rates start at $215 per room, based on double occupancy, and children 12 and under are only $60. Summer vacations can be booked by calling 1-800-227-2356  (www.barcelo.com).

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Five Family-Friendly Activities in La Paz

Swim with the sea lions at Espiritu Santo // (c) 2014 La Paz Tourism Board
Swim with the sea lions at Espiritu Santo // (c) 2014 La Paz Tourism Board

Pristine waters, unspoiled nature, white-sand beaches and striking natural wonders — that is what I love in a vacation and it can be found in our own backyard, La Paz. Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez the “aquarium of the world” and La Paz is its gateway. Located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, a short flight away from Los Angeles (Aeromexico flies direct), a once-in-a-lifetime adventure awaits families. Here are five activities that the La Paz Tourism Board recommends for a memorable family vacation.

1. Espiritu Santo. Espiritu Santo is a UNESCO-protected natural area north of the Bay of La Paz and home to one of the largest sea lion colonies in the world. Families can swim with the sea lions at a rocky atoll known as Los Islotes. The experience was called the “best animal encounter of 2014” by Scuba Diving Magazine — and you don’t even need your scuba gear. FunBaja provides daily transportation to the site.

2. Eat Like a Local. As a traveler with a passion for food, Mexico holds a special place in my heart and is my favorite food destination. Mexican food is also exotic enough to be a culinary coup for adults, but not to strange to turn off young palates, making culinary adventures enjoyable for the whole family. The La Paz Tourism Board recommends stopping into El Bismarkcito, (located on Paseo Alvaro Obregon, between Constitucion and Hidalgo) to savor the local flavors of the sea. The family-friendly seafood restaurant offers a variety of fresh, authentic seafood dishes, including what are arguably the best fish tacos in town. Kids don’t despair: There are a variety of kid-friendly, non-fishy dishes, just for you.

Afterward, La Fuente (located onAlvaro Obregon and Ocampo) offers homemade ice cream with flavors such as jamaica (hibiscus) cucumber with chile and pitahaya (dragon fruit) for the adventurous as well as your standard strawberry and vanilla.

3. Play Like a Local. Stroll the malecon (boardwalk) for an afternoon to get a feel for the heart of the city. The three-quarter-mile paved cement boardwalk is lined with bronze sculptures and a perfect place to watch the sun set.

4. Beach Day. Uncrowded crystal waters and miles of white-sand beaches are located within minutes of the city. Balandra Beach offers calm, shallow waters perfect for young children and is one of La Paz’s most famous natural sanctuaries. El Telecote Beach is also popular with children for its variety of activities, including Jet Ski, kayak and paddleboard rentals.

5. Nature Tour. Exploring La Paz’s rich cultural history is not enough. An eco-tour is a must. Companies like RED sustainable travel offer turtle conservation expeditions that will  enrich educational experiences for families. The kids can play marine biologist for a day monitor sea turtles, interact with researchers and care for the endangered species.

It’s hard to imagine that such biodiversity can exist just a short distance from Los Angeles. Families who dream of heading to the Galapagos one day or who desire natural and cultural experiences will delight after a trip to La Paz.

www.golapaz.com

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Retreat of the Week: Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

Iberostar Playa Mita Splash Park in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Iberostar Playa Mita Splash Park in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

I’m already dreaming about lazy days by the pool. Even though we have barely had a winter here in Los Angeles, I am ready for the relaxing summer months. And wouldn’t Mexico and the Caribbean be the perfect place to start?

Just in time for summer, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts has a new offer that allows kids stay free. Kicking off the 2014 travel season, the resort company is offering a new, kids stay free deal on vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean, available at select all-inclusive resorts. When visiting with two adults paying full price, up to two children can enjoy a free stay (varies by property). This promotion is valid when booked from Feb. 28 through April 30, and is valid for travel from May 1 to Dec. 23. Blackout dates may apply, June 22-Aug. 16 and Nov. 22-29, except for at the Iberostar Playa Mita. During blackout dates regular children’s rates will apply.

www.iberostar.com

 

Making Black Bean Tamales

One of my favorite activities on my recent trip to Veracruz, Mexico, was learning to make and wrap black bean tamales. Our experience, orchestrated by tour operator Yambigapan, started at a local farm where we picked the banana leaves that would wrap our tamales for cooking.

We chose the leaves we wanted to wrap our tamales in. // (c) Janeen Christoff
We chose the leaves we wanted to wrap our tamales in. // (c) Janeen Christoff

After a light hike nearby, we headed to Yambigapan’s rural home-stay facility, located on a bluff over looking a small valley.

We hiked through an abandoned textile factory and along a river. // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff
We hiked through an abandoned textile factory and along a river. // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

From the home, you can walk to the Laguna Encantada for boat rides or hike to a variety of destinations including the Volcan San Martin. Our group was their to experience local culinary traditions – specifically tamale-making.

Tamales are made in a traditional kitchen. // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff
Tamales are made in a traditional kitchen. // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

We started by chopping chepil, a Mexican herb that is somewhat similar to coriander.

Chepil // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff
Chepil // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

Then we kneeded the masa (tamale dough). You are gonna need a lot of muscle for this.

Kneeding the masa // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff
Kneeding the masa // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

Then came the hard part, folding the tamales in the leaves. It’s actually not that hard. You just plop a blob of masa onto the leaf and then fold the tamale like an American flag.

Tamale folding demonstration // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff
Tamale folding demonstration // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

Pop ‘em in the oven for a while, launch some globos (paper lanterns, which we also learned how to make), listen to some jarocho son music and voila, you have dinner.

The finished product: yummy black bean tamales // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff
The finished product: yummy black bean tamales // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

http://www.yambigapan.com

Adventure Day Spa

In Veracruz, you don’t need to visit an expensive spa for a good massage or facial, you just need a boat, a waterfall and a little bit of mud.

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Don’t forget to visit the shaman at the spa for a peek into your future.

http://www.yambigapan.com