We decided that we needed to take a holiday this year. It's been about six or seven years since we've taken an actual vacation. We've been working so hard on remodeling the house since we bought it (four years ago) and J has been working on getting his masters (this is his last semester), we have had no time for anything else. So this year was the year.
We booked our flight, ground transportation, and hotel with Expedia. We got an exceptional deal and the process was quite simple. We looked around at many different places, but decided Expedia was the one for us. We were very happy with them.
I had read a few things that when booking with Expedia, the hotel doesn't have to offer what you booked, but we had no problems. Just make sure to check things like when your flight leaves, what airlines you've booked, etc, etc.
So August finally rolled around and it was time for our holiday. Our flight was very early and out of O'hare, so we decided that the best thing would be for us to leave around midnight the day before. We got to O'hare at about 2:30-3:00 in the morning, parked, took the shuttle bus, and waited for the ticket lines to open. We had to check our bags (I'll get to that later), so after checking in, we had to wait for TSA to open, which isn't until 4:00. So that means we spent an hour standing in line to check our bags and go through security. So much fun. But, TSA was very quick and everyone was in good spirits even though it was so early in the morning.
Now I don't know if you've ever been to O'hare, but it's on the list of my least favorite airports. It's just a crap airport. You'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever had to fly out of Chichago. But we weren't going to let that get us down, we found our terminal, got some breakfast (we did have to wait for McDonalds to open), and waited for our flight.
We used an airline called Spirit. Neither J or I have ever used them before, so we were not sure what to expect. They are a budget airline, so that means they charge you for everything (carry on bags, checked bags, drinks, etc). Also there are no reclining chairs and no frills.
I wasn't thrilled we were checking our bags, but there wasn't much we could do. It cost us an additional $230 to check our bags. Bags that would be considered free carry ons on most other airlines. But like I said, not much we could do about it and we weren't going to let this ruin our vacation. This is just something that we will take into consideration the next time we book a flight. But our flight out was one time (actually early) and the staff was helpful and happy, so we couldn't complain to much.
We did not have a direct flight, was had an hour layover in Dallas. Which was a nice little break to stretch our legs and get something to eat. The airport in Texas was okay, we were only there long enough to grab a cold sandwhich and get back on the plane. The sandwhichs we go there were terrible, but not much is expected with airport food.
Once we arrived in Mexico, we went through customs, which was a breeze. I suggest you have a pen with you on the airplane because they have you fill out your customs forms before you get to the airport. You can do it at the airport, but it speeds up the process if you're prepared. We did hit he Russian roulette button and got red which meant they opened and checked our bags, but it only took a minute or two.
We had booked ground transportation with Best Day Travel. It cost almost $70 USD for a taxi to the hotel, so semi private transportation was a no brainer (it was only $45 USD round trip for the two of us). The company had someone waiting for us at the door and directed us to our shuttle. We only had to wait 5-10 minutes and we were on our way. It was great. There are a lot of options for transportation. You can take the bus, a taxi, or you can set up private or semi-private transportation right at the airport. I suggest doing it a head of time. You've been on a plane for half the day, you don't want to have to deal with booking transportation when you get there.
But back to our vacation, after about a 20-25 minute drive, we arrived at our hotel, Live Aqua. We did so much research on hotels before we booked and this one was rated #2 in all of Cancun. It totally lived up to that. I was a little worried that it wouldn't, that we would be sadly disappointed when we got there. We were not disappointed at all.
We were greeted at the door with "welcome home" and our bags unloaded and whisked away. They walked us up to the counter to check in and while we were checking in we were given a cold towel that smelled like mint and a cold glass of ice tea. The ice tea wasn't anything special, but it was so nice after traveling all day. And the cold towel was amazing.
The whole hotel smells like eucalyptus, so if you're not down with that, I suggest finding another hotel. I have very bad allergies and migraines that are triggered by smells, but I had no problems the whole time we were here.
Check in only took about 5 minutes and then after, we were both treated to hand massages. It was all so nice after being awake for almost 48 hours at this point. I had heard that they try to sell you time shares while giving you the massage, but we didn't experience that. And we checked in at about 3:00, right at check in time. We chatted about where we were from and why we were vacationing, just normal small talk.
After that we were then escorted to our room and given an overview of the hotel. We were told which elevators to use, where all the restaurants were, where the spa was, where the gym was, etc, etc.
We couldn't believe it when we got to the room. We had a private ocean view terrace. Which was at the end of the hallway, down it's own little hallway (so no foot traffic outside our door). It was amazing. We booked a normal, everyday balcony room, but got this great terrace instead. It was amazing. Oh wait, I already said that. Well, I said it quite a lot while we were there.
The room had a small mini bar that was restocked daily. A large kind size bed. A bathroom with a tub and a large separate shower and a double sink. There was a TV and a DVD player as well, but we never turned on the TV the whole eight days we were there. The terrace had two reclining chairs and a small table. If I had a complaint it would be that the patio furniture could have been a bit nicer, but that's just nit picking.
This was our view from our room. The ocean was the most beautiful blue and the sound of the waves was so relaxing. We were both in love. Our room was huge, our bathroom was huge, and we had our own private terrace. We spent the whole week with the patio doors open so we could here the ocean. It was perfect.
|The lagoon behind the hotel|
The lot next to the hotel was vacant (on the map is says it's public land), so our terrace was very private. No million room resort right next to us.
This was our first time doing an all inclusive. We had no idea how it would go and if we would even like it. But we gave it a try. The hotel only offers all inclusive, so you don't have any options. But is was worth it. There are a few things you still have to pay for, but just things you would expect (spa, cabana rental, etc).
We were exhausted the first night there, so we decided to just explore the grounds a bit and then grab a bite to eat. The grounds are small because it's a small hotel (less then 400 rooms), but they are beautiful. There are trees and flowers everywhere. They have water features all over the place, which provide a very soothing atmosphere. There are six or seven pools and at least one hot tub. There are no water slides or things like that because this is an adult only hotel. There is a swim up bar, and that place was always a party.
After a little exploring, we got a couple of rolls of sushi while we sat at the bar. I had a vodka tonic and J had a Crown and Coke. The nice thing about this place is all the top shelf liqueur is included. Most all inclusive resorts charge you extra for top shelf, not Live Aqua.
After drinks we went to Siete for dinner. Siete is the buffet restaurant. But they also have a different a la carte menu almost every night. We went with a la carte because it was Mexican night. I got the Yucatan braised beef and J got the red snapper. Delicious. We also learned that the appetizers are single serving and that the portions are on the the smaller side. Which is great because you can try a bunch of different things.
We then headed back to the room and passed out. We hadn't slept in over 48 hours by this point, so you could understand why we were exhausted. We scared the crap out of the maid. They have turn down service at night and when she came into the room, we were both already in bed. You can prevent this by remembering to put the do not disturb thing on the door, we were so tired we forgot to do this. I felt bad the next day for being a little cranky with her.
So that was the beginning of our vacation. It started out with us both exhausted, but with no problems. Not much more we could ask for. Tomorrow I'll talk more about the hotel and the beach and the city.