For some parents, the decision to travel internationally again feels almost insurmountable. After two years of illness, fear, masks, social distancing and spotty childcare, the added risks of schlepping kids across the globe can simply seem like too much.
But, as the latest COVID surge recedes, and the world opens, many families are ready to turn off the Cocomelon and take the plunge—and they’re looking for trips that feel both luxurious and easy, adult-oriented but kid-friendly, all-inclusive but uniquely-inspired.
This is exactly the balance the recently opened Garza Blanca Cancun is hoping to strike. I went there in February with my husband and kids—my first airplane ride, let alone international vacation—since the pandemic, and dare-I-say, it reaffirmed my commitment to family travel.
The Cancun, Mexico resort is actually the third in the Garza Blanca line, with other properties in Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. This newest iteration sits half an hour north of the Cancun airport, on a stretch of sand that feels decidedly away from the tipsy college scene. Here, the beach is pristine, the pools are abundant (each one calibrated to a different temperature), and the vibe is palm-tree-casual meets penthouse-luxury, with ratan chairs and woven hammocks against marble floors and gold deco flourishes.
Rooms start at 600-square-foot junior suites (from $262/night) and work their way up to family-ready one- and two-bedrooms with fully-stocked kitchens and washer/dryers, some with ocean views or private swim-up pools for an extra cost. But while guests are certainly welcome to book rooms by the nightly rate, they’d be remiss to skip the all-inclusive option which, hear me out, is outstanding.
Indeed, if “all-inclusive” brings to mind stale buffets and watered-down daquiris, the Garza Blanca wants you to think again. The four gourmet restaurants—Mexican, Japanese, Chinese and a steakhouse—offer creative menus with fresh ingredients. Think: tuna ceviche with squash seed puree and hibiscus powder or oxtail soup with laurel and clove. But even the room service and pool-side fare is excellent, and there was something on every menu that my 5 and 7-year-old would eat. (Though it is worth noting that the formal dining options are formal, so if your feral children—like mine—don’t remember how to behave in a restaurant, you might want to ease them into it.)
That said, there is no place at the Garza Blanca where children won’t feel welcome, and though you may want to drop yours at the complimentary kids’ club (I sure as hell did!) or book an in-room babysitter, it’s also totally cool if they want to repeatedly cannon ball into the infinity pool.
My number-one worry when committing to the trip was, of course, the COVID situation, particularly since, as of this writing, Americans are required to test negative within one day of their return flight—and I did not want to wind up like my colleague who tested positive in Grand Cayman over Christmas. But I will say that the Garza Blanca made that worry as minimal as possible; they offer on-site antigen and PCR testing and, should you test positive, you can quarantine in your room or suite for a discounted rate. Plus, since almost all activities are outside and most restaurants have outdoor options, the risk just felt pretty low.
The resort is expected to be complete next year (with an attached shopping plaza, food court and adults-only wing in the works), but go now if you’re looking for an utterly relaxing trip to ease you back into a jetsetting lifestyle.
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