February has come and gone and when you spend close to half the month on vacation, that can never be a bad thing. How did the Sip Family’s first international travel in over two years go? Let’s find out:
To begin the month, we finalized the purchase of our first ever new vehicle. After picking it up, we went for a late dinner at Montana’s in Langley. There, I took advantage of their $4.99 Rickard’s Red special, pairing it with a Southern-Fried Chicken Sandwich. We also had a coupon for a free appy, using it on their Loaded Garlic and Cheese Pull-Apart Bread. The beer hit the spot, while all the food was tasty. This was my first time to Montana’s for some time and I hope we can return soon for more comfort food goodness.
Next up, was our long-awaited family trip to Cancun, Mexico. We had booked this vacation all the way back in January 2021, thinking the world would be back to normal by February 2022. Well, it isn’t quite back to normal yet, but we weighed all the pros and cons and decided to still go ahead with the trip, despite pandemic concerns, having to take tests to return home, having to quarantine once we returned, and some of our fellow travel group deciding against travelling.
First, a couple quick notes about Vancouver International Airport and our flight to Mexico. Prior to our flight boarding, I noticed a Whistler Brewing Lodge was coming soon. I greatly look forward to this dining/drinking option at the airport and hope I get to enjoy it at some point. As for our flight, while we were saving our drinking for the all-inclusive resort, I was dismayed to hear flight attendants turn down drink orders and end drink service early because they didn’t have enough stock for the return trip. I mean, come on, people are starting their vacation and may want to get into the festive spirit or make their trip more relaxed. How could they not stock up properly for the round trip or why can’t they restock once in Mexico?
Upon arriving in Cancun, we boarded our private transport to the resort, with our drvier providing us with some of the most satisfying Coronas I’ve ever enjoyed. After a 1.5-hour journey, our long travel day was finally complete and we could begin relaxing and enjoying. Here are my notes about out resort, the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya:
Our bar set up was supposed to included two bottles of our choice, but we were thrilled to hear upon arrival that we would now get to select five bottles. In a bit of a panic, I quickly chose Stolichnaya Vodka, Havana Club 7 Rum, Jim Beam Bourbon, Bombay Sapphire Gin, and Don Julio Reposado Tequila. When looking into my selections, our bottles would have cost me close to $300 if purchased at a BC Liquor Store, so I was very satisfied with that. With free drinks across the resort, we planned to bring three of the bottles home and only opened two in the room.
Speaking of those drinks around the resort, my orders largely consisted of Margaritas, Palomas, Dos Equis Amber beers, Rum and Cokes, Gin & Tonics (using the delightful Tanqueray Rangpur whenever possible), and Jameson & Ginger Ale with lime juice. I also enjoyed the many “make your own” drink stations. There was ones for Mojitos, G&Ts, Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
As for food, it was mostly very good. I can’t say we had a single bad meal at any of the dinner restaurants and we enjoyed the various themes, including steakhouse, Thai, Japanese teppanyaki, family barbecue, Mexican, etc. We didn’t get a chance to hit them all, though, and particularly would have like to have tried their beach-set seafood and Spanish tapas options.
Okay, now for some negatives and areas where the resort can improve. I felt the resort was too big, comparing it to my opinions of rather being at Disneyland than Disney World, for manageability. Next, their computer system was atrocious with communication between different departments being almost non-existent. Add in some typical language barrier issues and there was a few problems we had to unfortunately work through, when we should have been relaxing without a care in the world. Lastly, I never got to try any of the resort craft beers, as they were only free in one part of the place, although they were on display everywhere. That said, I wasn’t thrilled with the varieties offered anyway.
My Top 5 experiences at the resort were:
- Playing with the Sipplings at the water slides
- Watching the kids dance at a couple of the parties
- Seeing Girl Sip perform live on stage for first time, through the Kid’s Club
- My night out with Mrs. Sip to watch the Chic Cabaret performance
- Our infinity pool getaways at the adult-only portion of the resort
We left the resort twice, once to see a friend’s mother in Puerto Venturas and a couple days later to Playa del Carmen to visit that same friend’s sister and her family. In Puerto Venturas, we had a late lunch at Café Ole International. There, I tried a Chamoy Michelada and scarfed down a delicious Baconnator Burger. The Chicken Strips for the Sipplings were also quite good, as I just had to try one. We also had a drink at the Beach Club & Hotel, where I had a Mai Tai.
In Playa del Carmen, we ate at the Sonora Prime steakhouse, where I ordered the Skull Rabbit cocktail. For food, we shared a number of menu items, including the Calimari and Cheese Dip and Chips. For a main course, Mrs. Sip and I shared the Wellington Burger, which was injected with hot cheese. The burger was spectacular, but sadly, Girl Sip was dealing with a bout of heat/sun stroke and that put a damper on this outing, as we were concerned with her illness and recovery.
On our return trip home, at the Cancun Airport, we wanted to eat at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen Bar, but it inexplicably closed at 6. This, during a dinner rush with many weary travellers looking for a good meal before boarding their long flights home or to their own vacation destinations. We ended up getting some eats in the food court area, but I was disappointed with not getting to try Guy Fieri’s.
That wraps the shortest month of the year. In the end, I’m glad we took the risk and went on this vacation. It provided a chance to have some wonderful family time together and experience some new things. March will be fun, as we have a number of Canucks games, other events and we celebrate my and Mrs. Sip’s 20-year dating anniversary!