I had the great fortune of joining other bloggers on a sponsored trip to Cancun’s Caribe Park Royal Grand right on the wide open powder white beach overlooking turquoise Caribbean surf. This all inclusive is the primo retreat for a fun-in-the sun holiday.
The perfection starts with their two lavish pools. One is an activities oriented DJ-hosted pool with a walkup bar where efficient tenders gregariously churn out the margaritas and rum and cokes. Poolside bingo, chicken dances, and water games flow freely where poolside loungers are rarely idle. Here the spring break crowd predominates with nonstop volleyball pickup games an arms length away on the beach. Walk up around the corner on a stone path surrounded by palm trees and tropical vegetation and you’ll reach a second more sublime pool area flanked by cushy lounger beds and a swim up bar designed for lingering as your kids play in the 3 inch deep shallows.
These two atmospheres, family and relaxation, along with partying and cutting loose complement each other perfectly giving the entire Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand experience a festive yet laid back vibe. And the food offerings here combine to work the same magic.
You can either start the day with an a la carte breakfast at La Concha, a type of octagonal enclosed palapa
overlooking the pool and ocean or with a lavish buffet at Cocay. My pick was Cocay where one side of the spread included waffles, fresh toast, cereals, and a sophisticated omelet station. The other boasted platters loaded with fresh slices of ripe mango, papaya, orange, and several varieties of melon. Woven baskets bulging with assortments of fresh baked Mexican sweet rolls sit along side bowls of dried fruits, nuts, granola, and shredded coconut providing the ingredients for a healthy muesli when mixed with a helping of yogurt.
Surrounding the deck of the main pool area, Snack El Jardin grills up burgers with all the fixings including several varieties of hot pepper condiments along with their authentic fresh made nachos. You can top these with the classic melted cheese from the dispenser or sprinkle with finely grated jalepeno and pimiento powder. My favorite was the later giving the chips a flavorful bite. At Pizza Corner, dough is kneaded by hand right in front of you before being baked into personal sizes, sliced, and served for the taking. At first
glance, it’s familiar finger food but upon tasting is clearly homemade with native touches.
Similar to a cruise but not as formal, when the sun sets, it’s time to shed the bathing suits and flip flops for long pants, shirts, and dresses. This signals elegant menu offerings paired with extensive wine lists and top shelf mixed drinks. My favorite was the El Oriental Restaurant featuring oriental classics and a vast array of sushi paired with a Vinos Demeco Blanc 2008 from the Baja Peninsula. And no dinner here would be complete with a glass of Xtabentun anis liqueur, Mexico’s signature after dinner aperitif.
Beyond The Hotel
Even though it’s tempting to eat onsite during your entire stay and not venture out, I recommend exploring where
local families (staff) as well as these hotel restaurants source their fresh produce and other seasonal ingredients. Skip the taxis, head down the front drive to the bus stop next to the main entrance, and wait for the Route 1 Express. Hand over your 7 pesos and ask the driver when to get off for Plaza 23 in downtown Cancun. It helps to brush up on your Spanish, bring a stack of pesos, and be ready to bargain. There isn’t any clear signage marking this vast public market so once you get off the bus, immediately cross Tulum Boulevard and walk up one of the side streets leading right into the activity. In return for your intrepid spirit, you’ll be rewarded with tons of authentic Mexican crafts, mangoes the size of your thigh, fresh made corn tortillas, and spices you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Just be sure to visit mornings when all the stalls are open for business.