The past few months have been challenging. We have a tween testing the parameters of independence, friends with terminal health issues and an unpredictable work schedule. Drifting away from each other only exacerbates the stress. The kids needed separation from unreasonable peer influences and we needed to pull our two boys back into our arms. Holding kids close can be tough when bullies, sports demands and homework pressure take over. We needed to reign everyone in and reconnect – get the little birds back in the nest for a while so that they could regain security and stay true to themselves.
My husband and I took a vacation, without the children, in Puerto Vallarta. It was heaven. It was romantic. It was adventurous. It was stunning. It was just what we needed to rekindle our marriage, get to know each other again, and have some adventures together.
With the explosion of farmers markets and the locavore movement, everyone is interested in knowing where their food comes from. One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico, is taking the concept a step further. The new “Palm to Popsicle” program lets kids at the resort see the journey of a coconut from a palm tree, to the kitchen, and into a freshly made popsicle.
As an official “Coconut Hunter,” when a child spots a ripe coconut in a tree, a gardener will cut down the coconut. They will then head into the resort’s kitchen where the children will work with a chef to break open the shell and then help to make a fresh popsicle from a straight-from-the-tree, hyper-local coconut. Children can take home the recipe for their coconut treats.
One&Only Palmilla Coconut Popsicle
2 cups of fresh coconut water
2 cups of chopped coconut “meat”
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cups of pure agave syrup
2 ounces of fresh lime juice
Grated zest of one lime
Step 1: Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend at medium to fast speed for one minute.
Step 2: Fill a popsicle mold and place in freezer; when half frozen, remove from freezer and insert popsicle stick.
Step 3: When completely frozen, loosen the popsicle by running warm water over the outside of the mold. Enjoy!
Was that Jen Aniston? Maybe – if her people are in the know. This place rocks. Beautiful clientele, superior staff and the most gorgeous views on the Riviera Maya. (But without the paparazzi.) Located in a stunning gated town south of Playa del Carmen, the Omni is the gem of Puerto Aventuras, and is steps away from the dolphin lagoon that flanks the marina. Yes – you can swim with the dolphins. Or just watch the free show every night. Be sure you feed the sea lions and manatees too (did you know they eat lettuce?).
Upon check-in to the Omni, you are greeted with a cool towel and royal welcome. Rooms sport outdoor bathtubs, natural stone finishes and pass-throughs for your breakfast which can be taken on your private patio. Linens are soft, the complimentary water is lovely (after a few margaritas) and the lobby is one of the most romantic places you could possibly be in the evening. Illuminated coconut shells hang from the bar as spa-like music wafts from the rafters.
For children, there are a few attractions that are guaranteed to excite. The kid’s pool is warm and shallow, and friends are in great supply. The beach boasts some of the softest, whitest sand imaginable, and canopied beds and large round sofa-chairs invite you to flop around the pool deck. Naptime made easy. BTW, you can hang at the pool bar with it’s grand staircase to the beach while you watch the kids play. The staff never neglect placing a hyacinth in the curtain tiebacks, and pineapples are placed on the hot tub bar tables – complete with funny faces made out of fruit.
The MG Gym & Spa is exceptional and overlooks the crescent beach and blue-green waters. If you hit the gym early, you beat the heat and stay in bikini shape. Make sure you ask for Tarzan as a trainer. (Yes. That is actually his name and he is the spitting image of Fabio. Honest.) Even if you’ve never seen the inside of a gym, he’ll run through the machines and tailor exercises to your body while entertaining you with his endless wit. You’ve actually done 12 reps already and didn’t even notice.
Dive Aventuras, the scuba shop, is located right on the premises and is more spa than dive outfit. Your tanks and snorkels are carried the short walk to the dive boat, and you have the opportunity to see incredible sea life and be back before the kids even miss you. The stunning reefs are so close that your spouse won’t be ticked off at how long you’ve been gone. Turtles, moray eels and tiger fish are easily found by the dive masters. The best news? Andreas is always very happy to oblige the little people who want to try on ‘tiny wetsuits’ and watch the pool divers practice.
Strolling around the Puerto Aventuras marina, there are many restaurants and great shops (corona bikini or wrestling mask anyone?). Residents favour golf carts as a means of transportation, and deep sea fishing charters leave the marina regularly. Both sights provide constant amusement for the kids. Sun, great food, white sand, dolphins, five-star hotel and an endless stream of amusement for children. The perfect Mexican vacation.