You know you’ve had a great vacation when you come back feeling rested, rejuvenated, and completely satisfied. I just returned from a 3-generation vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Multi-generation vacations can be tricky but this one exceeded my expectations. My husband, daughter, son-in-law, two granddaughters and I spent a week at Velas Vallarta and I declared it the best family vacation we’ve ever had.
What made it great: the people, the place, and the play.
I was looking forward to spending quality time with my two granddaughters, who are my favorite playmates, and I got it. At 8 and 4 years, they were the perfect age to participate in everything: swimming in the three pools at our resort, splashing in the waves at the beach, eating in the restaurants, going to a different cultural show every night, kissing the dolphin, snorkeling at Los Arcos, meeting new people, and speaking Spanish. They didn’t go to bed until 11 pm every night and were raring to go the next morning.
We also loved getting to know the people of Mexico and learning about their culture. At our all-inclusive resort we met many local families who came to enjoy the activities for the weekend. Despite the language barrier, my granddaughters enjoyed splashing in the pool with the children and were invited to a little girl’s first birthday party. We were fascinated as we watched a new tradition in breaking the birthday piñata. Every time a child took a turn swinging at the pink fairy piñata, everyone sang this chant:
Dale, dale, dale,
No perdas el tino
Porque so lo perdes
pierdes el camino.
Hit it, hit it, hit it,
Don’t lose your aim.
’cause if you lose it
you’ll lose your way!
Velas Vallarta Resort is a 10-acre oceanfront tropical paradise located on Banderas Bay on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Just five minutes from Puerto Vallarta International airport, it was an easy destination for our family. Our all-inclusive package included a three-bedroom suite overlooking the ocean and pools. The lush tropical landscape, reminiscent of Hawaii, included three swimming pools, a spa, fitness center, and two restaurants. It also had the added charm of two peacocks that strutted their magnificent feathers every time we approached them and several large iguanas that sunned themselves around the swimming pools.
The staff was incredible, especially the waiters at the restaurants. They gave the girls so much attention, bringing them special treats and folding napkins into bunnies. The restaurant had a different international theme each night and the variety of food was wonderful.
This vacation had something for everyone. During the day, my granddaughters spent so much time in the water—both ocean and pools—that I called them the Mermaid Sisters. They enjoyed treasure hunts, face painting, mask making, and musical chairs at the Kids Club. My daughter and I participated in ping-pong tournaments, Spanish lessons, volleyball games, and water aerobics.
I started my mornings doing yoga on the beach with Xavier. There is nothing better than closing your eyes in a yoga pose and listening to the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. I even managed to find a Zumba class at the local fitness center and had the fun of dancing to the Latin music in a Latin country.
Every evening we had front row seats for a different cultural show that included a superb Mariachi band, traditional celebratory dances with music and costumes from across Mexico, a circus performance with acrobats and a magician, a mime show that engaged the girls in some fun, and a Mexican fiesta with an invitation to come on stage and join in the dancing.
We also hired a boat that took us snorkeling at Los Arcos. I was amazed when both girls eagerly jumped off the side of the boat into the ocean to look at the colorful fish swarming around us.
For me, the magical moment of the vacation was our dolphin encounter. The six of us got into a seawater pool with four-year old Ali, a 400-pound dolphin, and got to pet, hug and kiss him, and hold his flippers while he danced in the water. Dolphins are such gentle and playful creatures. It was a thrill to get that close to one and feel his incredibly smooth skin. While Ali’s trainer explained some facts about his anatomy and behavior, she tossed him handfuls of fish to reward his behavior.
On our last morning my daughter, granddaughters, and I got our hair braided by Lucy, a kind woman who wove the braids in her nimble fingers with remarkable ease. It was a memorable ending to a truly satisfying family vacation.