Review, tips, and everything else you should know for an awesome vacation to Playa Del Carmen Mexico with or without your kiddos.
Playacar Palace Playa Del Carmen
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Mexico and it’s 85F degree weather in the middle of the winter might be the most glorious thing ever of all time. Just so you know.
Which is why today I will give you every tip and trick I know (so far!); so that you can experience a fun adventure like this with your family sometime!
In this post you will find tips for:
- Airfare- how to get points and a companion pass
(this is how we did it, but obviously there are many ways to fly to Mexico and what’s right for some isn’t right for others).
- Resort- who we booked through and why. All inclusive vs Not
- Fun Excursion Opportunities in Playa Del Carmen and it’s surrounding areas.
This post does contain affiliate links. I am not being paid or partnered in any way by any of these companies; I just really really enjoyed our vacation and would love to share!
Dear reader, my family and I recently took a trip to Cancun. Originally we were supposed to be visiting another part of Mexico with my parents, but they had to back out of the trip in exchange for a hip replacement for my Dad. Probably a good choice…
Any who, that left us with a slight change of plans somewhat last-minute. Today I will tell you about the best vacation I’ve ever been on. And I’d love for you to keep in mind that this was all planned literally within just a couple of weeks to days before going.
Note: We did already have passports ahead of time. That is not something you can do the last minute.
Airfare to Cancun
To go to Playa Del Carmen, you must first fly into Cancun. The airport there was happily a clean organized airport. I appreciated all the modern and convenient options we were given within and without the airport.
We flew via Southwest Airlines.
Let me tell you all a neat little thing about Southwest, but first a disclaimer: this is not for everyone.
It’s usually pretty easy if you’re watching for it, to find Southwest Credit card deals where they offer you 50,000 points for signing up and spending up to $2000 (which is even more points) on that credit card within 3 months of activation.
Last year I did that and after I received the card, I put every household expense and bill on that card in that following three months and immediately paid it off.
(Another Note: I’m highly against purchasing things you can’t afford, but if you have the money for what you’re buying and are using the card solely for the points then I think “Good on you!”).
So at that point I had earned 50k+ points.
Then I signed up for a Southwest business card under the same account, and again spent the 2k within 3 months. Which gave me another 50k+ points.
Did you know that when you have 110k points with Southwest they automatically give you a companion pass that allows you to have one person travel free with you everywhere you go? Truth. For the rest of that calendar year and for the following full year!
Plus then you have 110k points to use and the companion doesn’t use your points because they are free.
That’s how we flew to Cancun for free (Well in a manner of speaking anyway)! Lots of points and two free companions with the two adults.
All Inclusive vs Not Inclusive
Due to our happy results in the past, we chose to book our resort through Costco travel. They usually only offer places with good accommodations and at a significantly reduced rate. Costco travel will let you cancel up to three days out. Plus in Mexico they took care of our rides to and from the airport.
If you read my Orlando Top 3 post back in August then you know I was pleasantly surprised by our accommodations on that trip and was therefore hoping that booking through Costco would pull through for us again.
We were given options for both Inclusive and Non Inclusive resorts for Cancun and it’s surrounding areas. We chose Playa del Carmen because it is somewhat removed from the more millennial crowd found in Cancun and therefore we were hoping Playa Del Carmen would be more family friendly, and it did not disappoint.
I don’t drink alcohol so that was not a plus or negative for me by way of Inclusive vs non-inclusive. However, I do have a family of hangry (hangry- when a person is hungry and act angry until fed) people. If my children are even slightly hungry while on vacation it becomes a miserable vacation. So food is always a big priority in this family.
Pros of booking All-Inclusive
- Food and Drink: unlimited food and drinks! If your drink is melting in the sun, someone will bring you a fresh one!
All inclusive resorts usually have many on-site “restaurants” to choose from throughout the day and at every meal. Be sure to bring pants or a dress because there is usually at least one restaurant option with fabulous food but a dress code.
- Everything you need in one place! Activities, games, pool, ocean, etc…
They usually have staff there with options just to help keep you entertained, from free options like water yoga and beach volleyball to paid options like waterboarding and jet skiing, all right there at the resort.
- Usually a kid’s club: in case you need a minute away from the cuties!
- Nightly Entertainment: Think a cruise, but you’re not seasick or stuck in a dark hole of a room!
- Resort Credits: depending on who you book through, oftentimes all-inclusive resorts will include a resort credit with your room price. These credits can be used for excursions, the spa, and more…
Cons to an all-inclusive resort:
- You probably won’t get out and about and experience much of the true culture.
- If you go on full-day excursions then you are missing that time of already paid for food, drinks, and entertainment.
- Usually more costly.
Playacar Palace Playa Del Carmen
We stayed at the Playacar Palace in Playa Del Carmen.
You guys when we first went to our room I was HIGHLY disappointed! Our Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen hotel experience had been great, the hotel lobby area was gorgeous…
Up until that point all had been amazing. Then we were sent downstairs to room 148. The stairway light was broken. There were pallets of building supplies in the hallways. Outside our bedroom door was a very broken walkway. The room itself was okay but the shower and bath wouldn’t drain and out the bedroom window was the view of a brick wall.
If this is scaring you away from the Playacar Palace- keep reading!
I immediately said to myself “Oh crap! What did we just waste all that money on?”
We ate dinner at the cafe because we didn’t know there was a difference between the restaurants. the food was “so-so”.
Then we went for a night swim where we met Tillie. Tillie saved our vacation.
Long story short Tillie is a southern women and therefore has no problem talking to strangers and asking questions like “What room are you guys in?”
When we told her our room number the immediate response was “Oh you’re in the black hole! You need to call and tell them to change your room and say you want ocean views!”
Then Tillie told us which restaurants were best and what to order in them.
We were moved to room 304 with polished marble hallways, ocean views and a shower that worked! #highmaintenance. Haha!
Dear Readers, my opinion of the Playacar Palace made a 180 turn after that!
What I loved about our stay besides the usual “pros” of an all-inclusive stay:
- The rooms were cleaned and towels replaced multiple times a day.
- The staff was wonderful! Multiple waitresses knew my kids by name and went out of their way to make sure they were always having fun.
- The food!
In the mornings the cafe has a large array of choices buffet style. However, they also have multiple staff members out there cooking to order. When ordering an egg white omelet for breakfast, I get to watch them crack the eggs right in front of me!
For lunch we usually ate pizza made poolside right before our eyes in a big brick pizza oven.
Dinner, oh Nellie! The Italian restaurant serves the most beautiful food! Lots of great options and you can see a staff member making the noodles fresh the entire time. The Japanese restaurant is Tepenyaki style and that would’ve been worth it alone for the show. However he was making our food fresh before our eyes and it tasted delightful!
- The drinks. They made the best drinks there! So many fun options. Funny story- As I mentioned before I don’t drink alcohol. However, I LOVE virgin versions of all the alcohol drinks! LOVE them you guys! Like seriously, love. Well, turns out my 3-year-old does too. Except she wanted the alcohol in them. She liked the bright-colored bottles you see… So every time she’d order a drink, be it at the lobby bar, at dinner or at the swim up bar, she’d say ” I want AckaHallllll!” 🤦🏼♀️😂. #momfail!
- The pool was clean!
- They offered some really fun daily activities.
- The beach was RIGHT there!
When you book a stay at the Playacar Palace in Playa Del Carmen with Costco Travel you get a $750+ resort credit. This credit can be used toward on site and off site excursions. Just know that they do charge a 16% tax on that $750!
We chose to use our credit toward a Dolphin discovery excursion where we got to swim with, dance with, and give kisses to dolphins. (PS they loved me this time! Guess I smelled good.)
The other excursion we did was visiting the Tulum mayan ruins through Alma’s LDS Tours. I loved this visit and would go back again just to visit the bigger sites that were closed that day. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and polite. It was a very neat experience and at the end they provided a delicious lunch!
Video Montage of our Playa Del Carmen Trip:
Above you can see a quick video montage I put together highlighting our trip. It was a laid back relaxing trip with just the right amount of adventure for the kids but not so much that mom had to drag them around. A perfect vacation!
My paint splatter swimsuit and my Lemondrop swimsuit are both from Kingdom and State.
The multicolored bandana Tankini is Kenneth Cole Reaction found on Amazon.
I highly suggest any of these suits as I have found them all to cover what needs covering but still help me feel cute and confident. If you are scared away by the high neck and the tan you’ll miss because of it: repeat after me “I don’t want an old neck!” and then go check out this rub on tanner than I have been loving on lately.