Seven nights, two archeological ruins, three cenotes, a half-dozen sea turtles, one stingray, five snorkeling adventures, and countless tropical fish.
And 48 margaritas. (Don't judge me.)
Because DW and I have been together for 30 years and we've always loved to travel, it was no surprise to many that we'd go away to celebrate our upcoming silver anniversary. But what we discovered on our trip to Mexico was that this was our first vacation—alone—in more than 15 years.
Sure, we've done some over-night getaways to Montreal, where the kids either stayed with my parents or (more recently, now that they're older) on their own, but the last time that DW and I were travelling on our own, without kids, was in 2004, when we took a tenth-anniversary getaway to Tuscany.
Back then, our oldest was three years old and our youngest was a few weeks shy of celebrating her first birthday. We missed them terribly and swore that we would return to Italy, five years later, with our two bundles of joy.
In September of 2009, we fulfilled that promise.
Before kids, DW and I would often make last-minute plans and take off: Montreal, New York City, England, Wales, France, Florida. Of course, we packed up and moved to South Korea for a couple of years, but even then we still wanted to travel: Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan.
When 2019 came around, the family had weird travel plans. I booked a trip back to Korea; DD18 booked a trip to Germany with her best friend; and DD15 is going to Greece with her best friend's family. DW considered going to Cuba with her best friend or possibly to NYC, to participate in the Five Boro Bike Tour.
Last year, DW had gone to the Mayan Riviera with her closest friends from high school, and fell in love with the area. But because that trip was strictly a "girl's retreat," where DW and her friends were together to reaffirm and strengthen their bonds, they limited themselves to their resort.
When DW returned, she wanted to research the area, for when she could return and explore with me. She discovered a bay, in Akumal, where sea turtles come to graze upon the underwater grasses, and she immediately added that spot to her bucket list. She feared that this protected area would soon close to tourists, so she wanted to go sooner, rather than later.
Thus was her decision to book an all-inclusive resort outside of Akumal, on the Mayan Riviera. And because this year marks our silver anniversary, she didn't want to take this trip without me.
We had the greatest trip.
DW did most of the planning, most of the research. For her, that's half the fun. And I agreed to all of her suggestions.
We stayed at the Luxury Bahai Principe Akumal, one of four resorts in this area that run under the Bahai Principe banner, just a few kilometres south of the town of Akumal. We booked the all-inclusive package through Air Transat, which had the added value of offering flights to Cancun, direct from Ottawa. A shuttle bus collected us and took the 90-km trek to our hotel lobby.
It paid to contact the hotel a few weeks ahead of our arrival, to ensure we were provided a room in the adults-only section of the resort. Not travelling with my own kids, I certainly didn't want to hear other people's kids.
When I made the request for this section of the resort, I explained that DW and I were celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss. That was also a good call.
When we arrived at our building, we were pleased to see that we were only three structures away from the adults-only infinity pool, which looked out to the Caribbean Sea. A 24-hour restaurant stood next to the pool, so we had a short walk for breakfast and a stunning sunrise each morning.
When we approached our room, which was an end unit on the top floor, we were greeted with a banner that was stretched across our door, wishing us a Happy Anniversary. In our suite, on a table, sat an anniversary greeting card, a bottle of sparkling wine, and a tiny box of chocolates.
The balcony to our suite looked into a quiet green space and opened to the infinity pool and restaurant. Beyond that, the beach and sea. The green space wasn't designed for people—there were no paths or benches—so this area was even more quiet.
We could hear the crash of waves in the distance but heard almost nothing beyond the occasional song of birds. It was perfect.
Though we were staying at an all-inclusive resort, we had no plans to limit ourselves to this spot. But we didn't want to sign up for excursions through the resort, either. We are, after all, experienced travellers, and we were prepared to venture on our own.
Over the next few days, I'll share our experiences. I still have photos to pull from my camera and we filled our two video cameras. If you're interested, follow our first full day of exploring, starting tomorrow.
Maybe have a margarita at hand as we go along. I know I did.