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The Summer is officially upon us, and one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of this season, are all of the amazing get-togethers and reunions with family and friends. No matter how busy your schedule or how much time has passed by since you were last in touch, during the summer, there’s always time for a little travel and hopefully that can be enjoyed with your loved ones.
What could be a better excuse than the celebration of the 4th of July Holiday to schedule a Destination Reunion? What’s that, you may ask? Well, we’ve all heard of Destination Weddings, so just remove the tiny detail of the matrimony and you’ve got the same fun filled escape that will leave everyone with memories of a lifetime, and facing the most challenging detail at the end of the trip, swallowing that lump in their throat when it’s time to return home. So this year, why slave away behind the BBQ while everyone else is enjoying the fun and why fight the crowds of people to get the best view of the same firework show you saw last year? Instead, take it as a sign that the 4th of July is on a Friday this year and plan for a long weekend getaway with friends and family.
Choose a place, preferably somewhere warm, schedule your dates, pack your bags, set your Out Of Office message and be on your way to your Destination Reunion.
Trust me, my bags are already packed!
I formally invite you to my Virtual Reunion where you can forget the sparklers and hamburgers and feast your eyes on the The Ingredients To An Amazing Reunion.
*A special dedication to my Florida State, Zeta PC 97 Girls! Those of you who made it, we had a trip of a lifetime and those of you who didn’t, well, I know you’ll live vicariously through my documentary of the trip and hopefully make it next time! Yes, last but definitely not least, Rafa Jr. for putting this all together and Alberto for being the master of our four-day ceremony!
Location, Location, Location!
When it comes to reunions, there are so many factors to choosing the location. From the differing tastes of the many members in your group to the ease of travel and accessibility to arrive at that destination, everyone has a different take on their ideal spot. Luckily, my amazing girlfriends and I all shared a similar location goal of the beach!
The greater challenge in location hunting were the geographical locations of our group…literally touching all four corners of the United States, oh yes, and myself occasionally a resident of Spain, but I guess I don’t really count, considering that I hop back and forth across the pond as often as most people go to the movie theater in one year.
Our differing agendas of work and family commitments made it only possible for our reunion to be four days long, and we knew that we wanted to spend the maximum amount of those four days someplace warm, with a magnificent beach and preferably with minimal time in airplanes and airport connections.
We came to the decision of Riviera Maya, with the ease of a huge amount of flights into Cancun International Airport daily from all directions this was a no brainer.
Once Riviera Maya was the destination of choice, I suggested Maroma Beach, specifically knowing it was one of the most pristine beaches where we could spend our Holidays in Mexico, relatively easy to get to and from the airport, and also housed a few of the top luxury resorts in Quintana Roo.
With smiles on our faces and visions of everyone together on the beautiful white sand beaches, margaritas in hand, we all purchased our tickets and started our online chatter about the next steps…Where to stay, where to eat, what to do and what to pack?
Oh, by the way, on the packing subject, click here on my luggage for a few suggestions….
Double The Luxury, Double The Fun
As I approached the “Where to Stay” question with caution, not wanting to be the dictator of the reunion, two things came to my mind: 1. Not everybody has the same idea of a beachfront paradise and 2. I know deep down, all of my girls love a little luxury.
The search was on to find a locale that satisfied all tastes as within our group we had fans of mega resorts offering amenities galore, others who preferred chic boutique hotels with an eye for detail and even the intimacy of a private vacation home.
Settling upon the newly opened, Generations Maroma, was the easiest non decision that we all made. The property was unique in that it’s a boutique, all suite, ultra luxury all inclusive resort, super convenient to maneuver and get around, where from the door of your suite to the beach is only a 2 minute walk, not even requiring shoes, basically as it entails going downstairs, passing by the pool and stepping out onto the sand.
Being the only guests at the brand new, Generations felt more like our own private home, as we all gathered for sunset drinks in the Sunset Bar living room every evening, pretending to be Mixologists as we’d do in our own homes, and had we felt the need for our own private home, yes they have that too on property.
For the girls who desired a little more activity, ie…tequila tasting in the afternoons, beach volleyball, multiple swim up pool bars, a comprehensive gym to get their work out on and the early morning yoga…yes, I believe there were a couple of crazies who stayed up all night one night then went to the 7:00 am class, it’s all available at Generations’ “adults only” sister property, El Dorado Maroma Resort and Spa, which was just steps away.
Not one of us in the group can claim to be gourmet chefs, but our palettes for fine dining have certainly come a long way since our days of eating Mamie’s butter enhanced southern cooking in the dining room of the Zeta Tau Alpha house in Tallahassee. Those days, we were satisfied with bacon, egg and cheese croissants for breakfast to kill our hangovers, chicken fingers and fries for lunch as we ran out the door to get to class, (some of us just skipping class altogether to chat a little longer and make plans for the night out), then returning to the dining room for the pre made chicken cordon bleu, mashed potatoes and a side of carrots floating in butter, oh, and I can’t forget the sweet tea.
I knew my girls had long since stepped up their culinary and viniculture interest, evident via Facebook tags of them dining at well known chef establishments in their towns across the US as well as a previous Oregon Wine Country Reunion that we had made years back, so we were all in for an amazing treat the minute we arrived at Generations Maroma and were welcomed with champagne and fresh sushi and basically did not have one waking minute where we considered ourselves to be hungry throughout the entire stay.
With the Gourmet Inclusive plan, we had the most amazing options for dining and drinks, including a fantastic room service menu that was ordered for breakfast (the lobster omelet is a must…but not without mimosas) and late night bites the couple of nights where we nearly stayed up until sunrise (the wood oven pizzas were probably the reason we could function the next day.)
Not wanting to miss a minute of sun, we enjoyed poolside lunches from Sabores, opting for light fare of sandwiches, ceviche and just jumping in the pool for a few rounds of refreshing beverages at the swim up bar afterwards. On the couple of tropical rainy afternoons, we were able to have more lingering Mexican styled lunches, trying a variety of tacos from the fresh local ingredients and handmade tortillas, that were always accompanied with fresh guacamole and plenty of margaritas on the rocks.
At Kiyoko, the Asian fusion restaurant serving up the freshest variety of sushi, *trust me, we know, as we tried everything on the menu, the Eye of The Tiger roll was truly outstanding, as well as their unique main courses, the Malaysian yellow curry winning my top honors.
Dinner at Mio Cuccina Italiana was such a unique experience, that I had to repeat. The perfectly presented plates looking more like edible artwork were even more delicious, melting in our mouths. The lamb chops with asiago cheese risotto, the pesto gnocci and the shrimp and mussels were absolutely the stars of the night, but not without saving room for our desert platter, where we requested one of everything and the flaming Sambuca after dinner drinks.
These restaurants were so amazing that they actually motivated us to want to eat when were weren’t truly hungry, which could be trouble in the long run, but this was vacation after all and what better way to celebrate the holidays than enjoy scrumptious food and drinks with the ones you love!
The most outstanding and one of a kind gourmet experience was our Private Dinner Party that Generations butlers and staff created for us one night, beginning with a Sunset Cocktail Hour poolside then later to our own cabana over the water. In the most idyllic of settings, candle light glowing around us and the moon light reflecting off of the ocean, we spent hours savoring every last bite of our special prepared 5 course menu, wine and signature cocktails, reminiscing of our times together in college and how far we’ve all come since then. Who would have ever predicted that we’d all be sitting in such an amazing setting like this, together, years later?
Never Lift A Finger
Did I mention we received Royal Treatment during our reunion at Generations Maroma? Of course we chose this amazing destination with the intentions of not having to cook, clean or entertain during our holiday reunion, but we never expected the 24 hour butler service and someone to take care of us at our beck and call, nearly everywhere we went on property, part of their “All Butler, All Gourmet, All Inclusive” concept.
From having our own private Beach Butler, Armando, to our Main Butlers, Alberto and Daniel we had the opportunity to arrive at the resort, open our bags, grab our bikinis and head to the beach without even stopping to put our drinks down. Later, returning to our suites with everything unpacked and arranged. Ok, so I think I was the only one to take advantage of the unpacking service, more out of curiosity than anything else, because who really needs such a luxury, but I must admit, it was pretty nice!
Even though we were all traveling solo for this girl’s trip, I couldn’t help but think of my friends who had families of their own, and how ideal a service like this would be, just in an effort to get the kids prepared and down to the beach on a daily basis, Minimizing the hastle and Maximizing the beach time!
In addition to the butlers, Generations also included nanny service, which at one point during late evening drinks in our private living room aka Sunset Bar, I half expected the butler to suggest one of these nannies for a few members of our group.
Was it the game of pseudo couch surfing game that we created, perhaps reenacting *in a much more calm and lady like way, of one of our most memorable nights in college when one of us ladies took a dive through the shutters of the sorority house kitchen, or maybe it was just our loud, non-stop laughter, that captured the butler’s attention. After all, we had the whole place to ourselves, like our own home away from home, but we made sure to stay on our best behavior regardless, right? Or so we thought, as the butler never even remarked a peep to us. Total discretion, total professionalism!
By our final day there, I think we all forgot what it was like to have to move our chairs to face more direct sunlight when on the beach, to walk to a refrigerator for a refreshing beverage and to have to prepare anything at all to eat, as we were literally waited on hand and foot and it felt great! We’d developed a friendship with our amazing Butler Alberto, who even hooked up a fabulous night out in Playa del Carmen one night, so departing felt like even more salt to our wounds knowing there would be no more Alberto on the other end of our plain flights.
The Party Never Stops
One of the beauties of why we chose Generations Maroma was for the relaxation and quality time that we could all have together, but then again, who are we kidding? We are all party girls at heart, nowadays, disguised by our careers and roles within our families, our party facade plays second fiddle to being a mature adult, but it was inevitable that we’d need to have at least one night that was off the charts, just to see if we still had it in us.
This Rock Star Night was easily achievable by the nearly all day pre party that we had at the resort and a quick 15 minute ride down to Playa del Carmen, one of the hottest nightlife spots in Mexico at the moment. The close proximity to Playa gave us more options, just in case we wanted a little variety in the trip, outside of the resort.
Transitioning from resort to nightlife with such ease is so key with group travel since there are always a few who disappear back to their rooms for the night, if given any downtime from hours of party. In an effort to minimize that drop off rate of our group members, we scheduled a driver to be waiting for us right after dinner, well, after dinner drinks, with a cooler of beers and wine in his SUV, so we could be off without skipping a beat.
Thanks to Alberto, our amazing butler, we were hooked up with promoter friend of his, and now our friend Jorge, who welcomed us to Tribeca, the new, open air night club in Playa and we enjoyed our Grey Goose and soda while dancing in our own VIP section behind the DJ booth all night.
At some point, later in the night, our VIP space somehow shrunk or we outgrew it, leaving us feeling inspired to seek out a little more elbow room for dancing and finding that perfect, spacious place, atop the bar. Hmmm…on second thought, maybe it was the Grey Goose that was our inspiration!
Instant Fun, Just Add Water
When being in such close proximity to the ocean, rather, on the beach for days, staring out at the crystal clear water, this setting was absolute paradise, but in the spoiled life that we were becoming accustomed to at Generations Maroma, it could also be seen as a bit of a torture, considering we didn’t have our own seagoing vessel.
Problem solved immediately when we picked Maroma Beach as the location, as Marina Maroma is located there on the beach, right next to our resort, so we had a variety of watersports available only steps away.
We chose the most amazing sunset catamaran sail, designed for small groups, so it was intimate, luxurious, customized to us and not a single detail was forgotten.
Our sail departed a couple of hours prior to sunset, allowing us ample time to enjoy the journey out to the reef, actually jump in and snorkel around for about 40 minutes then leisurely head back, surrounded by the most awe inspiring views 360 degree, drinks in hand and delicious hors d’oeuvres to snack on while we all spread out, lounging on the trampolines, taking pictures of the sunset and enjoying the occasional splashes from the waves.
Does a reunion get any better than this? After all, we could all be sitting in someone’s backyard, around a fire pit, roasting marshmallows, drinking wine and feeling the spirit of the reunion…on second thought…Oh, why even compare!
Pampering The Stress Away
Whether we’ve all arrived stressed out from our day to day lives in different parts of the country, or the journey to get here was extra long, lines with security, delays at the airports, missed connecting flights, etc…the most important thing about enjoying the quality time of a reunion is that it’s stress free, so you can truly…Enjoy!
Of course we knew that there would be no stress of cooking, cleaning, organizing and other typical causes for headaches when partaking in a reunion, but the elimination of tension built up in our shoulders from the weight of the real world was definitely a priority.
Although we had already de-stressed via three rejuvenating nights rests engulfed in the most comfortable pillow top king sized beds and not once waking to alarms in the morning, we had wound down with days of consuming the best liquid vices we could crave, and spent nearly every waking minute filled with laughter (the best stress relief known to man), we were all still long overdue for a massage.
On our last morning, we visited Na’ay Spa at El Dorado Maroma, and were guided out in our robes to the open air, over water massage palapas to experience the ultimate in serenity, their Beachfront Sky Massage.
This blissful experience of being kneaded and stretched for an hour while the water lapped against the shore beneath us was actually so serene that I fell asleep half way through my massage *I hate when that happens!, only to wake up feeling revived and new, as if I’ve just let go of the weight of the world. Next time, I’ll drink a coffee before to try to stay awake and savor every last minute of this euphoria.
Ending our girls reunion in such a tranquil way fully completed our trip, revived our souls and prepared us to return to the real world, although we were all wishing we had another day or two left together in paradise.
When are the next Holidays arriving? Not soon enough! Any takers on a Destination Reunion in celebration of President’s Day? Hmmm…with such little time having passed since the previous get together, could we technically consider this a reunion? Let’s do it anyway!!! I’ll invent another name for the category of group travel, write another article and we’ll have our excuse to go!
Until then, I’ll just have to be content with daydreaming of leaving my mark on another beach around the world….