Up next in the completely jumbled mess of wedding updates - our honeymoon! Bright and early (or dark and late?) at 5:00am the Monday after our wedding, we hopped aboard a plane en route to Mexico. We were destined for Riviera Cancun and the all-inclusive resort Secrets Maroma Beach.
|Shortly after this photo was taken, we got embarrassed by the too-cutesy luggage tags and removed them.|
You guys, I don't even know how to describe to you how amazing this place was. We went there without researching anyplace else. Highly (and by highly, she basically told us if we didn't go there she would seriously question our friendship) recommended by our well-traveled friend who had been there before, we checked it out online and through Trip Advisor, and were really pleased by what we saw. It is the #1 resort on Trip Advisor in the area, and the online reviews just rave about the place.
We booked six nights and honestly, I could have stayed at least six more.
Everything about Secrets Maroma Beach was remarkable - the incredible view from our fourth-floor room, the vibrant aqua-colored ocean, the gorgeous beach, the delectable food, the incredible staff, the fun entertainment team, the stunning room...... everything. It was sensational.
Everything the staff did for us was "a pleasure" and "an opportunity," as they said many, many times over. We felt like rock stars with the incredible service we received. Scores of food and snacks whenever we wanted, fruity drinks a'flowing, smiles around every turn.... I just can't say enough!
We arrived to our room surprised with a big "Honeymoon!" banner across our door, and flowers, champagne and goodies waiting for us as soon as we entered.
Obviously, the champagne they served us as we waited to check in simply wasn't enough. We popped the bottle in our room as soon as we walked in.
Also almost as soon as we walked in, Eric threw on the ultra-cozy Secrets slippers that he rarely took off his feet anytime we were in the room.
In the interest of saving time and not boring you with 1,000 different photos, I'll break up the rest of this post with how we spent most of our days:
This is how we spent our mornings:
Sipping coffee from the balcony in robes and slippies.
And then going to breakfast. Where we consumed more coffee (we loved the coffee there). We usually had breakfast at the buffet, which was gigantic, which made it so incredibly hard to choose what I would eat.... so I usually ate waaaaayyy too much. One thing I loved was their oatmeal. I know, I eat oatmeal nearly every morning at home for breakfast, but after overhearing another vacationer raving about the oatmeal here, I had to try it. It was unbelievable - creamy and rich, soaked in a sweet vanilla cream. I believe it was steel-cute oats, as the texture was a bit chewy - just he way I like it. I couldn't get over the oatmeal, although it was a bit rough eating it when it was already 80 degrees in the morning.
I, of course, forgot to pack sports bras (although I packed four workout outfits and my running shoes...), so I wasn't able to enjoy the gym or run on the beach while we were there, which was super sad for me. But I did join in on morning yoga a couple times during the week, which was a wonderful way to kick off the morning. Yoga outside, by the pool, in the sun. I loved it! Eric, on the other hand, made it to the gym a couple of times, where we were both in stitches over seeing this:
"Chlorophyll? More like BORE-aphyll!" We think we are hilarious.
Anyway, after exercise and breakfast, we'd usually mosey on down by the pool or beach at around 10:00 or so. We'd set up shop on one of the lounge chairs, where we'd enjoy a couple of hours of sun and relaxation. Oh, and a few of these:
And also a lot of this happened:
We lost count after a while, but on the second day Eric had consumed at least 12 pina coladas while poolside and floating. The servers just come around as you're lounging, AND the swim-up bar is nice an convenient, so it's incredibly difficult to not fill yourself on fruity, blended drinks. Though, if things got a little too sweet, it was simple enough for us to switch to this:
Wait staff would bring you any lunch you'd like from the room service menu, but we usually just grabbed a quick bite from the barefoot grill, which was set up right by the pool. They had simple cookout food, but it was so delicious. Even their burgers were phenomenal! But I usually loaded up on this:
Their fresh chips, salsa and guac were amazing. I ate so much of this throughout our trip - and I never got sick of it. Simply fresh and tasty.
After a couple hours of lounging, we would usually get involved in whatever activities were offered that day. Before we hit the pool each morning, we'd usually stop by the entertainment board to see what was scheduled for the day:
There was pool volleyball every day at noon, so that was always a blast - either to participate in, or just watch!
They also had games played in the pool like floating blackjack and pool bingo. We played pool bingo our first full day there and guess who won???
Woohoo! I won this fan, or as the entertainment crew called it, the "Mayan air conditioner." I have never felt so proud of myself.
We'd also get involved in other activities during the afternoon. A couple of times we played in the ping pong tournament over at the Sugar Reef bar.
Eric beat all the guests in the second ping pong tournament, but faced ping-pong officiando (and staff member) Elvis in the championship game. After a hard-fought game, Elvis ended up winning, but Eric was a good sport and took it in stride.
We ended up spending a lot of time at the Sugar Reef bar, because although it was open air, it kind of reminded us of being at a bar back home! Except, a bar with swings....
After the first ping pong tournament of the week, there were "cocktail lessons" held at the Sugar Reef. We thought it would be fun to sit in and learn how to make specialty cocktail, but, folks.... that is not exactly what happened. What "cocktails lessons" really turned out to be was "sit around the bar and take multiple shots lessons."
And folks. We were schooled.
We ended up meeting a bunch of people from the UK during cocktails lessons, and, I'm not sure if it was the alcohol talking, but we hit if off right away. A few of the friends we met during the lessons we ended up hanging out with for the rest of the week - going to dinners, hanging by the pool. We spent a lot of time together and they were the sweetest people (we're all Facebook friends now, so it's so nice to be able to keep in touch!)
One person we met that day who we did not spend the rest of the week with was Eugene.
Eugene is from Ireland and, folks, the Irish have a stereotype for a reason. THEY. CAN. DRINK. Eugene was truly an incredibly nice fellow who we had a blast with, but he also drank us under the table. He kept ordering shot after shot for us (I mean, they're all included, but we still treated it like an old pal was buying us drinks at the bar), and we couldn't turn them down. I have no idea how many shots we ended up taking with him, but after a couple hours, we were all feeling pretty festive.
This is not how we spent all our afternoons, but this was probably the most fun afternoon we had the entire trip. Although it did make the next morning a bit rough for us....
Anyway, sometimes in the afternoon we would switch from pool to beach. I mean, it's important to have a change of scenery, right?
The ocean was crystal clear as you swam through it, and the waters were so calm. The sand, although the sun was super strong, never got hot. It was pristine, white and gorgeous.
After we'd gotten our fill of sun, sand and water, in the late afternoon we'd usually head to our room to clean up. We'd shower quick and decided where we'd want to go to dinner (only one restaurant required reservations - for all other you could just walk right in!). We visited every restaurant except the hibachi on our stay there, and had a different kind of food every night: American grill, seafood, French, Mexican and Italian.
I didn't take a ton of pictures of our food, but it was all incredible. For an all-inclusive resort, you certainly get your money's worth of amazing food. I really loved everything, but some standouts were the sea bass from the French restaurant, the shrimp-and-avocado-stuffed chicken from the grill and the make-you-own-pasta from the Italian restaurant. The portions were perfect - we each ordered our own appetizer, entree and dessert for almost every meal and never felt overly stuffed.
The restaurants each had their own feel and were beautifully decorate. I was especially fond of these gorgeous star lanterns outside the French restaurant.
Either before or after dinner, we'd often go for a little stroll around the resort to take in the prettiness.
A few nights we were able to stay up late enough (we really were old fogies on this trip - most nights we went to bed around 9:30pm) to go out and check out some of the nighttime entertainment.
One of the nights we went to the "Rock Show," which was essentially the house band performing classic rock songs and putting on a huge spectacle. It was hilarious and incredibly entertaining.
We were so into it.
On our last night we went with our friends from England, Adam and Jackie, to the Beatles performance. It was essentially the same band doing Beatles covers. They did a pretty decent job, as well!
Other nighttime entertainment included "Secrets Idol," an American-Idol-esque show, movies in the theater and some sort of burlesque, sensual Cirque du Soleil type thing that Eric and I walked into for two minutes and walked right out.
Pretty much, day after day, what I described above is what we did. Same pattern, different day.... which was absolutely splendid for me. I could just chill out and be lazy forever. However, we did decide to leave the resort for one day to go on an excursion. We decided to go to Xel-Ha, an all-natural waterpark-type place about an hour south of the resort. We were told to go there because we wanted to go both snorkeling and dolphin swimming, and this place had the option to do both, among other run activities. We were sold!
Our shuttle bus picked us up at 7:20am and we made the trip with two couples from neighboring resorts down to Xel-Ha. Upon our arrival, we were escorted to Delphinus, which was the portion of the park where we could swim with dolphins.
We were placed in a group of six, and each group had two dolphins and a dolphin trainer. I had done some dolphin swimming while on a cruise in Jamaica, but we didn't really get a lot of "dolphin time" in that experience. Here, however, we had over 45 minutes of fun swimming with the dolphins!
It was incredible. We had so much time to do all sorts of fun poses, dances and activities with the dolphins. They even did the "foot push" with us, which is where each dolphins swims up and, by their snout, pushes you through the water, upright, like you're water skiing! It was so much fun! They also gave us two kisses, hugs, danced with us, played games and made music with us. You guys, it was excellent.
I wish I had pictures to share with you, but at $25 a photo, it was just way too expensive for us. At least we've got great memories!
After the dolphin swim we were given access to the entire park to explore for the rest of the day! We grabbed a quick bite to eat (all inclusive), and then grabbed some snorkel equipment.
Xel-Ha is kind of like a big bay right off the ocean. It's all the same ocean water, but the bay is stocked with all kinds of fantastic fish to see. Though we forgot an underwater camera, we saw some gorgeous fish - rainbow color, electric blue, tiger-striped... we even saw a string ray while we were out there!
Xel-Ha also had a natural lazy river, where we floated down on a raft enjoying the gorgeous scenery. There were big cliffs to jump off, zip lines, a rope shimmy..... so many fun things to do! We also enjoyed walking around the park (which is probably about three miles around!), taking in the freshwater cenotes (inland pools), the Mayan caves, and even took a gander at a couple of manatees.
We had a blast there, but were absolutely exhausted after all the sun, swimming and walking. We still had another hour before our shuttle would pick us up when we decided we were too tired to do anything else. So, naturally, we just decided to relax and hit the bar before our pick up time.
I was ecstatic about the fact that we could keep our snorkels as a souvenir. I'm sure the snorkeling in Lake Michigan is comparable to Mexico's.
Okay, now that I've shared most of the big things, I wanted to go over a few of the fun extras we loved about our honeymoon at Secrets Maroma Beach!
We loved our beautiful room and the huge, open sliding doors that led out to the balcony. The accommodations were magnificent. And although we thought the little soaking tub on the balcony was a nice touch, it was only used once, for about five minutes, by Eric one afternoon.
There were three kinds of creatures that inhabited the resort: black birds that swooped down the second you left your nachos unattended (jerks!!!!), tons of iguana, big and small, that sunbathed on the rocks by the pool all day, and these crazy little half-raccoon, half-monkeys whose name begins with a "C," but I can't quite remember... they are kind of cute, kind of weird, and just kind of chilled around the resort, scrounging for food.
There were little events being held all day, aside from the usual daily activities. One night there was a beach bonfire with music on the beach; another night there was a fire show; another day they had a huge fiesta where the crew came out of nowhere and began serving dozens of different kinds of appetizers to people around the pool. It was awesome! I would just grab everything they offered. And then, I turned around to see two of the waiters taking a plunge into the pool, passing out mini hamburgers to people just floating around! This, I was certain at that point, was heaven.
The relaxed atmosphere:
Nearly everyone we met that week was either on a honeymoon or an anniversary. This is a very couples-centric resort. It's not really the place for a wild group of young friends to go and party and get wild. The vibe is quiet, relaxed, chill.... but fun. I could just wallow in the relaxation forever. The nightlife wasn't "clubby," and although we did our fair share of drinking, it never got out of control. I was really thankful to have such a relaxed week to de-stress after months of wedding planning. Even Eric, who is not very good at relaxing, spent a good amount of time just lounging.
I can't say enough great things about Secrets Maroma Beach. I would recommend it to anyone at any time. It's simply stunning, first class and totally worth every penny you spend on it. We were so depressed on our last day there... we kept looking around at every just arriving, or playing by the pool, or relaxing at the beach and were just so jealous they got to spend more time there. We rocked the "End of Vacation Blues" so hard.
And then, when we got back to Milwaukee, we were met with 55-degree weather and this:
It was hard to transition back to normal life. "Raul, could I get a Miami Vice over here, please??"
If you're going on your honeymoon, looking for a place to celebrate an anniversary or just want to get away for a bit, I can't recommend Secrets Maroma Beach any higher. We are already thinking about when we can make another trip back!
It was the perfect way to end wedding planning and begin the rest of our lives together.