My Transat Experience

My family has never been on a real legit vacation…ever. We (and by we, I mean my parents:) have a cottage in PEI, which I’ve been going to since birth and adore more than any single place in the universe, but, it’s not really a vacation when we go there…I thought it was…but then I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, with Air Transat, and well…now I know what a vacation is.

#experiencetransat, air transat, christine dovey, mexico, karisma experience The week of our lives began with a preview of Air Transat’s Southern Destination options, of which there are many! After careful review, we selected Riviera Maya, Mexico and the Azul Fives Resort…we wanted a place that would accommodate our large and I guess, slightly un-conventional family, with four kids ranging in age from 22-3. As we would soon find out, the Azul Fives could not have been a more perfect choice.

And once all was planned and arranged, the departure day for the trip of our lifetime arrived and we were off.

Because we set up the kids with Air Transat’s Kids Club, and took advantage ofAir Transat’s Option Plus, we were off to such a great start. The kids of LOVED getting their ticket badges in the mail before the flight as well as all the treats they got while on board..us grown ups LOVED the priority check-in, great seats, and complimentary pillow, blanket, champagne and snacks…especially the champagne;)

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As someone who doesn’t necessarily love flying (thanks to the crazy hormonal thing that happens once you have children and henceforth become afraid of way too many things lol,) I was delighted to discover how smooth a ride a nice large aircraft delivers…I’m used to the prop plane/1-2 hour jaunts that jiggle you around like a kid high on life in a bouncy castle, so consider this cat a long ride/big plane convert;) I also loved how surprisingly short a trip it is to get from snow and ice to the most perfect, non-humid wonderful heat I’ve ever experienced.

Once we arrived, a shuttle bus was waiting for us so we loaded up and after a quick drive to our resort, found ourselves standing in front of doors to what can only be described as heaven on earth…Azul Fives Resort, by Karisma

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I can’t really, adequately sum up how incredible this place is/was…as someone who has never before experienced an all-inclusive resort, to start off that whole thing with a gourmet inclusive experience has quite simply, ruined me for life. As part of their Famili Collection, Air Transat has curated a portfolio of five-star resorts that ‘blend fine cuisine, deluxe spas and exclusive privileges, that are havens of relaxation and pure bliss.’ Truly, I couldn’t have said it better myself…that’s what they are.

Exclusive to Transat, the Azul Fives was perfect for us. We had a ground level condo that had two totally separate apartments within. In the main area, we had a full size kitchen, a dining area with full bar (like really a full bar…as in one you’d go to to buy a drink…only everything on it was complimentary and there for the taking…whenever you wanted…in your room,) a living area and master bedroom with full ensuite. And of course the most important part, giant sliding doors that led out to our own little backyard with patio, grass and a view of one of the many pools that intertwine so beautifully between the hotel complexes. In the other apartment, there was a bedroom with two queens and a bathroom…the kids had their space and we had ours…perfect.

As part of the Luxury All-Inclusive Collection, we were also treated to our own personal butler (we actually had two and I loved them both to all the ends of all the earths,) who made dinner reservations, escorted us (in a golf cart no less…kids LOVED that) to wherever we wanted to go on the resort, arranged beach services, made sure the fridge/bar were filled, helped with adventure package organization, checked-in multiple times/day to make sure we had everything we needed, and generally just made sure we wanted for nothing while we were there. And at every single step, made sure to say, ‘it’s my pleasure.’ whenever we made any kind of request…and the most amazing thing was, you could always tell that he (they) actually meant it.

While there, it felt like every person we met was genuinely enjoying in the happiness we were experiencing…it was my favourite part of the trip. We all felt so welcomed, which was so incredibly good for the soul. Walking in flip flops with less cares in the world than I can remember feeling in a long time..saying ‘Ola’ to everyone you passed and getting a happy smile in return each and every time…drink in hand…kids skipping happily in front of you…warm sun on your face…it was bliss…pure and simple…bliss.

What the resort and trip as a whole seemed to do, was make anything that could possible get in the way of real time with your people, disappear. Everything is done with the soul, far-reaching goal of giving you a chance to re-change, relax and enjoy…enjoy long minutes and long hours that fade into the next without you noticing…enjoy the total lack of needing to be somewhere other than where you are…enjoy watching your kids not being on their ipads but instead frolicking in a pool until their skin wrinkles and then staying in for an hour after that…enjoy not having to cook or clean or schedule a play-date or make sure homework is done or the kids are in bed on time…enjoy not having to think about hats, mits and snowsuits…enjoy adventure…enjoy relaxation…enjoy each other.

And though the very best part was having a solid/undistracted week with our full 6, part of what was so amazing was also being able to spend time individually and in different kids/grown up combos…hubby and I even got to squeeze in three date nights…in one week lol…we basically blew a year quota in 7 days…this was all thanks to:

  1. Our 22 year old…having a child who is a grown up, has so many perks…she’s way more fun than us, has more energy, and is super quick/has eyes like a hawk…there’s no one I’d trust my little kids more with so being able to split into groups, with her watching some, while we watched the others, was mucho beuno.
  2. What really made grown-up and kid alone time possible, was the super fantabulous on-resort Kids Club…

air transat mexico christine dovey azul fives karisma experience gourmet inclusive
…this place was EVERYTHING!!!! With a full schedule of hourly activities, all day/every day, we could pick and choose and take the kids any time they wanted, without having to reserve ahead etc. So if one wanted to pop in and try their hand at making a pinata or joining a dance party, off we’d go. If all of them wanted to join the movie night from 6:30-8:30, off they went, and out to dinner with grown ups only we went. It was perfect. And the people who worked there and were simply the best…enthusiastic, helpful, and clearly so happy to be caring for our kids. We were genuienly sad to say goodbye to the staff when we left because it honestly felt like our kids had for real bonded with each and every one of them.

Kids Club = ALL OF THE VERY BEST VACATION THINGS

So yes…flight, great…resort…great…and then there was Mexico as a whole, and whoa, did we ever fall hard…the culture…the geography…the architecture…and most importantly, the people…love all around.

As part of our trip, Air Transat helped us organize a few excursions…they have an office at the resort that can guide you through planning day trips to so many incredible locations in the area. After looking at all the options, we decided on a full day adventure with Alltournative (who were PS, so good,) to two of the most memorable places we have ever been…Cinote Maya and the temples at Ek Balam…

air transat mexico christine dovey azul fives karisma experience gourmet inclusive

There really aren’t words to describe this day. After a 2 hour drive though Mayan villages and Mexican countryside, we arrived first at the temples and spent time just wandering around, completely mesmerized by our surroundings. I admittedly had a small mommy panic attach watching the kids walk down the I don’t know…500 stone stairs that reached…I don’t know, 100 feet in height…without any sort of hand rail…was um…terrifying. I may or may not have hidden in the woods and had my 10 year old (who didn’t scale the building,) relay progress messages of how the others were doing making it down the steps. Other than that, it was totally and utterly incredible.

After the temples, we made our way through more villages to Cinote Maya…here we got to experience a real Mayan ceremony and then the bestest part…we got to swim in the Cinote…two of our kids repelled the 75′ into the natural cave pool, while the rest of us took the steps…what we all did was swim in the dark, incredible water and experience total and utter magic…it was weirdly spiritual…just totally overwhelming in its specialness.

And once all the adventure was done, we sat down and enjoyed a lunch cooked by local villagers that was soooooooooooo delicious…then back on the bus and home just in time to relax a little more and pass out from all of our adventure fun.

A few days later, we ventured off to El Dorado Maroma for a morning of water fun. We took a beautiful catarman out to sea and then then my oldest and I jumped off the side, for a little snorkeling fun. We had hoped the little ones could join as well but it was a windy day and the waves were just a bit too much for their small bodies lol…we all loved the boat ride though and the views from the sea of camels walking the beach (who knew that Mexico had camels!) and beautiful white sand beach (the sand at this beach was legit like flour…I’ve never seen or felt anything like it).

Our two adventure days were both ones we’ll never forget…ever. Together, we got to experience places, scenes and moments unlike ones we’ve ever before…memorable in all the ways.

Memorable in all the ways really sums up our trip as a whole…it was everything we had dreamed of in all of our years of ‘one day we’ll take a really amazing family vacation’ dreaming. It sounds cheezy to say but I truly think it changed us for the better…we saw a world and a place very different from where we live, in a great many ways…but what we also really saw, is how we’re all so much more similar than we are different and how important it is for us parents, to invest in showing our children that the little bubble we live in isn’t the world. We want them to see more…learn more…do more…more than we’ve been doing. This trip showed us the joy in that. It might mean that we spend less of stuff…spend less on hour house…spend less on the day to day.  Maybe it means that we tuck a little away every month so that we can do a trip like this once a year…not sure…it means something though…something worth changing things for. And for that, we as a family, will be forever grateful to Mexico, Air Transat and the Azul Fives resort.

xx

I’m Back With a Vaca Photo Bomb

After WAY too much driving these past few days, we’re officially home from vacation.
Unfortunately, my phone crapped out while we were away so my pictures are few and far between- turns out that relying on your husband to capture life’s important events isn’t the best strategy:(
Anyhoo…I do have some thanks to being able to steal other people’s on FB and the like.
Many of these vacation ones are from my Instagram feed so if you follow there, sorry for the redux…
Our trip started with a 13 hour drive on day one thanks to absolutely NO hotel rooms being available anywhere in a 800 km radius- absolutely nutzoid…thankfully, we finally found one room in Edmundston, NB- unfortunately, it only had one bed and there was only once cot left in the place so with the 5 of us, this is what happened…
…good memory making time for surezies.
Day two of driving was quick since we pulled such a long haul on numero uno…we were in good spirits…
Once we hit the Confederation Bridge, which is PS, the longest bridge over ice covered water in the WORLD (and no it’s not ice covered most of the time…Canada doesn’t mean the North Pole)…
…I was pretty ecstatic because I knew this heaven…
…was just around the corner.
My fam jam and I enjoyed 1.5 weeks of much relaxing and kid funning…
…Daddy and Jasper spent alot of time in the hammock.
Malcolm found his new happy place on that bungy thing…was doing flips and aerials by his second time on the thing…might have a gymnast on my hands, which would be weird because we seem to have passed on zero athletic prowess to our kids in general…Scarlett not so much re: bunging…
…or rolling around in giant heat bubbles either…
…though I really don’t blame her on that front.
Grampa was their favourite beach/lbbster dinner eating partner.
Daddy was resourceful in his methods for being able to relax and drink with babes in tow.
We got a total of one family shot.

Kids got their amusement park fill for the year.
And aside from one incident where my little red found herself in a bumper boat and unable to steer and get herself back to the dock, which PS, created one ginormous panic attack for both her, us and my parents, the trip was amazingly special for all  of us…such good family time.
I miss this place already…
The trip back was a little hectic but no less packed with memory making.
On Thursday, we left PEI, boarded the ferry…
…which PS, the boys clearly got a giant charge out of…

{Scarlett wasn’t quite so enamored…she appreciated the kids play area though, where she had fun telling the bunch of little kids that seemed to surround her what to do/play etc.;}
…and drove up to Sydney, NS for some sight seeing- 

…but sadly, the most comfortable bed I’ve ever had the privilege of lying in was put to shame when babes wanted to party most of the night:(  

Our view there though was incredible and worth the trip alone.
As was the fact that my new most favourite white wine ever was offered up at their restaurant at a super duper great price…
…the stuff is like wine candy people- so yummers.
On Friday, we dove down to Beddeck (which is one of the most charming little seaside towns I’ve ever been too) to…

 …to celebrate the wedding of my cousin Peter (he’s actually my second cousin or 1st once removed…never sure how that works…my family is teensy and because I only have 1 actual cousin, Peter and his sister Erin have always been cousins in our books) and his lovely new wife Lori…
…the setting was beyond gorgeous- so so pretty.
While there, we also got to meet my other cousin Erin’s (Peter’s sister) brand spanking new baby Jack…
…and he is SO precious!  
Seeing a newborn again, well you know what that did…baby numero 5 for the win perhaps…not likely but this girl can dream;)
On a side note, Beddeck also gave me my newest obsession…
…aka this ceramic, clip-less curling iron…basically, you use the glove that comes with it to wrap your hair around the barrel…it’s SO quick and easy to use and gives my hair the perfect natural little wave I’m always after…
…lurv it.
We left Beddeck on Sunday morning and did another 13 hour leg to arrive just outside of Quebec City…we ended up staying at a gorgeous hotel that had this super duper fun restaurant that the kids got a giant charge out of…
{Ignore gross me…that’s what happens after 13 hours in a car with no shower}
…the dinner pod was interesting to be sure…changed colours every minute of so…kids lurved it…baby no so much.
We woke up the next morning and headed to Montreal…sadly, while away, my daughter’s grandfather passed away.  We were so saddened by the news but were so thankful that the funeral was held on Monday so that we could attend on our way back home…
…Natasha’s family has always been so incredibly kind and gracious to me so I was honoured to be able to there and celebrate the life of her granddad…from my short visits with him over the past 8 years, I was able to enjoy many amazing conversations and insights…such a true gentleman who will be very very missed.
Though we were only in Montreal for a few hours, it helped me remember how much I love it there…so so pretty…
…I made a mental note that a trip there with more time is long over-due…this rug shop alone convinced me a return voyage is necessary…
Pretty, pretty.
The trip back from Montreal was a long one because of weather, traffic and construction…we didn’t get home until after midnight and were up the next morning at the crack of dawn for something very very special.
Because it deserves its own post, I’ll leave yesterdays events for tomorrow’s post…here’s a little teaser though…
…amazing, amazing.
Again, more on all that news tomorrow.
For now, I’ll sign off because this post has morphed into a very long photo-bomb and kids are inquiring about breakfast and such.

Oh but before I go…my dear friend Tim just posted a tour of my house as part of his…

…series.

I’m so so honoured that he chose my home to feature and by his incredibly kind words- he’s just the sweetest ever.

Click HERE to read his review:)))

And with that, I’ll say byes for now.

Missed you all and happy to be back.
xo

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