We sat down with Brian Ehlers, Sr. Manager at Travel Impressions, to chat about why Mexico and the Caribbean are the perfect vacation destinations for families.
Q:Which destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean do you recommend for family vacations?
Where wouldn’t I recommend!? There are so many options in those regions, and the selection of family-friendly all-inclusive resorts makes it a no-brainer to look at this area first. Then, it’s a matter of personal preference.
I love Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun by Karisma for its blend of luxury and fun in easily accessible Riviera Maya. They have their own branded kids’ programs that the little ones go nuts for—which is helpful since both also have plenty of relaxing amenities that adults will want to enjoy on their own!
But if you want to enjoy as many programs as possible as a family, there’s no beating Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana, another Karisma property … unless you go to Atlantis, Paradise Island, in the Bahamas. As destination resorts go, there’s no end of things to do.
On the other hand, if you have older kids and are looking to spend quality time with them without any distractions, Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres is my pick.
Q:What excursions are best for families with children versus families with teenagers?
That’s a great question, and you’d be surprised at the overlap. There are a lot of kids’ activities that are suitable for both, as well as places where you can tailor what you do to your age group. For example, in Mexico, the original Xcaret park has activities for all ages, from an aquarium even toddlers can ogle at to snorkeling and shark-feeding. Aruba is a great snorkeling destination, and in Punta Cana, Dolphin Island is an experience you can never be too young or too old for. Additionally, Atlantis, Paradise Island offers their own encounters as part of their appeal as the world’s largest open-air marine habitat. They also have an aquarium that wows every age, plus a 141-acre water park called Aquaventure with rides for the older kids and splash pools, protected coves, and lazy rivers for the younger ones.
But if you want to keep kids among kids and teens among teens, I suggest the Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm for the former, and action adventure activities like snorkeling, ziplining at any of the Xcaret theme parks or in Punta Cana, or a 4x4 jungle tour in Dominican Republic for the latter.
Q:Do you have any recommendations for summer vacations versus winter vacations in Mexico and the Caribbean?
To me, it’s always a good time of year to visit Mexico and the Caribbean. But of course, there are best times. Aruba is known as a perennially sunny, dry, breezy destination year-round, but it gets the most traffic from April to August.
In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where my earlier suggestions are located, December through April are the dry seasons, which means less chance of rain. The peak season for the Bahamas also follows suit.
Finally, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is most popular from March through May.
Q:What’s one thing families shouldn’t miss in both Mexico and the Caribbean?
It’s so hard to name just one thing! But based on the places I’ve recommended, I can start with a few things:
It’s important to understand the culture and history of the destination you visit, which is why a family visit to Mexico should include a tour of the many Mayan ruins in the area. It’s an enriching experience that puts into perspective the amount of respect we should have for the civilizations that came before us.
Even older: the coral reefs. I highly recommend a day trip to Cozumel for legendary snorkeling at the biggest barrier reef on this side of the world. Animal encounters like baby sea turtle releases are also amazing if you happen to be there toward late August when they typically hatch.
For a more guaranteed animal encounter, horseback riding in Aruba and their ostrich farms are really fun—just about as unusual and unmissable as Arikok National Park. Along those lines, Punta Cana, Manati Park and Dolphin Island, which I mentioned before, are fantastic chances to get up close and personal with marine life.
In the Bahamas, at Atlantis, Paradise Island, you’ll obviously want to spend a lot of time in the enormous Aquaventure water park when you’re not looking at all of the marine habitats. You’ll miss out if you skip the iconic Mayan Temple’s Leap of Faith slide. And don’t forget to check out the beach—there are five long miles of it, which is something easy to forget when the property has so much watery action going on already! Also, visit the casino — you might even go home with enough money to come back!
Q:What makes a Travel Impressions vacation unique?
Travel Impressions offers a global selection of upscale options and pairs it with excellent customer service your travel advisor relies on to ensure you have the best experience. In addition to the number of Ensemble-exclusive amenities offered by various hotel partners, we now offer Partner Privileges that provide travelers with experiences and added values you won’t find outside of our family of brands. We have exclusive agreements with select suppliers that no vacationer can get without one of our partner travel advisors — your advocates.