I honestly cannot believe it's been a WHOLE month since our wedding and turkey day is just on the horizon! (How excited is everyone for stuffing and cranberry sauce!?)
Less than 36 hours after the end of our ceremony, the newly-jets boarded a plane on a freezing cold Boston morning bound for Cancun!
Way too early for both makeup and completely open eyeballs.
After a half-day's travel, we landed in Cancun and promptly...stripped off our New England layers to find this:
Not half bad, eh? If you'll remember, we opted for a relaxing, all-inclusive vacation at Excellence Playa Mujeres. Playa Mujeres is a very small resort area about 25 minutes North of Cancun and was the perfect adults-only, honeymoon-lovers getaway we were looking for.
Since I base all of my personal travel on the reviews I read on TripAdvisor and from trusted friends, I thought it prove helpful for me to breakdown our trip into categories and give them a each 1-5 rating. Stick around if you're looking for some all-inclusive honeymoon fun!
TRAVEL AGENCY: 5
I worked with Global Excellence
, an American Express Travel affiliate, based in Warwick, RI and cannot speak highly enough of their services. They book all of our company's work travel, so I knew right away we'd be in good hands. As you can probably imagine, I'm quite the stickler when it comes to traveling and saving a buck - so when I spewed out my list of "must-haves" and my "will-not-pay-more-than-$" diatribe and received a positive response back, I knew I had made the right choice. We got the following included in our travel package for below our seemingly limited budget:
- 7 nights in a deluxe suite with rooftop deck and private plunge pool
- Roundtrip airfare
- Semi-private airport transfers (we only traveled with one other party both from the airport and back, not on a huge bus that made tons of stops)
- Excellence honeymoon package (champagne breakfast in bed, 2 hour hydrotherapy & massage circuit, private dinner on the beach, welcome bottle of champagne and fruit.
ACCOMMODATIONS/RESORT LOCATION: 5
A little off the beaten path, but as we cruised past the strip of resorts that were nearly on top of one another in Downtown Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it felt relieving to reach the end of a long road with double security gates to find only two resorts - both of whom are owned by Excellence Group.
I am still missing our suite complete with 4(!!) beds, a wrap around couch, fully-stocked mini bar, indoor/outdoor jacuzzi, private plunge pool, ocean views, nightly turn-down service with rose petals and the cutest towel animals, and the feeling of utter relaxation. Seriously, my most difficult decision most days was which bed to lay on. The room was clean, bright and modern - as was the entire resort. I swear, they cut the grass down there with tiny scissors or something. The grounds were beautifully manicured and always smelled like fresh flowers.
THE FOOD: 3
I wish I could give the food a higher overall score, because we certainly had some GREAT meals while we were there, but a few of the restaurants left a lot to be desired!
Here are a list of all of the resorts restaurants and our individual score for each...feel free to skip over if you don't give a hoot!
THE DRINK: 5
- Agave (Mexican): N/A -- We never actually ate here, go figure!
- Barcelona (Mediterranean): 4 -- Mr. Jet loved his huge portion of Paella and I had some of the best falafel I've ever tried!
- Basmati (Indian): 5 -- This restaurant was so good, we ate there twice! From authentic Beef Samosa to Lamb Vindaloo, they were on point with all of the complex flavors that come with Indian food. This was by far our favorite restaurant.
- Chez Isabelle (French): 3 -- For the busiest restaurant on the resort, I didn't think it was the best flavor-wise. The ambience was very romantic and warm, but the food wasn't up to our high French-loving standards. The Filet Mignon let me down a bit, but their mushroom soup brought me right back up.
- The Grill (Steakhouse/Grill): 3 -- We ate here for lunch one rainy afternoon and while my Chicken Tacos delivered some good flavor, the Calamari Nachos we started with...did not.
- Flavor Market (Tapas): 5 -- We ate here almost every night before dinner with some small shared plates. They immediately bring you out an amazing cheese and olive plate that changes daily and we dined on Mushroom Risotto, Chilled Canteloupe Soup, Seared Scallop with Rosemary - just to name a few. We'd often hit this place up with a Flirtini just before dinner.
- The Lobster House (duh.): N/A -- This is the other restaurant we didn't try. We're from New England. Not trying to be a snob or anything, but nothing beats our lobster...we couldn't even let them try. ;)
- Las Olas (beach bar): 3-4 -- This makeshift restaurant set up every day on the beach and had a different theme each afternoon. We tried the Taco Day and the Rock'N'Roll American Day. Neither were great...but neither were awful! Other days, we opted for room service or the brick oven pizza stand next door.
- Spice (Asian): 1 -- This restaurant really blew it for us. Our first night there, we felt like Asian and were sorely disappointed by fat-laden duck and a Pad Thai with a tomato(?!) sauce. Needless to say, we did not return.
- Toscana (Italian): 4 -- I had an amazing Duck and Goat Cheese flatbread here which made up for my less-than-stellar Gnocchi dish. Mr. Jet's Braised Leg of Lamb filled his tummy up good as well. Toscana also doubled as the resort's breakfast buffet which was always consistent and filling!
- Room Service: 3 -- While insanely convenient, nothing from room service blew us away. I did love that I could take advantage of eating on all 4 of our beds, in our jacuzzi tub, in our pool or even in our bathroom as I got ready.
The Jet Setters never wanted for any drink the entire week. Our Mini Bar was stocked with Jose and Smirnoff as well as local rum and soft drinks. We also visited all of the resort's bars for some pretty great cocktails and cervezas. I've heard bad things about watered-down bottom shelf cocktails at all-inclusive resorts - but we could not complain about Excellence!
Up next, I'll review our off-resort excursions!
Whenever I travel (whether it's a 3 or 15 hour flight), I always pack a carry-on. For short trips, I try to pack everything into my carry-on so I don't have to deal with the hassle of checking baggage and waiting to pick it up once I've arrived at my destination.
My favorite carry-on piece?
Amazon - Delsey Helium SuperLight Spinners 2-Wheel Trolley Tote
I have this travel piece in Purple (so cute!) and it packs so much in a very tiny space. I purchased mine at my local Marshall's a few years ago and have never been happier with a piece of luggage! It's light, easy to maneuver, and fits just about anywhere.
So, what goes into Miss Jet's carry-on, you ask?
- Google Nexus 7 Tablet & Bluetooth Keyboard (& their chargers) - This has all but replaced my laptop for work travel, it has absolutely everything I need to watch movies, play games, check and reply to e-mails, blog(!), listen to music and much more. It has built-in Wi-Fi, a mini-usb port for transferring files from my home computer, holds a great charge and is super fast. Can't say enough good things about this tablet! (Coming from an Apple user, this says a lot!)
- Amazon Kindle - I can very easily use the Kindle App on my tablet, but I cannot stand the glare that comes from reading off of a computer screen. I love my e-ink Kindle, my eyes never get tired and it holds a charge for nearly 2 months so I don't even have to carry the charger with me when I travel! Plus, it's great for beach reading in the bright sun!
- Passport/Tickets/Cell Phone/House Keys, Etc. - I always keep a travel wallet with my passport, all tickets, hotel/car reservations, cash, alternate form of ID, any credit cards I bring, my AAA card, health insurance card, and any other incidentals containing personal/travel information. I keep it in a safe place with my cell phone (and its charger!) and my house key.
- Snacks - Every airline is different, but NEVER expect to be fed on a flight, no matter how long or short!! On my flights to China - they feed us three separate times, but on my flight from Chicago to Hawaii last year, they only came around ONCE with a baggie of pretzels. Everything else they offered was sold at a very inflated price. I usually bring some trail mix, a piece of fruit, string cheese or other small snacks that fill me up and don't take up a lot of space. Word to the wise, try to avoid eating super salty foods - as they will cause bloat and swelling at high altitudes.
- Gum - This is mostly for the landing and take-off to prevent blocked ears, but sitting on a plane for any length of time is bound to do something funky to you or your neighbor's breath. If a stranger is breathing hard near you, offer them a piece. This will help you both in the long run! ;)
- Neck Pillow - A neck pillow could very easily change your life on an airplane. I use mine nearly the entire flight and move it around to prevent a stiff neck. Plus, it’s great if you’re in a window seat and can lean on it for a quick nap.
- Headphones – This one seems like a given, but I’ve nearly forgotten my headphones on a quite a few trips. I usually bring a spare pair as well, in case something happens to the first one. Instead of using those lousy airplane-provided set, plug these right into your in-flight entertainment for better sound overall.
- Magazines – I’m one of the many people who need celebrity gossip to survive and mid-air on a flight with no Wi-Fi, I still need my fix. Having a few favorite mags on a flight is a lifesaver, especially during take-off and landing when your electronics need to be switched off. I need entertainment at all times and I’ll be damned if I miss out on what Princess Kate wore last Tuesday during a stroll with the new baby king.
- Portable Medicine Cabinet – I rarely get sick while traveling, but if/when I ever do, I have to be prepared! I usually carry some Aleve, Vitamin C, Nasal Spray, Tums and Chapstick – just in case!
- A Change of Clothing – My luggage has never been lost on a trip ::knock on wood!:: but I usually carry one change of clothing in case I ever get separated from my luggage for a day or two. For my honeymoon, I’m also throwing in a bikini so we can get right to business when we arrive at the resort in case our room isn’t ready yet!
- Pen – Again, this one might seem super obvious, but for international flights when you’re required to fill out immigration information, this will come in handy just before landing. Also, a lot of in-flight magazines have Sudoku or Crossword Puzzles that will keep you occupied too.
So now you’ve got some of my best travel secrets and hopefully will surprise your SO with your crazy organized travel attire and carry-on bag! Anything I didn’t cover?
One of the reasons I chose Miss Jet Setter as my Weddingbee moniker was because my job requires me to travel quite a few times a year. I also make at least one annual trip to China, where a well-packed carry-on is essential for both my physical and mental health. How I manage to survive a 15-hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong, I’ll never truly understand. Needless to say, I’ve become very good at packing my entire life away into very small spaces to maximize efficiency and minimize the amount of “stuff” I am dragging behind me through airports all over the world. (Sidenote: Mr. Jet LOVES this quality in me, I never over pack!
Since I’m applying the same principles to packing for our Mexican Honeymoon
, I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks for the efficient traveler!
First, I’ll tackle what to wear!
When traveling, especially for long distances, it’s so important to make sure you are physically comfortable. There is nothing worse than the button of your jeans digging into your seatbelt and stomach halfway through an 8-hour flight!
Here are some of my favorite pieces to travel in: Compression Leggings
– Leggings aren’t only crazy comfortable; they are also beneficial to your circulatory system. Although I’m no medical professional, I’ve read and spoke to my doctor about the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) while traveling since I spend a lot of time on airplanes. DVT can be caused by remaining in a seated position for an extended period of time. The blood in your legs must work much harder to re-circulate itself back through your heart, so it slows down and can pool in the lower half of your body and potentially cause a clot. By wearing compression leggings (these can be found in any athletic section) and tight socks, it helps keep your blood circulating and may decrease the risk of DVT and will also cut down on leg and ankle swell (which happens to me when I fly long distances). ***Again, my advice is not professional medical advice – but you may find it worth noting and discussing with your doctor if you have concern!*** Thick, Tight Socks
– These can come in handy for the reasons I listed above, but they will also keep your feet warm on those cold, sterile airplanes. Tank Top
– I swear by the shelf-bra tanks from Express, but any tank or undershirt will be helpful for layering. We’re going from chilly Fall in Boston to warm sun in Mexico. You bet I’ll be ditching my layers once we land in Cancun! I usually wear at least one more shirt over the tank in case the plane gets really cold! Flats or Slip-On Shoes
– I always take my shoes off on the airplane to get comfortable, so it’s much easier when I don’t have to combat with shoelaces. I usually opt for sandals or casual flats. Wrap Sweater
– I have an oversized wrap sweater from Loft that I bought years ago and it’s one of my favorite pieces to travel with. It’s fashionable yet casual and big enough that I can open it up to nearly blanket sized to cover myself throughout the flight. If you are uncomfortable with using airline-provided pillows or blankets, this is a must!Next up, what to pack in your carry-on!
A rare, and very random, photo of a traveling Miss Jet sitting in front of Mr. Jet on our way to Hawaii last Fall for MOH J's wedding taken by one of our friends.
Choosing our honeymoon proved to be a very difficult task for us. While Mr. Jet and I do have very similar ideas about how we wanted to spend our honeymoon, the options seemed nearly limitless and trying to narrow me down to anything should be an Olympic sport.
We figured we should choose somewhere in the Caribbean, since it wouldn't be more than a 5-6 hour flight to most places from Boston and the weather would be really warm in October. We were a go until we realized that we're hitting the tail end of hurricane season in most of the Caribbean. Oops.
We looked at Aruba first, since they are kind of tucked into the west side of the Caribbean and rarely see hurricanes. We met with a travel agent at AAA to discuss options, but were sorely disappointed when we realized our dollar would not go very far there. The resorts we liked were way out of our price range, even for the most basic room. This was our honeymoon, we wanted to travel in style and have a view like the one above!
I went back to the proverbial drawing board (TripAdvisor) for some more tropical options where we could live like kings for a week.
Our must-haves were:
-But not too much laziness, we wanted optional excursions if we get bored
I asked Mr. Jet to pick his top two absolutes from this list and we both decided that Beach + Food = ULTIMATE. I started trolling TripAdvisor reviews and message boards to find top rated All-Inclusive resorts that actually offered good food. In the All-Inclusive world, these two things don't often go hand in hand. I stumbled upon the Excellence Group and checked out their website to get the low-down on what they offered. Their resort in Playa Mujeres jumped out as a more modern, adults-only retreat with what they consider "Gourmet" All-Inclusive. I read about 150 reviews for this resort and it seemed to really live up to its name in terms of service and value. It wasn't the cheapest resort in Mexico, but it looked like the one for us! I even read some WeddingBee reviews (as well as Pengy's recaps!) and it seemed like it would be our perfect newlywed retreat.
I checked with my company's travel agent to see if she could crunch the numbers for us, it was definitely within our budget, and see that photo above? Oh yeah, that's a two-story rooftop suite with private plunge pool! It checked off every box on our list and then some. This resort boasts 9 restaurants, 11 bars, daily activities, nightly entertainment, optional excursions, only a half-hour from Cancun, a nice (but small, I hear) stretch of beach and 24-hour room service. We are taking a chance hitting the tail end of hurricane season, but mid-October seems to be fairly safe according to the seasonal reviews I read. ::fingers crossed!:: To be on the safe side, we bought travel insurance through my company's travel agent so we weren't SOL come October.
We'll be spending 7 glorious nights in paradise, drinking things out of pineapples and eating so much we'll need to purchase extra seats to get home.
Anyone else heading to the Caribbean for their post-wedding getaway??