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I literally just got home from Mexico – ¡hola a los Estados Unidos! There is oh so much work waiting for me now (only downside of being your own boss – no one is there to take over when you’re “on vacation”), but TBH all I really wanna do is watch Bachelor in Paradise + snuggle my kitties. Even tho we’re home now, Instagram is going to keep on keepin’ on with Mexico fun justbecause it’s summer and why the heck not. So for all intents + purposes, I’m still at the beach with a margarita in my hand. MK? MK. 😉
Third time’s a charm (Trip #1: Our Honeymoon, Trip #2: This Golden Globes press trip)! J and I wanted to do something special for our upcoming first wedding anniversary (How has a year flown by already?!? HOW.), and we wanted to do something special in advance for my rents as they approach their 30th (bless)! SO, we figured…why not take them WITH us to celebrate??? Neither one had ever left the country, and my dad hadn’t been on a plane in a solid two decades (and my mom hadn’t since this trip). Growing up, we had gone to good ol’ Ocean City, Maryland for, like, 7 years straight and that was pretty much it! They had never seen anything like the resorts that we had been lucky enough to check out before. One of my goals/dreams in life is to just take my parents traveling everywhere – not only do I just feel so insanely grateful to them for so stinkin’ much, but they also just make good travel buddies. 🙂
SO, here’s a yuuuuuuuge photo diary roundup of sorts recapping our trip to Mexico, at the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya.
P.S. FYI, all of my swimsuit/outfit details are discussed + linked under their respective pics! If you’ve got any Q’s at all on sizing etc, feel free to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’m more than happy to help a sistah out. 🙂 ALSO, all of these swimsuits have boob padding. Relevant, since I know I for one HATE when a swimsuit doesn’t have some sort of pad there…just me? HA. Let’s dive in.
Upon arrival in Mexico, we grabbed margaritas at the Cancun airport (cos duh) and headed to our resort – we stayed at the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya. It’s a totally gorgeous adults-only all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, about 20-25 minutes from the Cancun airport. We checked in + checked out the place from there! Every day was pretty much structured as half-beach, half-pool. We’d wake up + grab breakfast (room service – which is INCLUDED at an all-inclusive!!! – or breakfast buffet), then head to the beach or the pool and vice versa on the next day.
We JUST missed Tropical Storm Franklin – it stopped raining the day before we touched down – but we saw some of the aftermath in the sea.
This first pic of me a few down here…all of that darkish green brown in the water…that’s SEAWEED. A straight up WALL of seaweed. Normally the water is gorgeous light blue (which you’ll see a few pics down), so this much seaweed was nuts! We ended up hanging poolside more than beachside overall cos the seaweed made it totally impossible to swim in the Sea on some days. Peeling off a wet swimsuit after swimming in that much seaweed is equal parts hilarious + alarming, namely cos a whole kelp forest comes out.
“The Superman” = Strawberry daiquiri, Piña colada, Blue curaçao (YUM)
Red Scallop Bikini (c/o – LoveloveLOVE this suit! It fits so well, is ultra flattering, + stays in PLACE – bless. This is a bikini you could actually move around in, which is always a concern of mine if I’m trying to, oh yannno, actually swim. HA. Comes in red + orange AND it’s only $16! I’m wearing size M) // Navy Monokini Swimsuit (c/o – only $15 + also comes in burgundy!) // Pink Sunglasses (old from Forever 21 – similar here)
Day 2, we kicked off with breakfast on the balcony. Something to note: the Valentin Imperial is situated right amongst the jungle. Which is SO FRIGGIN’ COOL from a nature perspective, but also terrifying from a bugs perspective. Bring bugspray!!!! Even tho we were applying + reapplying regularly, we all got eaten alive. Womp. This first morning was awesome tho. I was working on some emails and a cuppa coffee, when all of a sudden, coatis started appearing ERRRRR’WHERE in the trees right around the balcony. (Didja catch the chaos on my Instastories when it happened??) Thanks to y’all via Instastories, we ID’d them as coatis – basically, a Mexican raccoon monkey. Our driver coming into the resort said to beware of them – supposedly they’re not the friendliest? – but I was so surprised at how many of ya have encountered them on your own trips around the world! I’m not kidding, yo…they were ALLLLLL up in the trees. I think there might’ve been 10-15 at one point…adults, babies, the whole shebang. It was clearly breakfast, and they were clearly hungry. And I was clearly living for it. HA.
We got situated then to just hang out at the beach + pool on and off. It. Was. GLORIOUS.
Only not-so-glorious aspect of the trip…sunburn.
I’m Italian, so I tan pretty well, but apparently I also burn REALLY well. This familia was not accustomed to being so close to the Equator, and we all got a *wee* bit crispy…even with applying + reapplying SPF 50 every few hours. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN. Hot damn (pun intended), the sun is hot. So once we got to the 3rd day in the sun onwards, we were all feelin’ the heat.
On this night, there was a CIRCUS SHOW. Y’all. One of my all-time favorite things about all-inclusive resorts is when they have a super active entertainment team on staff that plans the most amazing shows at nighttime. We had that on our honeymoon, I had that at Secrets, AND we had it here. #blessed.
The Circus Show was epic – everything from insane hula hooping to walking up poles.
Black one-piece (c/o – OB.SESSED. I sized up to a L – size up more if you’re more #blessed in the boob department) // Watermelon hat (similar here – code BTS to get 20% off, here, here) // Pink Sunglasses (similar here)
On our honeymoon, J and I went a bit overboard with excursions. Neither one of us had ever been to Mexico or on anything close to the kind of excursions they had available, so we pulled a carpe diem and just did errrr’thaaang. No regrets. BUT. It was definitely exhausting (+ hella expensive). This time around, we figured we’d narrow it down to one excursion. My parents really wanted to do the swimming-with-dolphins excursion, and seeing as that’s one of my favorite things on God’s green Earth, we were all for it. Fun fact: I actually wanted to be a marine biologist for the longest time, specifically so that I could be a dolphin trainer. They’re my favorite animal and I’m just so insanely fascinated by their intelligence, so being able to be with them in the Caribbean Sea was/is a total dream.
The day started at 7:30 am with the ride out. The excursion started then with a catamaran ride out in the Caribbean and snorkeling in the coral reefs. Basically, you boat out for awhile, then stop the boat, put on a life jacket + flippers, grab a mask, and jump off the boat into the sea. We snorkeled around for a bit, got back on the boat with Tequila Sunrises, and rode back to dock.
After we docked…time for dolphins! I’m super bummed I couldn’t get pictures of this – they don’t let you take phones/cameras in since they try to upsell ya on the professional picture packages – but it. was. awesome. I was giddy like a teenybopper at a Justin Bieber concert, NBD.
After an hour with dolphins, we had half an hour with sea lions and half an hour with manatees.
Sidenote, shoutout to all of the trainers at Dolphin Discovery – y’all are MVPs. The trainers were all so insanely intelligent + knowledgeable about the animals, + obviously cared for them so well. I, for one, had no clue how hilarious sea lions are. Fun fact: dolphins communicate/learn via hand signals + whistles. Sea lions, tho, can learn to understand words! The trainer could say “Smile!” “Kiss!” “Shame!” and the sea lion would smile, give a kiss to whoever was nearby, and cover it’s eyes in bashful “shame.” Also…they legit roar.
The manatees were one of the biggest surprises to me. Being an ocean nerd, I went in knowing a few facts about ’em – they’re called the cows of the sea, they’re super gentle, yadda yadda yadda. What I did NOT know: they are SUPER FRIENDLY. Holy moly. We went into the sea area with 8 manatees and about 52 heads of romaine lettuce. The trainers just gave us all lettuce and said feed it to them one piece at a time.
Next thing ya know, there were 3 manatees RIGHT ON YA. These babies weigh one ton and *could* swim faster than a dolphin if scared (insanely fast), but here they come and literally grab your leg with their fins up front and hold you in place so that they could eat lettuce from your hand. INSANITY.
We couldn’t stop laughing…these friggin’ ONE TON creatures are pushing us up against the wall and holding us down so they could eat salad. Kinda like how I go after pizza on a Friday night. 😉
Once we got back around 3-ish, we head to the beach + go ready for dinner. Another favorite thing about all-inclusives – the restaurants! The Valentin Imperial has 7 restaurants to choose from, as well as buffets, snack bars, + room service. You KNOW we room serviced wings + French Fries and watched Bridesmaids in our fancy schmancy robes on Saturday night.
Related Post: How to afford a luxury vacation (at your DREAM place!)
Day 4 was a pool day – and they had water zumba + a foam party! It felt like something straight outta Spring Breakers – at one point, there was about 3 FEET of bubbles on top of the pool.
The nighttime entertainment was a fire show. How people can walk around twirling + juggling + dancing with flaming rods of FIRE is beyond me.
After all of the above, we got some jacuzzi time…since rooms have their own jacuzzi hot tubs inside. And they delivered chocolate-covered strawberries + champagne. WHAT. BLESS.
Navy cheeky One-Piece (OBSESSED with this suit – my favorite from the trip! It’s made so well, is a super flattering fit, + just is a total confidence piece. I’m in size S – it’s 30% off right now + selling out fast, but it restocked frequently (I bought mine on a restock). 🙂 )
At this point, we were pretty pooped. Also burnt. So we opted for chillin’ at a smaller pool for a more relaxed, shaded vibe. The Valentin Imperial has a huge main pool with fountains, swim up bars, volleyball nets, jacuzzis, etc., and then they’ve got a more private, lazy-river-esque pool AND a smaller pool right next to the big one.
This night was “Mexican night,” and the resort set up the most AMAZING spread of authentic Mexican cuisine, coupled with traditional song, dance, + mariachi. Really, the entire staff of the Valentin Imperial is incredible. They go all out for every. single. event.
Relaxed morning at the breakfast buffet with homemade crepes + extra mimosas before heading home.
Make sure you’re following along on Instagram…there’s a fun giveaway coming up soon involving something in this pic! 😉
“Wifey” tee (old – similar here and here) // Leggings (c/o) // Nike’s (super similar model since mine are old) // Suitcase (Mine is a London Fog that I got on clearance at Burlington for $50, but there’s another version with black + toffee here. It’s a near-exact dupe for this popular model! More on clearance here and here, and carry-on on clearance here) // Floral duffel bag also available here = it’s a new print for fall 2017!
Have you ever been to the Valentin Imperial? Have you been to Mexico/the Riviera Maya?
I would LOVELOVELOVE to hear your recommendations if you’ve ever stayed in the area…or if you’ve stayed anywhere at all tropical + wonderful, I wanna hear that, too! Anywhere you’d recommend checking out? Anywhere you’d recommend avoiding? Drop ’em all in a comment below, if ya would. This girl could already go for another vacay….!
P.S. I get asked a ton about packing do’s + don’t’s…this post sums it all up for ya! Even if you don’t have a tropical getaway on the calendar just yet, I’d recommend pinning the post for later, just in case. 😉