I love planning for trips. I may even enjoy the planning part as much as going on the actual trip. Researching secret gems and finding the best way to do as much possible in our typically compact trips brings me great joy. The only part of traveling I dislike is unpacking when we return home.
My family recently went to Cancun, Mexico for a short trip and I unfortunately discovered something I dislike more than unpacking – I ended up in the hospital in an Intensive Care Unit due to an anaphylactic reaction to aspirin and spent most of my vacation in the hospital. Instead of all the things I had planned, everything shifted within moments and I was no longer at the helm of my crew.
I’ve learned quite a few things from this experience:
Where you stay is important.
All aspects get considered when my family decides where to take a vacation. My family is both a budget and luxury traveler. Depending on the rates, the cost of flights and how badly we want to try a particular property we weigh all our options and pick where to stay. When planning our trip to Cancun, which is known for gorgeous white powder beaches, turquoise waters but also a loud rambunctious party scene, we opted for the more exclusive southern tip of the city. We picked a luxury resort called, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun . We’d seen photos online and read lots of reviews, but once we arrived we were far more enamored by the vibe of this hotel than we expected. We knew we were set up for an awesome time when concierge showed us our access to their Grand Club where we had private check-in, a lounge overlooking panoramic views of the Caribbean as well as the city of Cancun and availability to snack on delicious hors d’oeuvres every day, all day for both adults and kids. This level of service should have been an indicator of the tremendous care and compassion they showed during my family’s ordeal.
Day one we went straight for the gigantic pool. I focused on consuming non alcoholic piña coladas served in a pineapple while my daughter (6yrs old) and her father practiced snorkeling in the pool. Our plans were to take her for the first time snorkeling out to the floating dock off the hotel beach in the ocean the next day if she got the hang of it.
After a relaxing afternoon and enjoyable buffet dinner overlooking the beach at the resort, we called it a night and I popped the dreaded aspirin that took my breath away shortly afterwards.
Involve the hotel staff in your emergency.
Shortly after taking the aspirin I realized I was having an allergic reaction. Immediately my boyfriend called concierge and a private doctor was dispatched to our room within 15 minutes. This is not available at all hotels. Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun was prompt in responding to our needs, had resources on hand and helped us throughout the scary ordeal. Upon assessment by the private doctor he determined I needed to be transported to an Emergency Room immediately via ambulance. Both the private doctor and hotel discussed which hospital to transport me. They agreed the Galenia Hospital was ideal as it was close and private. Galenia turned out to be one of the nicest healthcare facilities I’ve ever been admitted to. I was definitely surprised at how excellent the care was in addition to cleanliness and expediency of service. The following morning a staff member from the hotel visited me in ICU to see if I was okay and assured me my daughter and her father would be well taken care of while I was recuperating in the hospital.
When plans change, ask the hotel for ideas.
I had an action packed itinerary for each day planned. ICU had narrow visiting hours and children weren’t allowed, so I encouraged my family to spend their time at the hotel trying to enjoy their trip while I rested. They checked in with Grand Club concierge, explained I was in the hospital, and the staff went to work putting together fun ideas for Brooklyn and her dad. They spent the morning at the pool, followed by a daddy-daughter day at their luxurious spa, Gem Spa (unbeknownst to us happens to be one of the nicest in the world). This is typically an adult spa, but they made special arrangements for them to share a room where Brooklyn indulged in a chocolate facial, mini massage and manicure, while her dad got a well deserved deep tissue massage. A six year old and a spa is a bit of an unpredictable combination. During the relaxing massage Brooklyn complained she was bored! She did much better during the chocolate facial and manicure. The spa also has a 10 step hydration therapy ritual which is one of the finest spa experiences Monte has ever had.
After the spa treatments they lunched again on property then the hotel allowed Monte to accompany Brooklyn to the kids only Coral KidZ Club since she had been through a lot seeing her mom go to the hospital. It took about 10 minutes for Brooklyn to make friends, as which point dad was able to leave her under their care and relax at the pool. Coral KidZ Club offers tons of indoor and outdoor activities and you’re guaranteed to find something your child enjoys. It caters to children between the ages of 3 – 12 yrs with areas tailored to specific age groups. Depending on your families needs you can do full day or short sessions of activities.
When booking the Grand Club, guests have unlimited complimentary access to the KidZ Club, if you book a regular suite you get four complimentary passes (morning pass, afternoon pass , all day and night camp).. Brooklyn is still talking about KidZ Club, it really is remarkable.
That evening I was moved out of ICU and into a regular hospital room, I was finally able to have a nice visit with Monte and Brooklyn.
Check out the Beach for water activities: sailing, snorkeling, jets skiing, parasailing and cruises to other islands were available off our beach.
The following morning Brooklyn blew us away with her bravery and she and her dad snorkeled out to sea to the floating dock. They had just practiced snorkeling in the pool but she was confident in her skills enough to make the swim with her dad. That afternoon while I was getting discharged from the hospital she told me all about the school of yellow fish with black stripes she saw and her first ‘big fish’ story. She says a giant white fish about two feet long swam into her arms and let her hold it. As the story has been retold the colors of the fish have changed, as has the size, so don’t swim out to this dock hoping for this magical experience…it may be extraordinarily rare.
That afternoon I had enough energy to jet ski with my family for a few minutes then finished watching them from the beautiful white beach. Later that afternoon we took a ferry, again from the property, to Isla Mujeres which is a must see. This tiny island captured my heart and I can’t wait to go back. Monte and Brooklyn snorkeled through sunset in calm warm waters. We heard a dozen languages and splashed around with families from all over the world discovering this wonderful little paradise in Mexico along with us. Brooklyn’s favorite part of Isla Mujeres, was the rental golf cart we used for a couple hours to tour around the charming island. I will savor close to my heart the ferry ride at sunset when I was well into feeling better and with my loved ones sharing a very special moment.
Reflecting back, this trip wasn’t a total disaster – but it could have been. I feel fortunate we asked for help from the right people at the right time.
- Stay at a reputable hotel, especially when traveling overseas.
- Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun has many options ranging from all-inclusive to partial-inclusive packages.
- Bring drivers license to Isla Mujeres if you want to rent a golf cart.
- Make note of local hospitals when traveling to foreign countries, especially if you don’t speak the language.
- Check with insurance company on international health coverage. I was not covered 🙁
- Consider looking into travelers insurance for pre-existing conditions.
- Bring all your typical sunscreens, hats, etc.
- There are many local restaurants and shops walkable from the hotel.
- Most places take US dollars but not all places take credit cards, particularly American Express.
- There is a lot of history in this area of Mexico and many day trips to explore ruins, underground rivers and “cenotes” (natural sinkholes you can swim in).
- You can get around not speaking Spanish but knowing a little when you leave the resort is definitely helpful.