When my oldest daughter was just nine months old, we took a last minute trip to Mexico. It was a bit of a spontaneous trip, marked by an open week on the calendar and a desperate need for some rest and sunshine during a rainy spring in Seattle. We were still new parents, weary from the sleepless nights and daily intensity of managing the schedule of an infant. Mexico has always been a place of rest and relaxation for us and embarking on planning our first trip to Mexico with kids felt overwhelming. If you are planning your first trip to Mexico with kids, the good news is that hotels are now rolling out the red carpet for families. Your biggest challenge will be deciding where to stay. My most important piece of advice when deciding on a Mexico resort with an infant or young child? The hotel room you choose matters. You will spend more time in your room than you may prefer, so choose wisely. Here are four things to consider when selecting a Mexico family friendly hotel with your new family.
1. Connecting rooms or suites. Traveling with kids, especially young children who still require frequent naps and early bed times, means you will be spending A LOT of time in your room. Look for hotels that have connecting rooms and suites and give you a little more room to spread out. The last place you want to be on your Mexico vacation is sitting in a dark hotel bathroom at 8:00 pm, sipping a warm beer while your little one sleeps. Can’t splurge for an connecting room, or the penthouse suite? For years when our kids were little, we’d pay a little bit extra for a hotel room with a spacious balcony and an ocean view so we could enjoy the sunshine during naptime and have a place to hang out in our room after dark.
2. Look for certified kid friendly hotels. I typically start my hotel search asking friends and fellow travel experts where they have stayed with their kids. Then I do my own homework, read reviews and look for hotels that have developed specific criteria with family travelers in mind. The Preferred Family program from Preferred Hotel Group has designed a specific criteria to ensure all hotels in their collection of more than 200 family-friendly, luxury boutique hotels meet Preferred Family Certification standards based on their age-specific offerings for children in five categories: hotel amenities, facilities, programs, services, and entertainment. On a recent search for Mexico hotels, I was able to sort my search by family amenities, services and programs that best suit our family’s current needs and ages of our kids.
3. Kids clubs and babysitting services. The fastest way to find a kid friendly hotel is if it has babysitting services and a kids club. Not all babysitting services and kids clubs are created equal. When our kids were little, we didn’t feel comfortable with leaving them with babysitters, however I have lots of friends who have had amazing babysitting experiences at hotel resorts, giving them a chance to step out for a quick dinner alone. For hotel kids club, be sure to check how old they need to be to participate in kids clubs, what activites are available and what your kids will be doing while you are gone. With a four year gap between our kids, it is hard to ensure that both age groups will be served equally, so be sure to ask how they tailor activities to meet the specific needs of your child.
4. Identify hotel amenities by age group. As our kids have grown, our needs from a resort hotel have also changed. When they were babies, we looked for essentials such as shaded cabanas poolside, babysitting services, cribs and in-room high chairs for frequenty baby meals. As toddlers and preschoolers, our hotel criteria included a pool with a shallow splash area on a beach that was safe for little ones. Now, our kids are 10 and 6 and are bigger and more active, we need more space and we prefer booking hotels with kitchenettes or kitchens to save on meals. Our kids are also now both old enough for most resort kids clubs, so we look for a fun and engaging kids program, and the cool factor of the pool is also an important factor.
The Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort and Spa
One Preferred Family Certified hotel that I have my eye on for our next family trip to Mexico is the Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort and Spa. This five star luxury hotel boasts an impressive list of family amenities, and sits on Médano Beach, one of the most swimmable beaches in Cabo just outside of downtown Cabo San Lucas. Casa Dorada also has a large selection of connecting rooms and family friendly suites, some with full kitchens. At the time of this post, the Casa Dora is also offering a “kids stay and eat free” offer, for a maximum of two kids per room, 12 years old and under with two paying adults. (Travel must be booked by August 31, 2014 for travel between July 1 through September 30, 2014).
Scoring upgrades and perks for travel with kids: Sometimes it is about the little things when traveling with kids. A chilled bottle of wine awaiting your arrival after a long flight with a baby, a room upgrade, free wifi or the option of a late check out to hang out by the pool waiting for a late flight home. When we travel, I always sign up for hotel rewards programs because you never know when your membership will come in handy. Preferred Hotel Group’s new iPrefer loyalty program offers some great benefits in Mexico and more than 200 other Preferred Family Certified properties.
Looking for more inspiration for your travel firsts with kids? My fellow Preferred Family Travel bloggers are always dishing great advice to get you started. Amie O’Shaugnessey provides tips for organizing your first Europe family itinerary and Colleen Lanin shares some of her favorite picks for finding a resort with a delicious family friendly pool.
Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Preferred Hotel Group. Hip Travel Mama was compensated to write this article. As always, the opinions expressed here are our own.