What to look for when planning a multigenerational vacation

Multi-generational travel can be tricky.

How to you find a way, the means and, most of all, the perfect place to take toddlers, preschoolers, young adults and grandparents with everyone having a great time?

We came up with an answer last month when my husband, eldest daughter, her husband and their two kids headed to the Iberostar Paraiso Beach on the Riviera Maya in Mexico for a week of relaxation.

While I cannot call every moment of a full week with a 3- and 4-year-old “totally relaxing,” I can tell you that the resort was the perfect spot for our escape.

The combination of easy access, bright and big rooms, a multi-faceted pool and beach area, great food and lots of entertainment, made our week easy to fill with great memories.

The idyllic, yet family friendly The Iberostar Paraiso Beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

We flew to Cancun direct from Boston — direct flights are perfect with kids along.

A shuttle arranged through the hotel brought us to the property and back; we chose the shared ride to save money.

Iberostar is all-inclusive, and while sometimes that can mean scaled-down food and not-so-great amenities, that’s not the case here.

They have enough “reservation” restaurants with table service that you can’t possibly visit them all in just a week’s time. When we checked in, the concierge helped us choose our dining destinations and times and set that all up.

We loved the French and Mexican restaurants; our very favorite was the hibachi spot (top notch!).

Daily water aerobics classes in the pool at The Iberostar Paraiso Beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico are just one of the resort’s fun features. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

The resort won’t let you book a reservation for every night (they have multiple buffet choices that are walk-in), but we found that using their app, we could score last-minute reservations on nights we did not have one.

We also found a little secret: Their “Rock” restaurant, a kind of spin on Hard Rock Cafe, for some reason gets less attention. We walked in on a night when all other spots were jammed and were seated immediately — and the meal and setting was great. Visit it when you go.

Daytime, we set up poolside and bounced back and forth from the beach to the pool. The ocean water was super rough, so the beach was mostly for dipping in toes and building sandcastles. It’s beautiful.

Our rooms were walking distance from it all, making it easy to zip the kids back for a nap when need be. The rooms are bit dated; they could use an upgrade on their bedding and AC, but we spent so little time in them, it was fine.

The thing that made it stand out, for me, was the staff. The place is huge, and yet by the third day, many waitstaff and entertainers knew our grandkids by name. Anything we asked for was brought to us with a smile.

There’s entertainment activities for tots at the The Iberostar Paraiso Beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico, as well as pooltime fun. And close access to rooms means a nap is always nearby. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

And the entertainment — which is woven into each day and then featured each night — was fantastic. I did a daily water aerobics class in the pool and the leaders were fun and entertaining. There’s always something going on: soccer kick competitions, water volleyball, songs and more.

At night, there are live shows that the kids loved, with a few stages to choose from. Friday night it was beachside, with fire dancers and then dancing under twinkling lights and the stars as the waves crashed in the background.

Mexico has no COVID entry requirements, but currently, the US does for return. Iberostar has testing on site. It wasn’t a smooth process, so bring some patience and set aside time — and see the concierge to plan this ahead of time. But we got our results and were able to head home with the proper paperwork.

The resort has plenty of offsite activities — day trips into towns, daylong sailing or snorkeling excursions and visits to history sites are just a few. But we chose to stay close to our vacation home.

There was tennis, golf, a spa and more. There are little local shops where the girls could get henna tattoos, and plenty of ways to have fun.

The combination of easy, all-inclusive and upscale is just right for family escapes.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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