We try to do a Henderson family trip every couple of years but it’s been a while since our last one. That was Disney World in 2010. The family has grown significantly since then and it’s becoming more and more of a production to find a date that works for everyone let alone all the logistics to actually get us there.
This year the destination was Mexico and there were 40 of us. Quinn and Max, the two youngest babies, were the only family members that didn’t come along.
We left Saturday morning and flew into Puerto Vallarta. The flight there went better than I could have hoped. Sloan has never had her own seat before. She doesn’t turn two for one more month, so technically she could have flown as a lap child, but we were SO grateful we didn’t go that route. We lugged the car seat onto the plane and it was the most relaxing flight we have ever had with her in tow.
We arrived and all boarded our bus to the resort. Yes – we needed to rent a legit bus to transport us all along with all of our luggage. Luckily Sloan took a little afternoon nap on the bus ride and was refreshed once we rolled in. The resort was located in Punta Mita – a new place that Zach and I had never been to in Mexico. Upon arrival the staff had little good bags for each child – and in Sloan’s good bag was a package of mini marshmallows. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
We didn’t waste any time. As soon as we checked into our room we were in our swim suits and on our way out to the lazy river. There were several buildings that made up the resort and ours was called Oasis, because it was on an island surrounded by the lazy river. We couldn’t have had a better room, location wise. Just a few yards away from our door was a staircase down into the river.
It was perfect for Sloan. Not too fast paced and almost completely shaded by palm trees.
Most nights we had reservations for dinner, but our first night was a “free night”. We had room service back at our place after our laps around the lazy river and it was actually really great.
Most of the time I don’t get wooed by customer service, but at this place they had me smitten. We had requested a crib for Sloan and they went all out. She had her name spelled out in sponges (great bath toys) in the bed along with a plush turtle, baby insect repellent, shampoo and conditioner, wipes, regular diapers, and swim diapers. They even brought in a diaper Genie and left a basket for her with some chocolate milk and cookies with her name spelled out on them. She gasped each time she saw something new they had left out for her.
After dinner we tucked Sloan into her bed and Zach and I stayed up late catching up on shows (and sporting events).
Every time we go on a vacation Zach and I always make the same agreement. This one was no different. We made a wager that I got to work out each morning at the hotel gym and Zach got to surf every day. Since I don’t work out on Sundays, I took a day off from the gym and we spent the morning at the resort’s infinity pool.
We swam until lunch time. We found a shady spot with a great view and grubbed as we watched the ocean. Sloan was in heaven. We all were, really. Besides – kids ate for free at the resort. So Sloan had the culinary world at her fingertips – or at least all that the hotel had to offer.
After Sloan’s nap we ventured out again to the Lazy River. Sloan was settling in nicely to this little routine we had started.
We had a dinner reservation at Bahia later that evening with a gorgeous view of the beach. Another amazing thing about the resort was that you could order any beverage for a toddler – and even ask for a sippy cup! They were completely set up for young kids, which was such a huge perk for Sloan.
After dinner the three of us made our way down to the beach before returning back to our room.
It got dark fast after the sun went down – so we made our way back to our room.
The next morning I hit up the hotel gym while Sloan got breakfast delivered to the room. Remember, kids ate free…so she had deluxe service each morning. Besides, she never finished all of her bacon, so Zach had to help her with that. It was extremely humid and the gym really wore me out. After a run on the treadmill I returned back to the room. We got dressed in our suits, grabbed Sloan’s life jacket, and made our way back down to the beach to do some surfing.
All three of us went out and I “attempted” to push them into waves, but I wasn’t doing a very good job. Zach managed with Sloan on his own when I was out too far and couldn’t touch the bottom any longer. That’s me, in the background, not succeeding at my task whatsoever…
Sloan loved it. She wasn’t scared or nervous at all. Just happy to be doing something different and exciting.
After being out in the ocean for a while we rested on the beach and ordered some drinks.
We decided to head back to the infinity pool to meet up with the majority of the rest of our family.
After Sloan’s nap we did some laps around the lazy river until it was time to get ready for dinner. We ate at a different restaurant near the pool and it was all very delicious.
You would think that Sloan’s favorite part of the trip would have been surfing or the Lazy River. Truth be told – we believe it was the golf carts. Since the resort was so spread out, you could call a golf cart to come and pick you up and take you to wherever you needed to go. Sloan was in heaven riding to a fro on the golf carts and could have done it all day every day if we would have let her.
We stopped and got some dessert at the Gelato Shack after dinner.
After dinner we changed back into our swimwear and we went back down to the beach. We found these pods hanging from the steel beams underneath the infinity pool and Sloan loved crawling around inside of them.
She would have ran full speed into the waves if we would have let her. She has no fear whatsoever and it scares ME to death.
We stayed until it was time for bed. By the end of each night, Sloan was absolutely exhausted and slept so well throughout the whole trip.
We continued our ritual each day, and every day being at the gym never got easier. I attempted BBG in the 78 degree gym and nearly drowned in my own sweat. The employees inside the gym were even wearing LONG SLEEVED JACKETS! I could barely breath let alone exercise in that temperature and they were jolly as could be in winter clothing…
We attempted surfing again with Sloan and she loved it even more the second time around. She stayed out with Zach in the surf for almost 45 minutes while I watched panicking from the shore. She even barrel-rolled off the board a few times and it didn’t even phase her. She even lost her binki at one point out in the ocean. As soon as she found it, though, she wanted back on the board. She took out her binki and shoved it down deep in her life jacket so if she fell again she wouldn’t lose it. She is an adrenaline junkie for sure!
I love that she was splashing her hand in the ocean, just content as ever.
After our surf session we went back to the infinity pool for lunch.
We stayed until nap time and once Sloan was snoozing inside in the air-conditioning, we took the monitor out by the Lazy River and enjoyed some time together.
That night was a free night. Since we didn’t have a reservation, we took a taxi to the next resort over to try a restaurant there. We ate at the Sea Breeze at the St. Regis and we had the BEST shrimp tacos I’ve ever tasted. With homemade tortillas and some sort of avocado sauce that tasted like guacamole mixed with crack cocaine. Just kidding. But really, it was amazing. Sloan got a PB&J (toasted) and fruit and sat contently the entire meal.
The next day we had family pictures scheduled. We lounged at the pool, hit up the lazy river, and then met everyone else down at the beach. Thank goodness for the golf carts, or we would have been sweating before we had even arrived…
Sloan wasn’t thrilled about the heat [it was 90 degrees and felt like 90 percent humidity] and we all were a bit fussy. I died when I saw this first photo…
Luckily for the majority of the rest of the photos, Sloan was happy.
Ok…not these two. But I’ll take what I can get.
After our photo session was all done, we had a beach dinner scheduled. I’ve never eaten dinner with my toes in the sand. It was wonderful and it was much needed and relaxing after all the stress of family pictures.
They had a live guitarist playing and they even set up a fire pit for s’mores afterwards.
Sloan and I went back to the room when she started to fall asleep in her high chair [that some sweet waiter carted all the way down through the sand to our table – bless him!] and I got her all ready for bed.
The next day we had no plans other than our little routine. I had stopped at the resort’s boutique gift shop to get Zach and I some sodas when I saw the Flamingo floaty. It was one of those things you just can’t pass up.
Sloan spent the rest of the day floating in Felicia (named by Lori) with a sippy cup and fruit snacks.
We had dinner that night all together at the resort’s Asian restaurant – which was our favorite of all of the meals we had there. Afterwards we all went down to the beach. We were scheduled to release some baby sea turtles into the ocean. Each family got their own box and the staff told us all about the process and why it’s so important not to interfere and to be extra soft and gentle with the turtles. I was amazed at how brave Sloan was with those little wiggly things. She insisted on holding them herself – but wasn’t very gentle in “releasing” them. It was more like tossing them. Let’s hope a few of ours survived and didn’t suffer from blunt force trauma.
It was my favorite night of the trip. Afterwards we walked up and down the beach with Sloan and my sister-in-law caught some great photos of us (thank you Siri). The sunsets were like this each night – bright and bold. The sky was so orange, which made the ocean look even more blue.
The next day was our last full day. I went to the gym and on my way, spotted the infinity pool completely deserted. It was beautiful.
Later, Zach and his brothers tried their hand at the water power board and Zach loved it.
It was a free night for dinner – so we decided to go back to the Asian restaurant for a second round. Sloan even had her very first brownie sundae for dessert and refused to let them take the plate – even when there was nothing but melted ice cream and chocolate sauce left over. We perused the gift shops afterwards and Sloan touched everything within her reach.
We kept telling Sloan it was our last day and that tomorrow we would be going home. She wasn’t thrilled about the idea, and spent the last evening cuddled up in our bed with us.
Saturday Zach did a little morning surf session and I went on a run. We all showered up, ordered room service for lunch, and then packed our bags to go home. Our whole crew boarded the bus and were off to the airport in pretty good time. We were worried because our drive to the airport took a lot longer than expected. Luckily security in Mexico is a lot different than in the US. We were through their TSA in less than 5 minutes. The flight went a lot faster than I expected also and Sloan did pretty good considering she skipped nap time and her dinner was technically 6 different types of snacks I had packed in my carry on. Once we arrived back home, customs went pretty quickly as well. We were really blessed, considering our large party, how smoothly everything went. All thanks to Gina’s meticulous planning and us hustling our butts to and fro to make things happen.
We love being with the Hendersons. We always have the best time and make some amazing memories. One of my favorite things to watch is Sloan’s cousins and how they interact with her. They are all so sweet and playful with her. She doesn’t know it yet – but she is SO lucky to have 25+ other cousins to grow up with. Our future family vacations will only get busier and louder, but honestly…that’s part of the joy in it. Thank you Mark and Jeanene for another wonderful time together, we love you!