“Mom, can we go back to Finest?” It’s a request quipped by my children (and grandchildren) most often during busy, stressful days. It’s like that old Calgon bubble bath commercial: A woman slips into a steaming bath tub to wash away her purportedly frenzied day. “Calgon, take me away,” she says — cue calming music and the sense that tranquility will ensue. For our clan, Finest Playa Mujeres has become that portal to imagined escape from the realities of routine. It’s the family metaphor for “let’s chillax in another dimension.”
An easy to reach paradise in the Mexican Caribbean, Finest Playa Mujeres isn’t the cherry blossoms in Japan, a trek to Machu Picchu or your first glimpse of The David in Florence. Finest isn’t a bucket-list, once-in-a-lifetime stay at all. It’s a place you’re likely to visit again and again. (We’ve visited four times, in fact.). An all-inclusive resort on a lesser traveled portion of the Riviera Maya intoned with local culture, it exceeds expectations. Delivering oodles of fun and certain relaxation, it provides you the tools to create whatever fantasy holiday you can dream up. I like to think of it as a year-round summer camp for families — but couples love it just as much.
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If you haven’t experienced an all-inclusive with the brood, you may wonder: What are the advantages? First of all, as the name suggests, one price encompasses nearly everything during your stay — most pointedly food, drinks, your room and activities. That means no heart pumping sticker shock when you study your credit card statement after the trip. That’s huge, as we can all attest. (Note: I’ve found all-inclusive stays infinitely helpful when traveling with teenagers, whose many talents range from the ability to devour a year’s supply of food at any one meal to the tendency to always want to go against the grain and do their own thing.)
With myriad activity options and plentiful places to eat, everybody can be satisfied at once as they explore on their terms, coming together at intervals in blissful family togetherness. You’ll be amazed to see your children (and yourself) more likely to try new things from the array of possibilities. With activities for all ages, including kid’s clubs, water sports, fitness classes and evening shows, nobody gets bored. Finally, the plethora of dining choices mean that everyone can find something they’d like to nosh at any given hour— and as much or as little as they like. Read: No family fights about whether to do pizza, lobster tails or enchiladas. It can all happen at once.
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But not every all-inclusive will do. Finest Playa Mujeres feels remote and festive, edged between a verdant wetlands wildlife preserve and a gin-clear sea. Design-centric, all-suite, with airy Santorini-white buildings, it flaunts 10 swimming pools, an eye-popping kid’s club, a cutting-edge fitness center, a spa, 11 restaurants, 15 bars, 14 Jacuzzis, tennis courts, nightly shows and beach equipment galore. Its long bone-white beach seems rendered from a stock photo. You could be there now, sipping a spicy margarita and looking for turtles.
What we love:
- The food is upmarket. Restaurants range from a taco trailer to a Spanish tapas bodega to an exclusive theatrical Japanese teppanyaki experience. Look for the Mexican specialities at breakfast, and be sure to order the housemade green and red salsas.
- Bars abound. Premium wine and liquor are part of the deal. Not only is there a buzzy martini bar indoors, but also a poolside drinking hole that blends up green juices and immune boosting mocktails. among other options.
- The gigantic suites sport huge terraces and two-person-wide Jacuzzi tubs.
- Affable, attentive, well-trained staff are a plus.
- Amazing amenities for those traveling with babies. Think: cribs, baby monitors, bottle sterilizers, house-made baby food/puree, baby bath tubs and more.
- The huge, uniquely kitted-out kid’s club with wading pools stretches for some 27,000 square feet.
- Lobby-located daycare for kids at breakfast and dinner time allows parents some alone time, if desired.
- Indigenously inspired spa treatments (for an additional cost) in a gorgeous spa.
- Twenty-four-hour room service is part of the “free” deal.
Need to know:
- While any package or room at Finest will delight, I suggest upgrading to Finest Club level, which offers a range of benefits, such as private concierge, early check-in, late check-out, access to more exclusive areas at the beach and certain restaurants, among other things.
- Finest Playa Mujeres is very family friendly. But adults traveling alone (such as honeymooners) may prefer to stay in the section known as The Excellence Club, which is adults-only and offers some special “big people” amenities.
- Weddings are popular at Finest, and the resort’s highly skilled and enthusiastic staff facilitate the experience, both at their dedicated gazebo and on the beach.
- Outings off property, such as scuba diving and visits to the pyramids, can be arranged by the able concierge for an additional charge.
- Choose a package that includes transportation from the airport.
- An on-site medical clinic adds a sense of security.
- The Finest Playa Mujeres has made COVID testing to return to the United States a seamless chore. They schedule your test to coordinate with your flight and provide fast results.
- The resort gets high marks for impressive COVID protocols.
Room to book:
Every room is oversized and luxurious. Families will enjoy the Pool Family Suite, while romantic vacationers may want to splurge on the two-story signature, rooftop Finest Club Imperial Suite with plunge pool.