We were looking for a warm-weather getaway and although we are usually the couple that likes to be touring around, now with a baby, we thought we’d check out the all-inclusive resort experience.
Verdict: All-inclusives are AMAZING with a baby! Do it. Do it. Do it.
How to get there
Puerto Vallarta is an easy, 4-hour direct flight from the Bay Area. After having taken a few longer trips, the 4 hours felt like a joy. That said, it was our first flight since Juliette had decided she wants to move and eat everything, so we were entertaining 100% of the time.
When it was time for her to nap, I bounced her in the back galley near the flight attendants and walked her up and down the aisle in the carrier. Good thing that Juliette is a charmer because we made lots of friends on our walk! I must have walked a lot because on our return flight when I once again walked up and down the aisles, people stopped us to say hello saying they remembered us from the original flight.
Where to stay
Justin, the champion deal hunter, found an amazing rate at an all-inclusive called the Hyatt Ziva just South of the city. It was in a little inlet so the resort had a private beach. The hotel has two big buildings of rooms on either end of the resort. It has a few different pools, five restaurants and several bars. We were there a week, barely left the resort and it was not too much time! And clearly, Juliette loved it!
Choosing a room
We chose one of the larger rooms which had a seating area where we put her crib at night. It also worked well to have that space as a nursing and changing area. The real bonus for us was that we had a balcony with a jacuzzi tub. At night we would put Juliette to sleep and then since we couldn’t leave the room, we went out to the jacuzzi. This was especially awesome one night during a thunderstorm. We learned after our first trip that having a comfortable room makes a huge difference since we spend so much time there. It was worth the slight increase to have this space.
For the last two nights, the hotel offered us a promotion on an upgrade to a two-floor penthouse suite with private balcony pool. So Justin surprised me and booked that. I thought we had to pack and move because of plumbing issues in our room (annoying) only to go to this luxury (okay, cool). It really was the ultimate luxury and made for even more convenient nap time lounging and swimming for the two of us.
Benefits of an all-inclusive
An all-inclusive experience makes things so easy when traveling with a baby. Everything is on site so we never had to worry about transportation and having so much food on demand provides a ton of flexibility. It also is great to have a gym, pool, restaurants and entertainment all a close walk away.
Justin and I took turns going out to relax or workout while Juliette slept. Our first few days we both went to the gym but then we realized that nap time when you’re minutes from the beach was way too valuable so we quickly ditched that plan and started using our relaxation time to lounge at the pool or dip in the ocean.
It was also awesome to relax with Juliette. She LOVED the pool and we spent a lot of time relaxing with her there — this inflatable floaty with sun canopy was our best friend. It was great watching her experience sand for the first time.
And seeing some local wildlife!
It was a pleasant surprise to have so many restaurant options onsite. It kept things fresh for us and they were all super family friendly. We had our little meal kit (gallon ziplock with a bib, a few spoons, wipes, suction toy and rattles, some baby food). We threw that in the bottom of the stroller and went off for some great food.
Let’s talk about sleep
There are products, sleep tips and luck.
- Products. Our two fav travel sleep products are the Snooze Shade which keeps her crib area dark and our travel white noise machine. During the day, we’d either put her crib in the bathroom (so dark!) or the living room of our room. Her bathroom naps could go 3 hours. That darkness was incredible (although it meant we had to sneak in quietly if we needed to use it). We also brought our own crib sheet and her regular sleep sacks, to mimic her sleep routine at home as much as possible.
- Sleep tips. Puerto Vallarta is two hours ahead of San Francisco. We decided to keep her on SF time and put her to bed between 9:00-10:00pm local time. This was the best for us because it meant we could take her to dinner and even see some of the evening entertainment before heading up to bed. And since she slept ~11 hours/night, we would all get to sleep in and wake up to a delightful child around 8:00 or 9:00am. It was the best sleep I have had since she was born.
- Luck. Every kid is different. Juliette slept like a champ in Mexico (8 months old and 2 hour time difference) but woke up early in the Caribbean (9 months old and 3 hour time difference) and then slept great in Boston (10 months old and 3 hour time difference). So…you can recreate home-like conditions, give the baby a “tour” of the new space before bed, stick to some kind of routine (kind of) and cross your fingers. At the end of the day you’ll be back on your regular schedule when you’re home.
And with all that play (and food), Juliette also took some great naps out and about!
What to pack
- Supplies. We didn’t want to go shop for supplies while there so we brought all of our own diapers and wipes as well as baby food. This made things super easy for us. We also brought a small pack of laundry detergent for stains or washing out clothes in the sink and a small bottle of dish soap to wash bottles and spoons which we soaked in the ice bucket.
- For the pool. We contemplated brining a sun tent and sand toys but we were glad we left them at home. There were plenty of umbrellas on the beach and near the pool, and Juliette could play with a cup and love it. We did bring this inflatable floaty with sun canopy which is our absolute favorite and we love lending it to friend. Juliette loved floating and kicking around in it, it saved our arms from having to hold her and provided sun protection. It also folds up very small for easy travel. Since using it for the first time on this trip, we then brought it with us to the Caribbean. It is amazing! Don’t forget sunglasses and sunhat. That sunhat provides great SPF protection and dries quickly.
- For food. Juliette had started eating solid food and was mostly having purees at the time of this trip. We considered giving her food from the resort, but instead brought jars of baby food for her. It was peace of mind for us that she wouldn’t have any stomach issues with anything new. In retrospect, we should have brought pouches instead of jars — they were so heavy, what were we thinking?
- For meals. We brought two bibs, lots of spoons and her baby food. Most importantly, we also brought a suction toy leash that we stuck to her high chairs and attached different toys to. This was so helpful in keeping her entertained for quite a while at restaurants while we at.
Overall this was an epically relaxing trip and it was such a great age to travel with her. We highly recommend the all-inclusive experience for families with little ones. And don’t forget to take time for yourself!