Stay Awhile: Great Family Escapes in Mexico

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Rates start at $122 pp per night dbl through the end of the year.

sierra lago resort & spa This one’s a different kind of waterfront beauty—a pastoral retreat by the Juanacatlan Lagoon located between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, near the village of Mascota. This all-inclusive, five-star hideaway consists of a main house and 21 cabanas decked out in rustic Mexican touches, with clawfoot tubs and views of the lagoon and the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Here, clients can enjoy an old-school vacation of pedal boating, sailing or catch-and-release freshwater fishing for carp or large-mouth bass on the lagoon, or enjoy the countryside on horseback. The wide-open spaces around Sierra Lago call for long walks, with swans and peacocks strutting by and apple and peach trees for shady siestas, and there’s also a game room with a pool table and board games. During lunch at La Terraza on the main terrace, guests might witness a charro performance with Spanish horses and traditional tunes. Adults might also want to spend some time at the spa and outdoor jacuzzi or enjoying some home-brewed tequila in the evenings.

Sierra Lago can also arrange for tours of Mascota, home to a few museums and the eerily named and never finished Church of the Holy Blood, which enjoys a Roman arch for an entrance and a neoclassical altarpiece. The entire area is fun to explore, and there’s always the added treat of a visit to Guadalajara, just 2.5 hours away.

Rates start at $363 pp per night dbl for a standard cabana, including meals and non-motorized water gear; kids 3 and under stay free.

fairmont acapulco princess If clients can’t bear to leave their doggy behind when they go abroad, then by all means point them to the Fairmont Acapulco Princess, which has special amenities for the furrier “kids.” Fresh off a Summer Junior Camp at the Ochoa Golf Academy, the resort is now knee-deep in baby turtles. Its turtle release program runs through early December and is a favorite among all ages, allowing guests the opportunity to learn about the protected creatures raised in the Fairmont’s own turtle farm. Kids get a special diploma acknowledging their preservation efforts.

The resort also has a supervised kids club for ages 4-11 offering everything from miniature golf to painting lessons, bingo to water polo, baking cookies to movie and beach time. Children are also invited to attend the resort’s Chocolate Festivals or go the Xbox and Nintendo Cube route on lazy afternoons. They can also celebrate their birthdays in Mexican fashion, complete with a piñata. There are also five free-form pools to enjoy, including a “tropical river” pool.

The Fairmont’s Bed & Breakfast package includes accommodations and daily buffet breakfast and starts at $208 per night through Dec. 19 with a minimum 2-night stay. Two children 17 and under can stay free in the same room; if they’re over 6, they pay a nominal fee for breakfast. This Fairmont also offers a Day of the Week Discount, with 12 percent off a stay on Monday or Tuesday night, good for a family of four and valid throughout the year.

barcelo maya palace deluxe This is everyone’s one-stop shop for all-out family fun in the Riviera Maya and a place that both kids and adults will absolutely love, with water tricycles, kayaking, giant chess sets and mini-golf, plus more than a mile of Caribbean beachfront. The younger set get to choose from quite a few gigantic pools with countercurrents plus water parks—including one right by the Palace Deluxe—with lots of slides and water creatures spouting water. The Barcy Club for ages 4-12 lets children enjoy mini-bowling and sandcastle building, while a Teens Club for the older bunch comes with table tennis, video games and pool tables—plus there are special Teen Nights at the Barcelo nightclubs a few times a week. Barcelo pays close attention to the wants of their most finicky guests, for which there’s a special kids’ corner at their buffet restaurants with pizzas, burgers, fries and other yummies they won’t wrinkle their noses at. Another fun aspect of the complex is the cute train that takes guests along the expansive Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, which includes four other lesser-priced Barcelo hotels as well as dozens of dining options and tennis, basketball and multi-sports courts.