For years, Melissa Iacono and her best friends promised each other they would take a vacation together before the hustle & bustle of life – kids, work etc – took over. And though it was tough to coordinate multiple schedules, everything finally fell into place finally for a getaway to Riviera Maya, where they called Villa Paradise — a beachfront estate in Playa Paraiso — their own. Melissa is partial to beach getaways, having checked Cuba, Barbados and Virgin Gorda off her list, but it was her first time experiencing the rich history and vibrant culture of Mexico. Here, she looks back on her trip in 10 questions.
1. Ah! The first moment of vacation, do you have ritual?
It’s the same every time: shoes off, and straight to the beach! Even though it was dark when we arrived in Mexico, we didn’t care and ran towards the beach and dipped our toes in the water. What a feeling!
2. What was your favorite aspect of Villa Paradise?
It was ideal for a big group; the communal space is expansive and also stylish – a well-designed open concept where the breeze from the ocean would trickle in. The interior space is chic with a hint of classic Mexican flair, just what you’d want in a home right on the ocean! Although, I have to say, our favorite aspect overall was the phenomenal staff. Jorge and Sandy the property managers took care of every detail for us, like booking excursions and ensuring the home was stocked with groceries all the time.
3. If you could take one thing from the villa home with you, what would it be?
The pool on the beach. I know it’s impractical and impossible for that to happen in Montreal, but one can dream!
4. What’s the one experience in Riviera Maya a traveler can’t miss?
Definitely a trip to Chichen Itza. The architecture is mind-blowing, and the tour guides are informative which really helps bring the structures to life and allows you to get understand Mayan culture in a deeper way. After Chichen Itza, head straight for the nearby swimming hole Cenote Ik Kil (you’ll want to cool off as the ruins can get a little steamy.)
5. What was the best meal you had while you away?
On the second night, we had Anna Paula from Uxata Chef Services cook for us at the villa. She made stuffed poblano peppers and Mexican lime soup; I can safely say the lime soup was the best meal I’ve ever had while on vacation.
6. Any top vacation reads?
Not this time, I was too busy having fun!
7. Did you tick off any “bucket list” items?
I’d say the trip itself was on my bucket list. Getting away with the group of friends that I grew up with before we all have kids of our own has been a vacation to-do for a while, I’m so glad we made it happen!
8. What’s one thing you never leave home without?
My bathing suit, sunglasses and sarong. That’s all I need.
9. When you look back on this vacation in 10 years, what will stand out most?
Days of pure relaxation around the pool and at the beach with my friends.
10. Where are you off to next?
I also went to Virgin Gorda this year, and it was so beautiful I may just have to go back!