Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole that is reading Amazon reviews? Let’s say you want a new coffee maker and do a quick search on Amazon. Nothing fancy, just something above the entry-level model. Before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and you’ve read 500+ reviews of of two different types of coffee makers, and then suddenly a reviewer mentions a third coffee maker they like more and you’re off to the races searching for reviews of THAT coffee pot. Then you think, “Why am I so lazy that I am not hand brewing my own coffee every morning? Why am I not doing pour-over coffee? Am I not a 30-something living in an urban area? I should get a Chemex! Where do they sell those? Willaims-Sonoma? I think I have a gift card!”
And then on and on.
There must be something in my personality that is especially prone to this kind of decision fatigue because it took me two hours last fall to order a neti pot. A neti pot!
That’s kind of how Mike and I ended up at the Valentin Imperial Maya last June.
I spent weeks comparing reviews of resorts in Mexico’s Riviera Maya on Trip Advisor. If you think Amazon reviews of $30 coffeemakers are bad, try $2,000 international week-long vacations. Each time I narrowed it down to a resort, I’d see another one that sounded good, too. Or, I’d think I finally found the one, then I’d read one more review saying the pool sucked or the orange juice was not fresh and I’d change my mind.
Here were our requirements:
- Restaurant on the beach or directly adjacent
- Swim-up bar
The Valentin in Riviera Maya had everything, but so did about 500 other resorts–you would be amazed how many there are in the Maya Riviera! The tension built up until I finally just booked the Valentin. The reviews are universally positive and even if it didn’t live up to my expectations, it’s an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, how bad could it be? The pool was gorgeous, the food was decent, and the grounds of the Valentin were lush and well-maintained. Plus, we loved that the resort was big enough that we could go for very long walks. We never felt “hemmed in” which is something I was worried about.
All in all, I think I made the right call, but getting there was slightly torturous. This year I am changing my tactics and going with an expert to make the decision. Mike and I narrowed it down to the Dominican Republic and put the decision-making in the hands of my awesome friend Heather Cross who recently started a travel agency. Heather is an experienced traveler (we actually traveled to Italy together in 2007) and foodie so I trust her recommendations completely, and she’s also super organized. If you’re thinking about traveling in the future, check out her website. Using an agent is no cost to you and may save you a huge amount of time, and in my case, some sanity!
I narrowed down the location, gave Heather my list of must-haves and budget, and she provided me with three options. So much more manageable than 500 resort reviews.
It rained 5.5 out of the 6 days we were there. Walking on the beach was not pleasant, so most people in the resort waited out the rain in the pool huddling around the swim up bar. Mike stayed as close to the volleyball net as possible in case someone wanted to play.
The frizziest of frizzy hair ever. Up against the Mexican jungle, my typical “vacation hair” tricks didn’t work either.
We named all of the lizards. Hello, Ralph.
The most popular drink at the swim up bar: The Superman.
This trip was right after I found out I had to cut out dairy, eggs and gluten to figure out where my horrendous allergies were coming from so this was the “last hurrah”. The omelet station at the breakfast buffet, and the sushi restaurant at dinner were by far the best food options.
Valentin Imperial Maya
Carretera Federal 307 Chetumal Puerto Juarez Km.
311 +500, Playa del Secreto
Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Read about our latest Caribbean adventure here: A week at Breathless Punta Cana2