The Time I Won the Vacation Lottery - The Lap of Luxury at the Dreams Riviera Cancun
The story goes like this - I was heading to Guatemala for Christmas last year to do some charity work. I had booked the flight home from Guatemala to Canada on Aeroplan points, but there were no points options available from Canada to Guatemala.
I quickly discovered that a one way ticket to Guatemala in December was extremely expensive. It was about $800 CAD. And since Mexico is on a vacation route, I could fly to Mexico, stay in Mexico for a few days and hop a commuter plane to Guatemala for about the same price. It's basically free vacation, right?
You see, I'm a planner. It helps a lot in my job to be so structured with all the travel I do, but to be completely honest, it drives everyone else in my life nuts. I'm the type of person that has a full travel schedule planned 6 months in advance. Hotels, flights, trains, drivers, meetings, meals... the works, meticulously planned. I'm the friend that gets annoyed with you for being 5 minutes late for dinner. It's a bit of a problem, if I'm to be honest. I'm a bit cray, I won't lie.
So obviously when September rolled around and I hadn't routed my way to Guatemala for December, it was a concern. I started to monitor 5 star (because I'm worth it!) resort prices at 2 hour intervals, daily.
As you probably know, resort prices are usually based on double occupancy, so going alone is more expensive.
And then the heavens opened up and the world spun in my favour.
I found a mistake pricing on Air Canada Vacations. For those of you not in the know, a mistake pricing is when a company accidently prices something extremely incorrectly online, and the onus is on you to book it before they notice it and take it down!
I booked a one week, all inclusive package at Dreams Riviera Cancun 5 star resort with a room upgrade that included a Club Room, my own private pool and an indoor Jacuzzi and an outdoor Jacuzzi for one person for $429 CAD ($326 USD) total, for the whole week. As of this moment, that same package is retailing on Air Canada Vacations for $3554 CAD. Then, instead of paying the $429 + $20 airport transfer, I used 59 000 Aeroplan points and didn't pay a dime. Within an hour, the price was removed from the website. Hot tip: If you log into Air Canada Vacations from your Aeroplan account, you can use your Aeroplan points toward vacation packages, if you wish. Be warned, flights are still usually the best bang-for-your-buck.
The week was amazing! I had previously stayed at a 5 star resort in Jamaica and wasn't super impressed with what the words "5 Star" seemed to mean to them. Dreams Riviera Cancun got it right! The service was amazing, the food was great and you didn't need to fight for dinner reservations! Top shelf booze was flowing from the heavens free-of-charge! I spent my days going from the beach, to the pool bar, to my own personal pool. The wait staff even came by my own personal pool to deliver cocktails to me every 30 minutes! To be honest, I didn't drink that much, even though it was free. You see Captain No-Fun (aka me) likes to play it safe when I'm in foreign countries alone, and I like to keep my wits about me!
It was a family resort, which at first I wasn't pleased about. I'm not 100% kid friendly. But the more I thought about it, the safer it felt. I was not going to meet men. And I was not going to drink my face off. I just wanted to have a relaxing vacation and refresh. As it turned out, the nice, friendly family atmosphere was very conducive to that.
The bars offered top shelf tequilas and champagne on order, all included in the room rate. The resort was beautiful, modern and clean. The staff were very respectful and friendly. In my last resort experience, I was horrified by some of the lewd comments the male staff would make to female guests.
The restaurants did not require reservations. The food was above average for a resort. There were various themed restaurants; French, Mexican, seafood, steakhouse and a great poolside snack bar that served traditional pub fare throughout the day.
Part of this experience upsets me, because I know I was incredibly lucky. I'm dying to go back. But I can't fathom paying the actual price of $3500 CAD. Although I have seen the price go as low as $1600 CAD at other times during the year.