Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New York City Summer Bucketlist

Summer has arrived in New York City. Rooftop bars are in full swing and parks are packed. Every year I have a few things I love to do in the city in the summer. I always end up adding to that list. Let's take a peak at my list for this summer...

Sip cocktails on the Met rooftop bar: We discovered this spot at the end of our first summer. Every season, the Met opens up their rooftop bar, overlooking Central Park. They feature a few pieces on the rooftop so you can enjoy some art with your cocktail.

Picnic in Central Park: We received the cutest picnic basket as a wedding gift. It's perfect for Joe and I to take a park date. Unfortunately we no longer live walking distance to Central Park but we will definitely still visit this summer and we live down the street from another park.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge: This is a favorite activity and always something we take guests to do. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most beautiful structures in New York, in my opinion. I like taking the subway to Dumbo, wondering around by the water and then walking across the bridge to lower Manhattan. Fun fact: my great grandfather's company supplied the cables for the Brooklyn Bridge!

Take the ferry to Rockaway Beach: In my last job, I took the Rockaway ferry route every day. During the warmer months, I longed to stay on the boat and head to the beach. This summer I'm definitely making it happen. The ride is only one hour from the Wall Street pier and will only run you $2.75 [same as a subway ride].

Wine taste in the Hamptons: I still haven't managed to do the most classic summer activity for New Yorkers: visit the Hamptons. I'm changing that next month with a wine tasting day trip!

Watch a movie at Bryant Park: We have yet to do this but this summer - it's happening! All summer Bryant Park offers movies on the lawn every Monday night [through August]. 

See Manhattanhenge: This is my third summer in New York and each year, Joe and I vow to see Manhattanhege but never do it. This year we can't miss it. Manhattanhege is when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. 

Wonder through a street fair: Manhattan is full of street fairs that span for several blocks. One of the first things Joe and I did the first time we visited New York. We bought spices and succulents. You'll never know what you'll find at these fairs.

What is on your summer bucket list?!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sandos Playacar Beach Resort | An Honest Review

As many of you know, Joe & I went on our honeymoon last week in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We stayed at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort and I want to share my thoughts on the resort. 

We stayed for eight days at Sandos Playacar and stayed in a Premium Club Ocean Front Suite. From my research on Expedia, I could tell that the Premium Club offered slightly more but we mainly chose it for the ocean front view. The Trip Advisor reviews mention that these rooms were a little outdated and needed to be renovated - we chose to overlook this for the view.

Upon check in, we were offered cocktails and were invited to a "welcome breakfast" [which I thought was because I mentioned we were on our honeymoon]. We settled into our room, which was a decent size but they gave us two queen beds instead of a king [awkward]. 

The resort itself was nice and spread out. The area closest to the beach housed the premium club. There were two pools between the two buildings. The main pool is for all the guests and the smaller pool in front is for "members" [we'll get to that later]. There are several bars and a few restaurants scattered before reaching "the meeting point" - an area for groups to meet and also the best wifi. Just past the meeting point sits the outdoor theater for all of their nightly entertainment. There are two more restaurants and a little nightclub in the vicinity as well. 

From there, you can walk by the haciendas [where members stay], which are more secluded. Along the walk, you'll find the cat sanctuary and a spot for the donkey and goats. After wondering down a road, you'll reach the main lobby, with the adults only section on one side [swim up bar included] and the family section on the other side. The entire walk, from one end to the other, takes about 15 minutes. 

On our first morning, we wondered to the meeting point for our "welcome breakfast". Little did we know - this was a scam and was actually a timeshare presentation. The resort covets their "members" and several sections are members only. We quickly opted out of the members scam and went off to explore the town. 

This resort offers everything you'll typically find at an all inclusive - unlimited food and drinks, pools, nightly entertainment, and activities at the resort. The only additional feature we utilized was the spa. I got a pedicure and Joe and I got couples massages on the beach. The spa featured the beauty salon, gym, and hydrotherapy pools. We took advantage of the hydrotherapy pools for about 45 minutes before getting our massage. Overall our spa experience was relaxing but the music from the pool area was a little distracting during the massage. We also intended to try some of their fitness classes but I got a stomach infection midway through the trip and was trapped in our room. 

As for the food, all inclusive generally doesn't have the highest quality food. Breakfast was either the buffet or room service [24 hour room service was included with our room]. The selections for room service were minimal and I didn't love the buffet. Lunch was mainly the same. Dinner was a choice of restaurants in addition to the buffet. Sandos has a French restaurant, Italian restaurant, Mexican restaurant, Mexican to-go spot [similar to Chipotle], cupcake shop/coffee shop, Brazil restaurant, Steakhouse, and Asian spot. We didn't get a chance to try them all, as I got a stomach infection. From what I tried, Le Gourmet (the French option) was my favorite. Their filet mignon was actually decent! I also found their Mexican to-go option to be pretty good [they also made crepes there] and I loved the coffee shop - mainly for the good wifi and AC. 

This resort was made for families and large groups. They were always blasting dance music and there was plenty to do at the resort alone. That being said - this wasn't the most romantic and serene location for a honeymoon. We didn't feel that any aspect of the resort was "luxury". For us, we like a combination of excursions and downtime at the resort. This resort could have been a little more relaxing and not as hectic. 

Would I stay here again? Absolutely not. Between the timeshare scam and the stomach infection [I think it came from food or water at the resort], I didn't have a great experience, which is sad for our honeymoon! 

Is this resort right for you? Depends what you're looking for. Bachelorette parties, families, and large groups - this is your spot. Romantic couple getaways - maybe not so much. 

My final rating is 3/5

I'd love to hear your opinion if you've stayed at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort as well!

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