Last week, Matt and I took Riese on a family vacation – our first big trip as a family of 3! We hadn’t done any air travel with Riese yet and decided it was time to get brave and go for it. 🙂 We spent a couple days researching (aka Googling “best vacation spots with one year old”), and decided we wanted to go somewhere warm and beachy, but stay in the U.S. – Florida it was!
After looking around the web and reading reviews, we ended up deciding to stay at Club Med Sandpiper Bay (affiliate link), near West Palm Beach. I’d heard of Club Med before but never been to one; I always thought they were more for the party scene/singles, but reading reviews we learned that some of the Club Meds have wonderful baby + kid clubs, and the Sandpiper Bay location was one of their hotels that did have the “Baby Club Med” option. It is also apparently their only location in the U.S.!
They made air travel with a baby easy because their baby package includes a pack ‘n’ play in your room, a car seat in the car/shuttle that takes you to and from the airport and resort, and a stroller for you to use while staying there. Sweet, right?! It was really nice to not have to travel with all that bulky stuff – made the airport situation way easier. We checked both our suitcases so we ended up just having our backpacks and the diaper bag while in the airport. I had Riese in the carrier and didn’t have to take her out to go through security (not sure if that’s just because we have TSA pre-check or not). Easy!
Riese’s first flight went well – I nursed her on takeoff and then we gave her some water from her straw cup when landing to help with her ears. We lucked out with timing that it was her naptime, so after a bit of chaos she fell slept for most of the flight in my arms (which I loved – she never does that anymore!). I can’t say the same about the flight home – lol – it was kind of a hot mess but we made it. 😉
As for Florida, it was lovely! It was a bit cold earlier in the week but warmed up nicely by the end of the week. One of the other appealing things about Club Med and their “baby club Med” was that they offer childcare! We wanted to spend a lot of time with Riese and to have a lot of family fun on the trip, of course, but we also thought it would be nice to have some adult only time, too. It was really nice because we were able to take Riese to the daycare for her naps (she ended up switching back to two naps a day while on vacation vs. the usual one at home because she didn’t sleep as long at daycare, and because she had to stay up later because of the dinner timing situation), so we weren’t just stuck waiting around in the room during the day while she slept.
We ended up settling into a nice routine. After waking up and playing for a bit, we would head to breakfast together – the breakfast buffet was open from something like 7 to 10, so it was a nice big window. (One morning, I went to an 8 a.m. outdoor yoga class – so lovely – and then met Matt and Riese at breakfast, but every other morning we just went together.)
After breakfast, we would play with Riese for a bit in the cool baby gym they had in the kid’s area, or in the little playground outside if it was warm enough.
By the time she was starting to get tired, around 10/10:30, we would take her to the daycare for her nap, and Matt and I would go off and play some tennis! They had a bunch of nice courts (and pickleball courts, which we also tried a couple times – it was like mini tennis on a mini court with paddles and lighter plastic balls – fun!) and renting rackets and balls was included/not an extra fee, so that was nice. Matt and I love playing tennis together and hadn’t played in ages, so it was fun to have this time together most of the mornings!
We asked the daycare to call us when Riese woke up from her nap, and whenever she was up (usually right around noon), we would go pick her up and head to lunch together – again at the buffet (it’s an all-inclusive resort – including alcohol which was pretty nice). Riese really loved all the fish – especially the salmon – and all the fruit! And it was easy since it was a buffet to give her a bunch of stuff to try vs. having to worry about ordering her a specific meal she maybe wouldn’t like.
After lunch, we would get changed into swimsuits and go play in the pool for a couple hours! Sometimes just our feet earlier in the week when it was too cold – but by mid week it was nice and warm and a couple of the pools were heated so we went in those. So fun – Riese loved the water and exploring the rest of the pool area too! We brought her down to the mini beach area (on the bay) once too, but she was not into the sand. 🙂
By the time Riese was getting tired and hungry, we would get her cleaned up and drop her back off at daycare for her snack and another nap – usually around 3/3:30. The pool always really wore her out!
There were a bunch of fun included (no extra fee) activities available for guests that we took advantage of in the late afternoon when Riese was napping, and since last week was a slow week at the resort, there was no wait to do anything! Matt and I took out kayaks one day…
Went sailing twice (an instructor goes out with you if you want, and they will teach you how to sail if you want to try it yourself – fun! or, you can go out solo).
AND they had a trapeze – how fun is that?! They had set times for “walk ups” and from 3p.m. on was when adults were able to start using it (kids were earlier in the day). We went twice and went a few times per visit – it was so fun and SUCH a workout! Remember when I did a trapeze class back in 2013 in DC?! I was able to get my legs over the bar and let go with my hands again – hizzah! My abs were soooo sore after this! The ladder was the scariest part… the rest was fun. (I put a video of me in action on my Instagram stories today if you want to check it out!)
After our various adventure sports, Matt and I would spend the rest of our time before the daycare closed at 5 relaxing at the adult only pool! Usually with some bubbly (all inclusive FTW) in hand. 🙂
After picking Riese up we’d head to the beach to watch the sunset. Watching the sun set over the water is the best! Riese was not as into it as we were, but that’s okay. 😉
Squirmy baby sunset collage:
After the sunset fun, we would head back to the room, shower, and then hang out for a bit before dinner opened. This was the one downside to the resort – the dinner buffet didn’t open until 6:30, which is usually when Riese goes to bed. (They had an earlier grill place open, but it was just burgers/fries so not great baby food.) But, we made it work. A few of the nights she did great, and a few of the nights she was a total mess and we had to shovel food into our faces and race out as quickly as we could. (One of the more hilarious lowlights was one night when she was flipping out and somehow managed to rip off her diaper while I was holding her trying to get her to calm down – she was in a dress with no pants – omg. #momlife #fail) If anyone from Club Med is reading this – please open your dinner buffet earlier since you cater to kids/babies! There were lots of other melting down little ones there so I’m guessing we are not alone in this request. 😉
Anyway – once we got Riese to bed, the rest of the night was spent relaxing! I usually read in bed and was asleep by 9 – it was glorious. Apparently Club Med has fun shows every night of the week, and they do have a “pajama club” where they will put your kids to bed for you, but I felt bad doing that because it would mean having to wake Riese up to transfer her, and I wasn’t sure how she’d do with strangers putting her to bed in a strange place anyway (probably not great). So, we opted to not try that. No worries! Matt did make it out one night solo to see the circus show which he said was cool – maybe next year! 😉
Such a wonderful family trip – we are so grateful to have been able to take the time to go! It was a great week to travel – as I mentioned the resort was not full at all, and prices were way cheaper too (vs. this week or next week for Christmas). We would totally go to Club Med again, too – the whole baby/kid set up there is so nice to have that mix of adult only and fun family time. Apparently some of their international locations have the baby/kid clubs, too… might be fun! And it was nice and easy that it was all inclusive so we didn’t have to worry about any added fees or anything either.
Until next time, Florida… thanks for the good times. 🙂