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A Home Away From Home - There's Truth To The Cliché At El Taj, Playa Del Carmen

Our days at El Taj had the most wonderful routine to them. Waking up to sunshine and a cup of coffee in our own kitchen. Skipping into swimsuits to splash into the beautifully blue (and wonderfully warm) Caribbean sea from the old dock.

Katiya, Leo, Luis, Señor Rudy and the washer-dryer. A small part of the long list of the reasons why we felt right at home at El Taj, Playa Del Carmen. The three-bedroom condo, the fully equipped kitchen, the huge living space that stretched out from the kitchen's island, the healthy buffet breakfast and our tunes pumping out of the in-house sound-system. A few more of those reasons that we felt right at home. The warm Caribbean sea to jump into from the dock pre-breakfast; a family dinner at Plank, a four diamond awarded restaurant; a five-minute leisurely stroll to find ourselves on Fifth Avenue, Playa del Carmen; a moonlit Mayan dance performance in a beachside plaza and a hot tub large enough for the whole family. A small part of a long list of reasons we knew we were far from home. Playa Del Carmen!

Katiya checked us into El Taj, very professionally to make sure we had all the information that we needed, yet was extremely friendly which made us feel that we could easily approach her with any questions that we had during our stay. Thanks, Katiya! Leo, laid back whilst being ever so helpful. By the time he had helped us with our luggage and showed us where everything was in the condo, we felt as though we had made a friend, or at least as though we wanted him as a friend. Thanks, Leo! Luis, down at the beachfront Indigo restaurant made us feel so very comfortable and welcome each morning, remembering our preferences and causing us to smile with more sparkle. Thanks, Luis! Señor Rudy, greeting us with an old-fashioned five-star formality that made us roll back our shoulders and stand straight in our beachwear as we headed in and out of the gateway to the sandy beach. He also reminded us of any rules that we should know about to keep the kids safe. Gracias, Señor Rudy! When you're travelling as a family of five, having the use of a washer-dryer can be the best thing (my husband was beaming, you should have seen him!). Thanks, El Taj!

Our days at El Taj had the most wonderful routine to them. Waking up to sunshine and a cup of coffee in our own kitchen. Skipping into swimsuits to splash into the beautifully blue (and wonderfully warm) Caribbean sea from the old dock. Drying off on sun-loungers whilst the kids played in the sand, before indulging in a healthy breakfast on par with that which I would serve at home. Mix your own muesli kids, however you want it, apricots, coconut, sunflower seeds, raisins, no raisins. Go ahead kids, the ingredients are all there! The breakfast buffet was a mother's dream, plus we got to order a main from the menu too. One trip to the supermarket for supplies to fill the fridge meant making the most of our time. Not having to scope restaurants out and opting for lunches at home meant more time in the pool or in the sea... Whoopee! And when temperatures got too hot, 'twas siesta time! And once the kids were napping, I tip-toed out to get a message at the spa. The room may have been basic in its design, but Rosario really knew how to work out the knots. Thanks, Rosario! A late afternoon meander from hotel to the main strip of Playa del Carmen's Fifth Avenue, took but a few minutes (that's if you didn't stop at every boutique along the way). Sometimes we found ourselves at Plank, Playa's five-star diamond awarded restaurant. Wow! Service, presentation, scrumptiousness, and portion size all led to some very satisfied diners.

Fed, we strolled the famous, busy Avenida Quinta leisurely, enjoying the atmosphere ablaze with the enjoyment of holiday makers from all around the world. Reaching the plaza, the voladores de Papantla were assembled. The five men had scaled up the huge pole and four had secured themselves with just a loop of rope around one foot. The whistling tune began and they spun and spiralled down, upside down, before an on-the-run landing. Hypnotically beautiful. Just as that ended, the smoke from copal incense started rising in the distance, and the beat of the Mayan drums called the crowd to the archway by the sea. Spectacular costumes and the magic quality of fire had the audience mesmerised as the ritual was performed. Another hit. Once the spectators dispersed, we shuffled but a few metres to the kids playground on the sand. A hat trick of successful family entertainment! When the kids grew tired, we just spun on our heels and smiled at the fiesta scenes as we moseyed-on home. El Taj, felt like home. Its proximity to the party scene was but a turn of a few corners, yet tucked away so that you could take comfort in the cozy cradle of the condominium. In the morning we started another beautiful day, which was followed by another, and then another...

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