In lieu of the Bliss List today we decided to share our most recent family adventure with you! Every year right before Spring we plan a family trip together, something fun where we can all spend some quality time in the sunshine while the snow is still melting in Canada. This year was no different, our winter was extra long & cold and so we took to the trusted Air Transat website to browse their last minute all inclusive family vacations available.
We debated between a few locations and decided on Cuba, with their stunning beaches and vibrant culture – we know the family was in for a fun time! It was an easy breezy 4 hour flight with Air Transat from Toronto to Cuba and once again our kids had such a fun time, we watched movies and played card games – they had yummy snacks thanks to being a part of the Air Transat Kids Club. Did you know that the Kids Club has been around for over ten years? It gives us families priority boarding and a great baggage allowance and a great snack plan on the flight – we all know snacks are key to a good flight with kids am I right? Healthy snacks too!! Noah got in a solid nap during our flight there while Ella and the rest of us watched the in-flight movie, a comedy – my fav!
There were so many great options while we browsed but a 5 star family friendly resort stood out, it was on a beautiful beach in Varadero, Cuba with great restaurant reviews and stunning accommodations along the water that could fit all of our family of 4 + nana comfortably. Oceans Azul resort, an all inclusive beauty and we opted for their “privilege” program which gave us larger rooms and more amenities. Oceans Vista Azul is also only 25 minutes from the airport, a total plus for us. You guys know that we try to find accommodations with larger square footage so the kids don’t go stir crazy and neither do we when indoors and this resort had gorgeous rooms. Our room had a kitchen and dining space, a living room with a flat screen tv, a king size bed in the separate bedroom with another flat screen tv, 2 bathrooms with an outdoor shower in one of them AND a jacuzzi tub…oh and let’s not forget the balcony which had front row seats to the gorgeous ocean! The decor was nice and neutral and the room was SO clean every day, a mama can’t complain about coming back at the end of the day to a clean suite right? It was nice to take a week off from laundry and dishes that’s for sure!
We met the resort manager George on our first day there and I was so happy to meet someone SO in love with what they do, he was so proud of his resort and showed us our room, the pools and restaurants as well as all of the amenities. We were so impressed with how well kept the grounds were with lush tropical trees and grass – people were working hard and cleaning all of the time. All of the staff we met were happy – this says a lot about a tourism property! We all had a blast at the Oceans Vista Azul resort, especially the kids. We are all happy spending our days at the beach or by the pool and our kids never crave much more than that…and food of course haha. We spent every day at the beach swimming for hours on end in the crystal clear waters, building sand castles, in the pool or laying and colouring in the shade of our poolside cabana that fit all of us. It was truly relaxing and we were lucky we had great weather too – nothing but sunshine every day! The kids barely made it past dinner time every night from being so tired from all of the fun, I think that has to be one of my favourite parts about family vacations somewhere warm. You can guarantee yourself a relaxing evening if your kids have swam all day and tuckered themselves out. Mom win!
We took 1 day off of course to experience the Cuban authentic culture in Havana, we knew before we arrived in Cuba that Havana was somewhere we had to visit with the kids. We wanted to try an authentic in-home restaurant and show the kids all of the colourful buildings, restaurants where local artists played their musicians and sing and all of the colourful classic cars too! Luckily our Air Transat representative arranged a fun day trip to Havana with others from the hotel where we could all explore while also learning from our tour guide about the area. I would highly recommend bringing a stroller if you are bringing toddlers with you – there is a lot of walking. We didn’t bring a stroller so of course we ended up carrying the kiddos by the end, luckily after some delicious fresh churros they napped the entire drive back to the resort…about 1.5 hours! The restaurant we ate lunch at is called Hotal El Cañonazo, it is such a fun atmosphere and they even had live music. Plan your trip well though because this place does get super busy, it’s very popular with locals & tourists! The kids, well all of us went to bed early every night. Since our kids go to bed around 7pm they didn’t get to experience any of the organized shows at the resort that started around 8:30/9pm. However the resort staff always have fun activities during the day for families like face painting or organized group sports and contests! We brought my mom with us on this trip, we usually bring her along because she is so fun and SO helpful with the kids!! It also gives Craig and I the time to go sneak in a date night if we want to and experience what the resort has to offer after 8pm haha.
This resort does have a great kids club too with activities indoors as well as an outdoor play ground – it was so sunny every day that our kiddos just wanted to swim, swim and swim some more so we didn’t spend much time at the kids club. We actually officially ditched the water wings this trip and Ella can now swim all by herself under water – I cried out of excitement and pride. If you followed along on our trip you may remember me talking about how I was never a strong swimmer growing up – it actually gave me quite a lot of anxiety to be honest. I was held under the water once by some not so nice kids when I was younger at a group function and I am pretty sure it kept me timid by water until I was about 19 and moved to New Zealand. In New Zealand I fell in love with the water and the ocean and became more comfortable (thank gosh)!
The food at this resort was wonderful! I feel like Cuba gets a bad rap for the food but we were so lucky at our resort. Our favourite restaurant was the Cuban one and we ate there 4 out of 7 nights – we tried every dish on the menu and LOVED it! The restaurant manager was so amazing and our kids knew him by name, he drew adorable drawings for the kids and always made dinner time that much more fun for all of us. All of the staff in there were friendly and provided excellent customer service. I gained about 5 lbs on this trip which is a good testament to the food, so good I had to indulge daily! Good thing they have a tennis court and a great gym, Craig went to the gym almost every day and actually made friends with other tourists from around the world which was super cool. I kept my workouts to the resort pool haha! 😉 Other than the Cuban restaurant we loved the buffet, it was full of a variety of options both at breakfast lunch and dinner. Think omelette bars, fresh fish frying, Cuban barbecues, fresh pastas and breads and endless fresh fruits. I think I ate more papaya in 1 week than I have my entire life haha! I believe the resort had 5 a la carte restaurants (meaning you make reservations for them) and 1 restaurant that was only available to the privilege program guests – it was a Seafood one. This same restaurant was open for breakfast for the privilege guests as well and it sits right at the infinity pool! We enjoyed 3 of our breakfasts there because the view was so breathtaking in the morning and it wasn’t as busy as during the rest of the day. We loved sipping fresh Cuban lattes while the kids enjoyed their smoothies and looking at the ocean, or chatting up fellow travellers at the resort. We met so many Canadians while there that were also travelling with Air Transat!
Wait, did I mention the café on the resort? YES, you read that right! They have an amazing Cuban café on the property called Mike’s Coffee where they make lattes and coffee all day and into the night. We would start off our morning with a nice hot coffee then after dinner at the end of the day we would sip on an espresso while walking back to our room and then finish it up on our balcony watching the sunset as the kids played with their Air Transat playing cards – go fish any one?
We are already counting down to our next trip as a family with Air Transat, did you know that they have flights available to more than 60 destinations, including South and Europe. Not just vacations. We recently discovered that you can book flights to Europe which is great for our plans to explore Italy next year!