We’d had enough of small hotel rooms and pizza from a box. We adore our kids, but we needed our own space, somewhere to cook our own meals and a place to simply unwind.
Our extensive travels have taught us something - we love vacation rentals. They give us space to spread out and feel like we’re at home… while on vacation. So when Bric Vacation Rentals asked If we’d like to check in to The Elements in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, we just knew we had to check it out (full pun intended!)
This unique complex of condos is perched right on the beach at the north end of the densely populated 5th Avenue on Flamingo Avenue (map). It’s out of the way enough to almost feel secluded, but close enough to the centre of town that walking to dinner, breakfast or scuba diving was quick and easy.
We were assigned our very own concierge/butler upon arrival. Miguel was everything we could have asked for, absolutely invaluable for making a new location feel familiar. He could book dinner reservations, provide recommendations for lunch nearby, organise spa treatments, answer any question possible, and was always on call. In fact, he gave us his WhatsApp number so any time of the day we could just text him and he’d be available to help. This extended even after our stay when I realised I had left all my clothes in a drawer back at the condo (I know, how do I do that?). One text message and Miguel had it packed and sent to our new accommodation. Lickety split. Completely above and beyond. Ask for him by name when you visit.
Upon arrival at The Elements we were shown to our condo on the ground floor. Large, glass doors backed onto the central Olympic length swimming pool so that we could comfortably sit in the air-conditioned living room while keeping an eye on our kids swimming at the same time.
There was also plenty of lush lawn area for the kids to run around and attack each other with pool noodles. In the afternoons music appeared out of nowhere and a small pool party with other guests ensued. We didn’t find it rowdy and it was nothing a closed door couldn’t eliminate if desired, but this gathering we most often joined.
And the space, oh the space! The apartment featured a 6 seater dining table, a large comfy couch with a very big screen TV and 2 bedrooms. One with 2 double beds and 1 with a king. Both had TVs and bathrooms.
The kitchen came fully equipped and there was even a washing machine and dryer in the laundry tucked behind the kitchen. Bric Vacation Rentals even included a small first-aid kit – they thought of everything!
Sitting on our dining room table was an unexpected welcome gift basket filled with a range of local foods and drinks and even toys. We put these Mexican delicacies to good use during our days by the pool.
Although we were too relaxed to make use of them during our stay, there was also a gym and business centre on-site.
The condo complex also contained a hot tub and private beach club with lounge chairs on the beach. Drinks and light meals were available for purchase.
There are several convenient places to eat near the condos, or other times we made use of the kitchen after a quick visit to Walmart or Mega supermarkets (map).
Looking for places to eat? See here.
A handy bonus… Only a 15-minute walk from the condos was the Bric Hotel & Spa where we enjoyed a delicious and quick breakfast several times. Each day they cook a set menu and it is brought straight to your table. No complex choices – just the way I like it
We really didn’t want to leave. We spent our mornings in the swimming pool and when the heat got too much we retreated inside to watch any number of movies available on the big TV via an included set-top box, in the ice-cold air-conditioning. I can’t emphasise how precious this in during hot Yucatan summer days. By evening we were ready to head out to the beach for sunset, snorkelling and sand castle making.
However, after a little research on Travel Yucatan we were inspired to get out and try some of the fun activities around Playa. Most were within walking distance from our Bric Vacation Rental, which meant location-wise it was perfecto.
Our vacation rental forms part of the Bric Hotel & Spa located 15 minutes walk down the road (map). We visited for breakfast and ended up booking a massage at the on-site spa. Our masseuse from Poland was absolute magic. Josh enjoyed a relaxing full body, while I opted for head and feet. Try a decadent chocolate ball in the relaxation room after you have finished!
Within walking distance Josh and I found PADI certified Scuba Playa and the amazing instructor Vicky. If you learn to scuba with her all you will need is 3 days on-site from 8am to 3pm. And 12 to 15 hours of online theory and testing done via a computer (or tablet) in the comfort of your own home. The Caribbean Sea is one of the best places to learn scuba diving. You don’t have to go far out to sea, the water is clean, visibility is top notch and the marine life? Turtles, eels, sting rays, lion fish, and Dory, oh my!
If you are not quite ready for to invest up to 5 days for certification, then try the 1-day Discover Scuba Diving course. It’s involves couple hours of practical learning in the pool and then 2 ocean dives to see the local reef. An expedient introduction course that will have you hooked, just like us.
Snorkelling with whale sharks off the Yucatan coast is not an experience you will ever forget. Big, beautiful, gentle creatures of the sea. Read more about our experience here.
Along 5th Avenue you will find plenty of shopping - souvenirs, American chain stores like Forever 21 and H&M, swimwear, Mayan jewellery, you name it.
We had an organised family photo shoot while in Mexico so I booked a visit to Godiva to have my hair and makeup done (map). It was walking distance from our vacation rental. They did a great job on my hair. But you need to have a quote up front, because the price fluctuates even on the day. Godiva were not so great with gel nails, so skip that.
Instead head to Quinto Elemento (map). The lovely lady there was excellent. She couldn’t speak any English but she taught me lots of Spanish and Google Translate saved the day (again). This is also a short walk from The Elements.
There is so much to do in Playa Del Carmen I literally cannot contain it all in this one post. From our vacation rental we could do any number of amazing world-class cultural, heritage and adventure activities:
While the large resorts of Cancun certainly do offer a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, consider a vacation rental when on a Mexican getaway with the family or friends. Not just for the extra space, but for the location… and most definitely for Miguel, the extraordinary concierge.