Saturday, August 4, 2012

Live Aqua Cancun ~ July 2012

Everyone knows that last July, Steve and I experienced our best vacation to date. We spent an amazing seven nights at Live Aqua Cancun to celebrate our five-year anniversary. Upon our return, we surrendered to the realization that we’d probably never be able to afford another vacation like that again. We took so many pictures and we were happy that we could look back with such fondness for years to come.

But I wasn’t ready to give up :) We were very happy with Cancun so I did my thing and researched every all-inclusive resort in Cancun. We always prefer an adults-only hotel, but priced other hotels as well. Every once in a while, I’d look at the Live Aqua prices with high hopes that they’d surprise me again with a great rate. Eventually, I narrowed my choices down to three reasonably priced, all-inclusive, adults-only resorts. As the New Year approached, I checked more often as Live Aqua was offering special rates…And then there was an offer I couldn’t refuse!

How does 14 nights sound?? YES PLEASE!

I booked through United Vacations, which included non-stop flights from Cleveland to Cancun, 14 nights at Live Aqua and roundtrip transportation between the Cancun airport and hotel. The price per night was less than I paid last year and I just couldn’t resist.

It took careful planning to save for this trip and with a few small sacrifices :) I made it happen. I am so happy I did! And Steve is happy to have married his perfectly beautiful, super-planner, ultra-organized wife to go on these vacations with! (Note: He may not have uttered those exact words, but he surely intended to.)

When people ask me what we’re going to do during two weeks in Cancun, I reply with “absolutely nothing” and I get mixed responses. Nothing? Well, no. We will eat, drink, soak up the sun, take walks on the beach and watch the sunset. We will laugh, smile, swim, nap, run and play. But, no, we will not rent a car, go on excursions, or see the countryside. We won’t swim with the dolphins, explore the ruins or dance in the clubs. Our nothing is surely something! Luckily Steve and I have identical travel styles and we are perfect travel partners. We took our first trip to Myrtle Beach together when we were barely dating in May 2001 so I guess it’s been something that we’ve always done together and something we always look forward to. We enjoy everything about doing absolutely nothing.

From the minute you walk into the resort, you’re in awe. This place is truly amazing. The entire hotel is very zen and I think we captured this in all of our pictures. Once again, we were in paradise.


At check-in, we received information about each restaurant and activities occurring throughout the week. 


We started the trip with a gardenview room on the Mezzanine level. It was very average in size with a great bed, sitting chair and ottoman, table, two chairs and plasma TV. The bathroom had a stand up shower, nice tub and amenities. The balcony also had two chairs and one small side table. Each room also had a mini bar stocked with soda, water, beer and a few snacks.

There was no garden to be seen, but we could see plenty of the water. Staying 14 nights really limits the opportunity to upgrade for the entire stay, so we decided to wait a few nights. The gardenview room itself was identical to all other oceanview or oceanfront standard rooms. The view is simply on the outside of the resort, rather than the inside. Every room has a balcony, which is also a bonus.

We started to get bored with the family of lizards that we watched from the gardenview room, so after four nights we decided to move to an oceanfront room on the eighth floor. The view was great.

After another five nights, we upgraded to an Aqua Club room on the fifth floor in the center of the resort. Some people may not see the advantage of the Aqua Club, but we do. We enjoyed it last year and were happy to have access during the last five days of our stay.

With access to the Aqua Club, we were given a comfortable lounge to use at our leisure. We used it most often for a light breakfast, mimosas, pre-dinner snacks and drinks.

The snack selections varied daily (various cheeses, stuffed grapes, sushi, ceviche, skewers, etc.) all served with an open bar. There was a huge selection of liquors and some really great tequila. 


When we had access, we made it a routine to stop in here before dinner for a small snack and a few drinks and watch the sunset over the lagoon. Ultimately, we liked it as another convenient and comfortable option outside of our room.

Pools & Beach

The pool scene was pretty spectacular. The main pool area had five pools and one hot tub. We loved the pool area, but with little breeze it was very hot and hard to take for too long and often found ourselves in the water.

The drink service was outstanding (especially Andres) and we often had a new drink delivered to us before we were even done with our old drink! He introduced us to new drinks (which we could never remember the name) and always brought us bottled water throughout the day. It was pretty awesome!

We usually went to the pool earlier in the day and the water temperatures were fine. Later on, the largest (and warmest) pool could be a bit warm. It was fun to hop around to the different pools, but the view from the infinity pool was hard to pass up.

There was also a swim-up bar, but it was a little more crowded, so we never stayed there.

One day there was a guy making snow cones poolside, while another day there was random entertainment.

The pools also looked really neat at night. With the hotel in the backdrop, it's all pretty picturesque.

The beach is beautiful! Despite the heat, the sand is perfectly cool. Unfortunately, it simply became too hot for us and we headed back to the pool to cool off.


Just like last year, the food made our trip even better than we could have expected. After our stay in 2011, we assumed the quality of the food would suffer, but we were wrong. They actually offer several more lunch options, along with a sushi station. The menus are entirely different, but the food is still great. As soon as possible, we ate at every available food option. After we had a taste of them all, we choose our favorites and made the best of our dining experience. The presentation was great and the food just as good. The food we ate easily covered the cost of the trip...and as tempting as it is, we really didn't overeat. The portions were controlled (Note: I said controlled, not small!) and the sides minimal. We usually ordered one or two salads/appetizers and two entrees...then maybe a dessert or two. We could always get an additional entree or extra salads, appetizers, etc., but typically opted for dessert instead. There were so many food options that it was impossible for us to get bored.

MB was once again our favorite restaurant. It was only available for dinner, but had a romantic and comfortable atmosphere. We ate there several nights and enjoyed every single meal. The white tuna was our favorite, followed closely by the beef tail ravioli.

On our first visit, we had a seafood cream, which was lightly spiced with sauteed seafood and a cheese baguette along with a baked pear salad with bee pollen, vinaigrette truffle and goat cheese foam,

For the entree course, Steve ordered the grilled flank steak with creamy polenta gratin with broccoli and green pepper demi-glaze, while I had the linguini carbonara with a creamy sauce of bacon, peas, dried cherry tomatoes and serrano ham. Both were excellent.

On our second visit (HAPPY SIX YEAR ANNIVERSARY!), our first course was the potato soup with fennel, potato brunoise, spring onion and truffle foam, along with the fried calamari with curry, banana, tamarind compote and cilantro.

For our entrees, Steve ordered the stuffed chicken with dried fruit and bacon, chickpea ragout with chorizo and gravy, while I had the seared white tuna with tarragon, pineapple chutney, jicama, fried green beans and pibil sauce.

On our next visit, our first course was the flank steak carpaccio with a fennel vinaigrette, habanero chili, green beans and lemon zest. We also ordered the potato soup again...

Our entree's consisted of the beef tail ravioli with scallions and a cherry tomato braised sauce and the wild risotto with seafood and sauteed vegetables.

During our last MB experience, Steve ordered the pork loin with zucchini timbale with potato and sun dried fruits. We also couldn't resist getting the beef tail ravioli and seared white tuna again. They were awesome!

Finally, for dessert we loved to order the cocoa + cocoa. A soft and crispy hazelnut base with salt, chocolate cream, vanilla ice cream and caramel foam...We drank it with Bailey's and milk. How can you go wrong? Oh, and we may have had it more than once!

We ate at Siete many times for breakfast, once for lunch and four times for dinner. The breakfast buffet was very extensive with tons of hot dishes, cereal, and mimosas, screwdrivers, and bloody Mary’s galore. We really enjoyed the made-to-order tacos, available in beef, pork and chicken with a plethora of salsa choices. As an added bonus, the view from the breakfast table was very pretty.

Siete for lunch varied from buffet to a la carte. We only ate here once because it was usually more convenient to eat at the pool or in the room. When we did, we enjoyed a panini sandwiche and pasta, then finished with an orange cake and Bailey's cake.

Most nights, they only offered a buffet with a different theme, but we ate there the few nights they had an a la carte menu. The cochonitas were amazing and worth getting twice!

 On our first visit to Siete, our first course consited of the fish tacos with chipotle mayo along with the caesar salad.

For the main course we both ordered the flank steak with chipotle sauce served over a bed of potatoes. Last year when we visited, the steak was a filet mignon. Although the flank steak wasn't quite as great, the chipotle sauce is what makes the dish!

Our second visit had us eating there with our new friends, Rex and Sandy. There was a Friday night fire show that was unfortunately rained out. They moved the buffet inside and we enjoyed some chicken and fish kabobs with rice and vegetables.

On our third visit, we had the green apple salad with hibiscus flower, goat cheese and organic honey dressing along with the authentic Lima soup with shredded chicken and grilled lime.

For our entree's, I ordered the infamous Cochinita Pibil. It's essentially pulled pork wrapped in a banana leaf and served with "xnic pec" sauce, avocado and tortillas. It was the best overall dish we had the resort and we miss it dearly. When we talked to a lot of the staff, they agreed it was their favorite dish as well. I guess we have good taste :)

 Steve ordered the Legendary Tikin Xic Fish, an ancestral recipe from the north of Yucatan, marinated in "chiote." It was very good and we both were happy to share.

We finished our meal with a traditional tres leches cake. A great end to a great meal!

On our last night they actually had half the restaurant set-up for the buffet, while the other half was a la carte…we enjoyed both.

For dinner, I simply had to get the Cochonitas again, while Steve had the Chicken with homemade Mole served with white rice and sesame seeds.

Azur was our favorite choice for lunch and our least favorite for dinner. During lunch we loved sitting outside and enjoying the breeze off the ocean. It was pretty spectacular.

We had a variety of dishes for lunch including the chef's salad and beef tacos.

Another option we enjoyed was the trio of carpaccios (tuna, salmon and sea bass)

Finally, we ordered the filet for lunch a couple of times because it was awesome and perfectly prepared. Steve’s chicken and gnocchi were also really delicious and simple. Add the view and Azur was easily our favorite choice for lunch.

We found the coconut and chocolate ice creams to be an excellent and refreshing dessert. Add a couple of glasses of champane and you have a celebration. Cheers to us!

For dinner at Azur, we had a pre-fixe menu with a ravioi, soup, salad and entrée. While Steve’s grouper was adequate, my steak was not-so adequate. Honestly, the biggest issue we had at Azur for dinner was the heat inside. We were both pouring with sweat so it was hard to be comfortable and enjoy ourselves. It could have been a bad day, but we really wished we would have dined outside. Although we intended to eat there again when they offered their full menu, we never had the chance.

In Laa’Kech is a restaurant where we had to pay an additional $60 per person to eat, but we had a resort credit that allowed us to eat here at a reduced rate.

Steve had a hard time committing to eat here considering we had so many all-inclusive options, but I won the battle and we enjoyed a very fine dining experience.

We started with a tomato and cream soup and a mushroom and parmesan salad. We both really loved the tomato soup. Very light and creamy.

Our second course was a steak and shrimp skewer. Cooked perfectly and definitely big enough share.

For the main course, we both choose the filet and lobster, with potatoes and mushrooms as our sides. They also provided us with several different sauces for dipping.

Dessert was another cobbler and a Bailey's mousse. We opted for champagne as our drink of choice!

Not only was it a nice romantic setting, but the food and wine were great making it my favorite meal of the trip (and Steve’s second favorite!)

The Room Service was once again outstanding! We ordered it several times during our stay last year so we wanted to make sure we did it again this trip. It was a very convenient option for breakfast and lunch. The All-American breakfast was just that. Eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, bagels, juice and coffee.

For lunch, our favorite was the spring pasta and chicken.

We also ordered the arribiatta pasta, steak tacos, club sandwich and guacamole.

The Sea Corner was a nice new addition since last year. You could eat tacos, ceviche, tostadas and more with your feet in the sand. The Sea Corner is set directly on the beach and offers a great view with good food.

On our first day we tried the tuna tostada, Acapulco ceviche and popcorn seafood.

 Every meal is also served with a delicious guacamole and chips. I'd visit just for this!

The Sushi Bar was another new addition this year and we ordered it often. It was only open during the dinner hours so we usually ordered the vegetarian roll and ate it at the AKA bar before heading to MB or Siete for dinner. Once night, we decided to stay and order all of the rolls for dinner. This is a very welcome addition to the resort.

The Hot Dog Stand is another new addition. This was set up during the lunch hours at the pool. They offered hot dogs and hamburgers with your choice of toppings.

Another welcome addition is the Paella Hut located in between the pool and the hotel. It was offered sporadically throughout the week and we saw many people eat it by the pool. They also served delicious sangria alongside. Yum!

The Pool Side Service was so convenient! We simply ordered from our pool server and they’d bring it to your seat or wherever you were hanging out at the pool. We had the quesadillas, burgers and tacos.

Since last year they moved the Café into the gift shop. They offered hot and cold coffee, pastries and desserts all day as well as Panini sandwiches at lunch.

Romantic Dinner

We were also lucky enough to enjoy the resort’s Romantic Dinner on the Beach. Talk about romantic! Wow. It was so nice. The setting, the personalized attention, the food, and more importantly, the company made this our favorite night.

We started with a kiwi salad and then moved on to an octopus soup.

Our main course was the most gigantic lobster tail we’ve ever seen! I couldn’t even come close to eating it all…and Steve proclaimed this as his favorite meal of the trip.

We finished with a cute heart-shaped cheesecake and a few glasses of champagne. It was a very memorable night.

When we returned to our room they had a nice rose petal and candle display throughout the room and bathroom.

Rex & Sandy

Before I get started with the bar scene at Live Aqua, I want to talk about a couple we met very early in our trip. Rex and Sandy stayed the same 14 nights as us and were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. They really knew how to have a good time and truly made our stay more fun and memorable. They were always sharing stories and introducing us to new people. They might as well have been the King and Queen of Live Aqua and I'd like to think we were the Prince and Princess :) On their last day we watched as the head chef hand delivered lunch to them at the pool. We just ooo'd and ahhh'd in envy. Most importantly, Rex was always getting the party started by ordering shots for the group and sometimes the entire bar!

Bar Scene

The AKA Bar is where we spent a lot of our time. To tell you the truth, I don’t think a day went by when we didn’t make a stop before and/or after dinner. It’s where we met nearly all of our new vacation friends. They opened at 10 am and closed at 11 pm, so we were often (always?) there until close :) We would just ask them to make “a drink” and they would. We met so many people at AKA and always had a lot of fun. The service was always outstanding and they kept us coming back for more. Fun times at the AKA Bar because there was always room for more shots!

Egos Bar is the “late-night” bar which closed at 1 am. We were able to make it up there a few nights during the trip and it was always fun. They played dance music and it was usually pretty packed.

The Pool Bar is where the pool and beach servers went for our drinks. We also made our way up there on our own necessary. The Swim Up Bar was exactly that. It was separate from the main pool area, so we never made it there. It always seemed much busier than the rest of the pools so we simply looked and walked away.


We had a couples massage at the spa and it was amazing! It was actually Steve’s first massage and he was spoiled. The spa experience began with a one hour steam room, cold water plunge, hot tub, sauna, foot spa sequence. We were separate for this part and it was probably a good thing. My “Type A” and Steve’s “Type Zen” personalities needed to be apart. I was having a little anxiety in the sauna so I did what I do best…I neatly staked the towels, then un-stacked, then stacked. I’m not kidding. Thankfully I was alone because even I thought I was going crazy. Contrary to my craziness, Steve was in his own little world and at total peace.

We were brought to an adjoining room when it came time for our massages and it was really great. Afterwards, we went to peaceful cool down room until we headed back to the locker rooms to change. I simply put my clothes back on and returned to the lobby. After several long minutes I really began to wonder where Steve was…Did he become Mr. Chatty? The front desk ended up having to page him and let him know his wife was waiting. He decided to take full advantage of their spa facilitates...he showered (which he said was awesome) used the lotions and everything. He said I really missed out and immediately started talking about his next massage. We both felt renewed.

Random Stuff

On Thursday afternoon we participated in a Tequila Tasting where we were taught how to drink it and learned about the three types of tequila (Silver, Reposado and Anejo) which are given their name based on how long they have been aged. They're typically smoother, have more sugar and more expensive the longer they've been aged. We actually did the same tasting last year so we're no amateurs!

On Saturday we participated in a Wine & Cheese Tasting. The house wines at the resort were Chardonnay and Cabernet and served the most often so those were the two wines we tasted

On Friday we participated in a Cooking Class by the pool with several other guests. We were provided with all the ingredients to make guacamole then given chips so we could eat our creation! Not to brag or anything, but my guacamole was rated the best by the instructor :)

There were three trained resident Macaws on the premises. They flew around throughout the day and even posed for pictures.

Napoleon was the resident iguana. He hung out on the patio at Azur. He never caused any trouble and stood still when posing for pictures.

On Friday night there was a fire show with a buffet and grill set-up outside. It was nice to sit with all of our new friends and enjoy the display.

We were there during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics so they had an area set up with TV's and tea sandwiches.

Staff & Service

Overall, the staff at Live Aqua make everything better. They truly go out of their way to make each guest happy and they never turn any request down. “Your Wish My Wish” is the Live Aqua motto and the staff represents that slogan well. I guess happy people make me happy. We consider ourselves low-maintenance people, yet we still received A+ service every day. On our last night we had our picture with just of few members of the staff that made a difference.

I had an unfortunate accident where I slipped on water at the AKA bar and sprained my MCL (the diagnosis when I returned home). The staff and on-site first aid was there within seconds. I honestly can’t believe how fast they were there to assist. They wrapped my knee, gave me ice and helped me as much as they possibly could. The doctor came to my room the following day and when I saw various members of the staff throughout the rest of our trip they asked how I was. I was shocked and touched by how many guests and staff members were genuinely concerned about me. With that kind of attention, it was impossible to get down on myself.

Live Aqua is a place where you can relax quietly or party it up, as long as you meet the right people…like us! We managed to do both and with the help of so many great people we met throughout the weeks, we had our best vacation ever. Thank you to Sandy & Rex, Ron & Jean Marie, Kurt & Amy, Jami, Glenn, Cole & Klein, Jeff & Donna, Stu & Brandy,Chicago, Hawaii, Mollie & Nick, Ed & Kim, Ed & Elise, Eddie & Stella, Tom & Mary, Deena & Rob….and more! Also the “Crazy Couple” for truly entertaining everyone at the resort. We never could have imagined we would have so much fun with so many different people from all over the world.

So, as you can see our “doing nothing” worked out quite well. We didn’t get sick of the food, drinks, fun, people, beach, pool or sun, and we definitely didn’t get sick of each other! Last year, we didn’t socialize much and this year we socialized with the best of them! In the end, each individual person determines their own joy. People whine and complain about the craziest things, but in the end it’s their loss. We had so much fun with no regrets and no complaints. We have memories forever.

Until next time...Fill your life with lots of love and laughter.

Don't miss this bonus video...and turn up the volume :) Cheers!

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dena bourgeois said...

i loved your review and all your pics! we are heading to live aqua in january, our first time at the resort, and your review made me even more excited to go! thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog... I am headed to Live Aqua in 2 days and I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Sharon Wolters (a/k/a Sunny Palace) said...

I just spent the last hour reading and looking at your blog - totally awesome.

We are Sun Palace folks (for the last 6 trips)~ we'd love to try something new and I think you've convinced us - you should be in advertising/marketing for Live Aqua!

Honestly, I know this took a lot of time and patience to post your photos complete with comments. I want you to know how much I appreciate it - I'm copying and pasting and sending it to hubby for his enjoyment too!

Thank you! Thank you!

~Sharon (from Michigan! Hey neighbor!)

Shannon said...

Thanks so much Sharon! You are correct...these posts take A LOT of time! Especially on a trips like Live Aqua where there are so many little details to organize. I try to write so it's helpful to other travelers as well as entertaining to our family and friends. It means a lot to know you have found it so useful. Thanks again and have fun!