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Family vacation to Playa del Carmen - Mahekal?

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Hello -

My head is spinning from so much reading - the more information I gather, the less I feel I know, but I think I have stumbled upon something I quite like and would love some feedback from those familiar with the area.

I've been considering a beach vacation this spring (last week of March - not flexible, I'm a teacher) and thought it would be nice to go to the Caribbean - we've never been. Turquoise water, soft sand, hammocks, low key, huts with straw roofs, get away from it all. I hunted, and hunted, and hunted, I asked on the Caribbean forum and got some nice responses, so I searched some more. T&C? Barbados? St. Martin? But nothing hit the vibe I am seeking. Or the budget! Then I began to read threads that suggested I was in the wrong region - perhaps instead a better fit for vibe and budget would be Playa del Carmen, and specifically Mahekal as a resort, and when I visited the website, it became apparent that I might have found "the one."

We're traveling with our 2 year old. It'll be her first flight and her first time spending more than a few hours on a beach. We don't need Sesame Street characters roaming around, we don't need kids clubs, but we also don't want to be so remote that our child will go crazy with boredom. We just want to spend our days relaxing and playing with her in a place that's comfortable but not too glitzy. Rustic, laid back, but with substantial comfort...someplace that I can splurge and get an oceanfront hut (but by "splurge" I don't mean $1,000/night. For oceanfront in a bungalow I would do $400/night and that would be a big deal for us). Someplace we won't have to worry that our toddler is going to lose it after 4 days and nights of formal restaurants, but also where I don't have to grocery shop and wash dishes (this needs to be a vacation for mom, too!) Someplace where we can change scenery if we get bored of the beach, but (unfortunately) no zip lining or climbing through ruins - not this trip!

So my questions are: Would you bring your 2-year-old to Playa del Carmen? Is safety a concern? How about ease of travel (we are coming from JFK). Would you recommend Mahekal as a place to stay - is it child-friendly? Are its restaurants formal or can we be laid back at breakfast? Does its pool have a shallow area? Are the beach waters calm? Is the beach safe? If not at this place, does any resort in this area have a shallow wading-type pool? Is there reliable healthcare nearby, just in case? Proximity of other stuff to do (even if it's just walking through town?) Any reason you'd hesitate to bring your 2 year old here?

I appreciate any feedback.

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