Billie and her husband stayed at Freedom Paradise in March 2004.
She is a
great writer and decided to write down her experiences for an Ediets Newsletter, This is what she wrote:
I liked Yucatan better than I have liked anywhere in
a long time. I loved the moist warm air, and the flowers everywhere. I had not
really expected it to be so salubrious; I had expected just plain searing heat.
I had had a rough winter, with asthma and cracked ribs and pneumonia; I was
worn out, and really needed to relax. And I went to the perfect place for that.
It is impossible to feel stress at Freedom Paradise. They say it is the best
stretch of beach on the Mayan Riviera, and I believe them. Also it is uncrowded.
The busiest day had maybe 15 people on the beach at once. It is not a large
hotel, only about 120 rooms, and most people are off touring around during the
day. My husband and I visited some of the famous Mayan ruins in the area (FP
is only a couple of miles from Tulum), and the villages, and the big theme park,
but mostly we were happy to be lazy tourists. Being from the north, living many
miles from the sea, I eagerly allowed myself to be mesmerized by things other
people might take for granted, like the Aquamarine Ocean, and fish, and flowers
and palm trees.
The things that seem to soothe my heart like water and weather.
I just loved being on the beach, with the hot wind and the palm trees and the
colours, and snorkeling and being dazzled that all those critters were living
right there, floating under my feet. Staring at the bright turquoise water,
trying to etch it permanently into my brain. The reef booming in the night,
I guess when the tides changed. 150 meters off shore, and forming new reefs
right up to the sand. It was amazingly cool to me to live with the ocean that
was making life before my very eyes.
I felt like it was holy to put on my water
shoes for a swim, or my mask for a snorkel....I loved it. (I also had the feeling
at Coba ruins that I was walking on sacred ground and was pleased to have the
dust of Mayan history on my sandals) I loved the moon smiling up side down.
All the stars in the dark sky. I love being in water. The hotel has four smallish
pools each about ten paces from the ocean. Very salty ocean, must be from the
reef, I suppose.
There was a gigantic boquet of flowers in our room all the
time. I had requested it, as it was our 33rd anniversary. There was no charge
for this. Freedom Paradise is a three star resort with a five star attitude.
What they lack in amenities they more than make up for in heart. I never imagined
a hotel where the waiters and waitresses hug favored guests once they get to
know you! The rooms are small, tile floors, quite charming, and immaculately
The architecture is like California mission style for the 30 rooms laid
parallel to the beach and about 30 paces from the water. Beside this part there
is another section of rooms with attractive thatched roofs, set in a lovely
garden courtyard. Fountains, birds, luxuriant growth. I never thought I would
be in such a place, it was so completely relaxing and magical. Dreamy. Like
being in a dream.... and highlighted by friendly, funny, fun people.
Mayan people, with one German, one Belgian, one Canadian, and some Mexican men
in management positions. Freedom Paradise is owned by a Mexican company and
it was the General Director, Julio Rincón, who noticed that the plus-size market
was so unattended so he came up with the idea to target this niche. A man from
Holland, Jurriaan Klink, is the Commercial Director who shaped this idea into
the concept to have a size-friendly resort, and the staff all take special sensitivity
training. I understand large travellers have not been flocking to the resort,
however, so it has been opened to all sizes of people. There is a large and
wonderful mural in the open air lobby, though, which makes the philosophy of
the place clear.
Freedom paradise says there is room there for everybody, no
matter size or age or ability, that everybody deserves a lovely vacation. They
say we should not wait until we lose the weight to do the things we long to
do. They make it easy to try the things right now. I weigh well over 300 pounds
and was completely relaxed on the beach there, as I have never been anywhere
else. Also I have mobility problems due to asthma and arthritis, and very much
appreciated that our room was about 30 paces from the dining room, about ten
paces from one of the swimming pools, or from the beach, and the beach itself
is only about 20 paces to the water. The sand is easy to walk on for a heavy
person: your feet do not sink 6 inches with every step. It is very laid back.
There are no clocks in the rooms, but neither was it a problem when we needed
a late check out time the day we left: they don't seem to have a check out time!
The phones were not working, but who cared.....there is a wonderful open air
restaurant with a marvellous view across a fountain and pool to the ocean. There
is another restaurant which was open three or four times during the two weeks
my husband and I stayed there. The food was plentiful and healthy, if not exotic.
I have a history of Montezuma's Revenge in Latin countries, but I did not get
sick at Freedom Paradise, nobody did.
There is bottled water everywhere, the
maids bring two bottles to every room every day, and there is cold bottled water
available all over the place. I am not a liquor drinker, but I had a few excellent
Margaritas and Pina Coladas. It being all-inclusive, I couldn't resist. When
we arrived, it was about 10 pm. There were people waiting for us to take our
bags and help with the wheelchair. In the dining room the head waiter introduced
himself and said "We were worried about you, we thought you were arriving at
7." Although dinner had been over for some time, he offered a sandwich, fruit,
and yogurt, without our asking for it.
This is the way they are there: completely
thoughtful and kind hearted. They have large, armless, sturdy chairs in the
dining room, and very strong chaise lounges by the pool. They are not yet set
up for handicapped people, but they built a ramp so my wheelchair could get
into our room more easily. They always watched to see if I needed help to get
up or down the few stairs I encountered, and if my husband was not with me,
they hurried to take his place. I will never forget the people at FP:
the gracious and friendly, informal head waiter; Liz, the tiny and glowing Mayan
waitress who hugged me when she brought my drinks; Bianca, the slender and helpful
German woman who seemed to be everywhere at once; the graceful Adrianna who
runs the little shop, who reminded me of a queen, and who had a huge, warm heart.
She often hugged me and told me in her halting English, that I was beautiful
inside. Then there was Al, the Mexican manager, who hugged me and cried along
with me the day we left; Tim, the red headed guy from Montreal, and Edgar, his
assistant from Mexico City, who together taught the guests with our less-than-perfect
bodies how to snorkel, how to use the kayaks.
They took guests on snorkeling
trips to the cenotes and the reef, organized beach volleyball, spanish lessons,
salsa dancing lessons, provided board games and cards, snorkels and masks. They
would help you with anything you might want to try, even escorting the restless
young adults to the nightclubs in Playa del Carmen a couple of times a week.
They'll even play with people's kids, although there is no official "kid's club".
They bring excellent entertainment to the hotel two or three times a week, too.
Really top notch. I ask you, how do you not love a place like this? I had the
time of my life at Freedom Paradise and will go back as soon as I can afford
it. If you are looking for 5 star glitz and Cancun parties this is NOT the place.
But if you like to relax and make friends with interesting people, and be treated
like a member of a large, friendly family, this is the place for you. You can
get up early and be the only person on the beach and watch the sun rise and
pave a pink and gold highway across the water just for you.
The maids leave
the towels folded like swans or elephants, complete with frangipani flowers
on your bed. There are a couple of kitty cats that the kitchen staff and guests
feed; iguanas; many kinds of birds including a resident flock of pelicans; and
a couple of very docile dogs who accompanied somebody for a few days. The people
at the hotel ran the place with great affection for it and for their guests.
Also a lot of enthusiasm, having been doing it for only a few months so far....it
was almost a participatory experience, like summer camp maybe..... the staff
ate in the same dining room as we guests did, and were always available to talk
There were many interesting guests including families, pregnant moms,
people from Europe, Canada, and the U.S. Two German women we met had come for
a week, but could not bear to leave, and finally stayed over a month before
they could tear themselves away and return to Dusseldorf. An Ediets friend from
Oregon came to the hotel for a few days. It was wonderful to meet her there,
after sharing a Circle of Winners for so many months.
Freedom Paradise is a
perfect place to meet Ediets friends, I think. I swam a lot. I ate cactus and
omelettes and coconut encased prawns and lots of fruit. I got a lot of hugs
and lots of sun. I renewed my love affair with palm trees. I didnt expect to
love it there so much that I would cry on the way back to the airport to leave.
I was disconsolate for that whole hour and a half drive, until the rainbow came
out and the driver taught me the mayan word for it.
But I forgot to write down
what he said, and my emotional state would not allow me to remember anything,
so it is all lost now, unfortunately. Mayan is not easy to pronounce....and
is very easy to forget....what does remain is the fact of the rainbow and what
I hope is its promise, that I will return sooner rather than later.....(growing
older by the minute here...) I had a dream after we got home, that I was being
carried across water by an eagle. It had me by the wrists,
I was dangling there.
I know, it's probably just a leftover dream from the night flight back home,
but it is at least coincidental that the eagle is the symbol of Mexico, don't
you think? Combine my eagle dream with the rainbow and I'm sure to get back
to Freedom Paradise!