So here we are, finally. After just over six years of dawn wake-up calls and holidays when we might just finish reading a solitary book between games of beach football, we are finally alone again – being transferred by golf cart through a mangrove forest to a hidden five-star hotel.
“To the left is our adults-only pool,” says our personal concierge as we instinctively look right. But turn left we can, as this is not some strange Instagram fantasy dream. It is our first proper holiday without our son and we are at the Hotel Esencia near Tulum on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.
Despite being on one of the most rapidly developing coastlines in the world, the first thing that hits us is the calmness – an unfamiliar feeling back home.
The hotel was previously the residence of an Italian duchess and still has big manicured lawns home to peacocks and large lizards, where afternoon tea and cakes are served every day. It has been taken over by Kevin Wendle from New York, who has turned it into a showcase for art and design.
We are shown to our room – a jungle suite that looks like it came straight off the pages of a minimalist design magazine – and now for the big question. When would we like the complimentary basket of pastries and coffee delivered to our room in the morning? No more checking when breakfast starts for us and the other sleep-deprived parents of excited young children.
Suddenly we have time. Time to relax, time to read, time to… head to the bar and watch a Caribbean sunset.
Oh, the guilt of seeing the gently sloping tropical beach, our son would love it here. But a couple of hibiscus margaritas – recommended by bartender Joshua – and then a couple more before fish tacos washed down with a surprisingly good Mexican rosé and family life in south London seems a long way away.
Apart from the occasional brown water from the taps, everything about Hotel Esencia screams international fashion jet set. The man in the next suite is a well-known fashion designer, actress Jenna Coleman has just left and a socialite from New York is hosting a private dinner for her friends.
A Mexican fiesta is laid on and social media is soon buzzing with perfectly constructed selfies on the beach, by the pool, and of the dinner.
After 24 hours we move on very quickly from any lingering feelings of guilt and rediscover our pre-son holiday rhythm with amazing ease. We may not quite fit in, but our every whim is being catered for – ice-cold water is even delivered in buckets to our sun loungers on the beach.
To add to the other-worldly sense of the whole place, the latest advert for soft drink Sprite is being filmed on the sand. One of the producers tells us that it is to highlight the firm’s fightback against plastic waste. Only there isn’t much plastic waste at Hotel Esencia – so Sprite have had to bring its own and spread it liberally along the beach for the filming. It soon disappears again.