Dawn McCoy is a writer, tv personality, beauty & lifestyle expert, and an avid traveler. This summer, Dawn and 4 of her closest friends “GirlsMooned” (can that be a verb?) in Mayakoba, Mexico, situated on the Caribbean beachfront. Below, Dawn dishes about how she planned the perfect tropical girlfriend getaway at the Andaz Mayakoba resort, and how she continues to learn from her friends, whom she’s been fortunate enough to know for 20 years.
The beach of Mayakoba, Mexico is filled with the ghosts of my friends as I write this.
Not because they’ve passed on – but rather because they’re not here anymore. They’ve gone back home to their everyday lives, while I’m here for one extra day, writing about Andaz Mayakoba, the paradise that has been our home for the past 5 days and 4 nights.
I guess that’s the downside of a GirlsMoon – the “moon” can’t hang out here forever. The sun, at some point, must rise and replace the moonlight where my friends once shined.
As I listen to their echoes, competing with the crashing of the waves, I can hear their laughter.
And, I hear the music.
The music – all of those old college tunes that served as the soundtrack of our lives back in the 90’s. The ones that shock your memory when they sneak up on you on the car radio, and take you by surprise. You not only know each and every word, but remember each and every piece of heaven and heartbreak that the song encapsulates. These were the sounds of many-a-late-night jacuzzi wine-and-gab sessions as we found ourselves surrounded by a tropical paradise.
We agreed before we parted ways that even with all of the luxury here, those were the moments we’d remember most, but it’s hard to pick just one with all of the memories we have created here.
What exactly is a GirlsMoon?
The year before we turned 40, my best college girlfriends and I knew that we would take this trip. We may not have known where we would go, or that we would laughingly refer to the trip as a “GirlsMoon,” but we knew it would be the perfect way to welcome in our 4th decade together. No husbands. No boyfriends. No kids. No responsibilities.
Just the 5 of us together – the way it used to be in the old days in the dorm. Hence, a GirlsMoon was born.
It’s all about picking the right place
As much as inviting the right pack of gals is integral to a successful GirlsMoon, it is also crucial to pick the right place. Think of it this way: remember how on Sex & The City, New York was always the 5th lead character? Well, choose wisely for your GirlsMoon, and you have one heck of a cast, and one HELL of a show. Choose unwisely, and it can be downright distracting or disastrous.
As the travel and lifestyle writer of the group, I took it on as my personal charge to find the perfect home for our trip. I also came up with the name – much to my friends’ chagrin at first, but I digress.
agree on expectations
The first step in hosting and curating the perfect GirlsMoon is to get really clear about what your group of gals wants. Begin by asking your friends – and, yourself – what you want out of your vacation. We all agreed on a beach vacation with the following elements: an oceanfront view, delicious dining, inclusive food and beverage options, and we wanted it to be a place we wouldn’t want to leave during our stay. I researched numerous hotels and resorts and even posted on social media asking for suggestions. My goal was to find a resort that felt luxurious, sophisticated, and warm, because I wanted my friends to have the same VIP service that I get to enjoy when I’m writing a travel piece.
It was like Goldilocks – many suggested destinations that were close to what we were looking for, but none were juuuuust right. When Andaz Mayakoba reached out, my search stopped immediately because for us, it was the clear choice. We could all fly in to Cancun from our respective cities, get settled, eat and drink to our hearts content, spend quality time together, and not leave the property for 5 days.
get your spirit on
When I travel anywhere, I like to discover something new; a new food, activity, or ritual that I can bring home with me. Upon arriving at Andaz Mayakoba, we were greeted with an ancient Mayan ritual, something I knew my spiritual-minded friends would appreciate. The ritual begins with a Mayan cocktail (virgin option, as well), sitting down after your arrival and relaxing, and then making a wish as you toss a crystal of your choosing into the pool of the cenote (Mayan for cave). That’s right. I almost forgot to mention. The lobby is an outdoor cave! A ritual of cocktails, relaxation, and crystals – count me in anytime!
This set the tone for a getaway focused on relaxation, reflection, and restoration. Once we were settled in, we took that relaxation to a whole new level with a yoga class. This wasn’t just any yoga class. Our world-renowned teacher came to our suite, accompanied by a flutist, and led the private class on our oceanfront patio. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before!
slumber party – VIP STYLE
When selecting your accommodations, make sure your entire group is on the same page. Do you all want separate rooms or to stay together in a suite? Since we wanted to relive the closeness of our dorm days, we opted for the Presidential Suite – an oceanfront villa with a private pool, an upstairs deck with a spa, a full kitchen, living room, and backyard. While it might have felt indulgent, split between 5 folks, it was a much better deal to spend a little more and forego our own rooms or suites. It was a dream-come-true to reconnect and reminisce with one another in such a luxurious setting. We sure have come a long way since the dorms!
No slumber party is complete without a face mask! Being the little gifting fairy that I am, I left care packages on each pillow with some of my favorite products from Kate Somerville, Masque Bar, Ora Delphine and more. The little touches truly can make the biggest impact as long as they’re given from the heart.
don’t forget Self-care
Wherever your group is headed, make sure to build some self-care time into your schedule. On this trip, we visited Naum, the spa at Andaz Mayakoba. We all opted for massages and/or facials, and every single one of us left saying it was one of the best – if not THE best – treatments we’d ever had. We especially loved how the resort carried its spiritual component from check-in to our spa experience. Before each treatment, guests are asked to select one card from The Four Agreements deck that “speaks to them.” Afterwards, while we raved about how relaxing our treatments were, we also shared which card we selected and what it meant to us.
Perhaps the most satiating spa experience of all was before our treatments, partaking in a 4-step hydrotherapy experience, sitting in the sauna together, and talking about ex-loves, current loves, dreams that have come true, dreams that haven’t, and new dreams on the horizon. Those are the memories that only an epic vacation shared by close, old friends can breed.
Indulge – don’t deny
While you could detox on your GirlsMoon, why would you want to? This is your time to catch up, sit back, and reconnect with your friends. The key to staying healthy on vacation is to make sure you’re still moving your body, while also taking advantage of the healthy offerings wherever you are.
With this in mind, we went on long walks, swam in the resort’s pools, and as I mentioned earlier, we enjoyed a private yoga class. As a result, we were able to enjoy the poolside quesadillas and margaritas from OllaTaco and ceviche and mojitos from OllaCeviche, knowing we were being mindful of our bodies fitness needs as well.
Meanwhile, at the daily breakfast buffet at Cocina Milagro, I became close, personal friends with the chilaquiles chef, thank you very much, and while the plentiful healthy offerings tended to speak to me, I could never pass up his chilaquiles calling my name. It was one of the best breakfast buffets we’d ever had!
On our final evening, we treated ourselves to a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the resort’s Executive Chef, Miguel Gomez, prepared a delicious dinner for us in our beachfront backyard.
From the casual to the fine dining experiences, we enjoyed each meal as we allowed ourselves to indulge and enjoy without guilt. That is what a GirlsMoon is all about, after all.
Savor your alone time together
As I mentioned earlier, every night, after our dinner and evening activities, we headed back to our abode for a little quality time together before turning in. There, we sat in the hot tub, listening to the songs of our nostalgia, reflecting on who we were then, who we are now, and where the two versions of ourselves meet today. Those times alone were worth the added cost of the VIP accommodations.
As you can see, Andaz Mayakoba – was beautiful.
No, not in that easy-to-say kind of way.
I mean BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful.
But I also want to tell you about the girls who inspired this Girlsmoon getaway.
What I take with me from my first Girlsmoon and from the girls that ‘mooned with me
On our last evening together, I went around the jacuzzi, sharing with each of the girls what they have taught me in our 20 years of friendship.
From Jenna, I have learned that sometimes it’s not the friends who are loudest whom we hear most in our heads and hearts. Sometimes, it’s the friend who always shows up, thoughtfully shares her wisdom and experience, and just listens when no wisdom will help.
Cathleen has shown me in spades that a loving family can be the center of your world, and to trust that even though your own family growing up may not have been perfect (because there’s no such thing), your history has little to do with the family you end up forming for yourself.
Mary Beth has been instrumental in teaching me to never underestimate who you can be. After dating a guy in college with hopes at the time of marrying him and becoming a dental hygienist, wife and mother, today, her life is different than she dreamed back then. Today, she is indeed a wife and mother, married to the love of her life (an even better guy than the guy from college, I’ll have you know), and happens to be one of the most successful dentists in Tennessee.
And, with Vanessa, I have seen that the plans we make don’t always end up coming to fruition. Often, the reality that shows up in their stead can end up making a life you never even knew to dream about. Those unexpected turns – like the surprise gift of an unexpected child – can end up being the golden threads that sew a beautiful life together.
Like a trip on which I fell more in love with my best friends?
Well, that trip – and, that place – has forever forged a place in my heart.
In all of our hearts.
So, what new light will you discover on your GirlsMoon with your own girlfriends? Well, that’s for you to know and then to shine onto others.
Thank you, Dawn! We can’t wait to gather our friends for a GirlsMoon of our own!
Plan your own girlfriend getaway or solo trip with some of our favorite tips and essays:
10 Tips for Summer Travel, Eat Well, Travel Often, The Healing Power of Solo Travel, Beauty Packing Advice from a World Traveler (Bonus: Hair Tutorial), and Cameron, Drew, and Reese: Getaway Tips for Planning Your Girls Vacation.