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Children of all ages romping through confetti, happily licking cotton candy-covered fingers, lining up to have their pictures taken in dress-up costumes of their choice — this was the scene before me at the red carpet for The Little Big Club, premiering at Aventura Cove Palace in the Riviera Maya, and it is one of pure joy.
I admit that even I was, for my age, inappropriately excited to see Barney, my personal childhood hero, waddle out onto the red carpet. I even took the opportunity to snap a photo with him along with scores of 5-year-olds.
The All Inclusive Collection has teamed up with HIT Entertainment to bring star power to every kid’s vacation, featuring the world-famous characters Angelina Ballerina, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and, of course, Barney. During my stay at Aventura Cove Palace (to be rebranded as Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in 2013), I saw a good deal of what the Little Big Club has to offer to the resort’s youngest guests. The red carpet ceremony alone featured train sets, custom-made cupcakes, face painting and a large snacks and sweets table (I grabbed a chocolate-dipped marshmallow myself).
I was also treated to a sneak-preview of the clubhouse. Angelina Ballerina gave a dance lesson that featured both ballet and hip-hop moves. I had never seen such a happy group of tiny dancers. The clubhouse featured bright colors and a cute little stage for the celebrity dancer and her friends. Fun, educational activities such as the dance lesson will be ongoing in the clubhouse throughout the day. The activities are themed according to the character’s specialty and provide plenty of different options for a variety of interests. Angelina Ballerina stages dance lessons and ballerina dress-up, while Thomas & Friends caters to the aspiring engineers in the family. Barney provides musical instruments to play for clubhouse sing-alongs, and Bob the Builder oversees child-friendly crafts and construction. The Little Big Club also includes outdoor activities: a Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder Splash Park, Barney’s Tree House and Bob the Builder-themed sandboxes, not to mention a Thomas the Tank Engine ride, which allows kids to actually ride around on a miniature train. The clubhouse’s mini-theater also provides a space for movie nights, talent shows and karaoke, preparing the kids for weekly concerts.
On my last night at Aventura Cove, the children put their new dance skills to use in the Little Big Club concert, when the Little Big Club band acted out a mini-musical that involved bringing Barney and the rest of the kids’ favorite celebrities out onto the stage and even into the audience to interact with the kids. The show integrated kid-friendly versions of modern pop songs with the theme songs from each character’s television show. The show culminated with the band members bringing out mini guitars for all of the children in the audience to play the last song. Everywhere I looked, kids with tiny Fenders strapped across their shoulders danced around with huge smiles on their faces. The performance echoed part of Hard Rock’s commitment to bring music to the hotel experience and to provide fun, educational activities for children staying at the hotel.
As for the resort’s young adults, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya will feature a teen lounge, with music and day-to-night activities for its older young guests, plus large-scale concerts from a wide range of musical genres for guests of all ages.