Is Right for you?
Whether you are traveling to places like Mexico or the Bahamas there are so many options for all-inclusive and non-inclusive hotels. It may be confusing whether the package would be worth purchasing or you should just choose your own adventure once you get there. When people ask my preference on exclusive and non-exclusive hotels, I usually need a little more information before I can recommend what is right for their particular getaway.
ALL-Inclusive Route. The great part about all-inclusive hotels is that you really do not have to worry about making very many decisions. It is not even necessary to leave the resorts property at all if that’s what suits you. In choosing an all-inclusive hotel, internet research and word of mouth are gold! There are so many experiences you can have with an all-inclusive package, and each one may be totally different from the other.
The Mega All-Inclusive Resort is that resort in which they have a nightclub, multiple pools, and the property is so grand you will definitely get lost at some point, particularly after lying in your beach cabana and indulging in an open bar. Why its not ideal for everyone is the adult beverage options. The cocktails and wine are not exactly what a sophisticated palette is looking for. If you are a Corona drinker, your set! Also with the properties are so massive that its challenging getting a personalized guest experience, as regards to service.
What’s great about these large mega all-inclusive resorts is they are so huge that you have a lot of food options and rarely need to worry about making dinner reservations (which you may have to at the smaller type resorts, depending on the time of year and hotel occupancy). Other perks consist of karaoke lounges, hotel activities, kids clubs, and lazy river pools and slides. Personally, I think these type of properties are conducive to families or a big group. These resorts also are more budget friendly than others.
The Smaller Luxury Adults Only All-Inclusive Resort is one I am a fan of. When I say smaller, to clarify, I mean it doesn’t need its own area code but in no way is tiny. I find this type of all-inclusive hotel a tad more relaxing. I appreciate the attention to detail I see from the second I walk in to the second I leave. These properties have more of a modern spa like decor for ultimate relaxation. They also have cool activities such as premium tequila tastings.
Swimming up to the bar and plopping down on an underwater bar stool you have top shelf spirit options available for complementary consumption.
I recommend this option for couples traveling or even if going with a friend. —Although let me warn you…if you DO decide to go with a friend, be careful in which one of these hotels you choose before you go. Do your research. Some adult only hotels are literally ALL COUPLES. If you are looking to meet hot guys and party with your bestie you need to look for a different scene. Although luxurious, some of these resorts = not the place to meet single dudes.
Just a heads up, even the pricier all-inclusive experiences do not include EVERYTHING.
This is common sense to most, but I did see some loser argue over this at a hotel because it wasn’t obvious to him that the super premium Don Julio 1942 Tequila is available but not included.
You still will have to pay for the optional add-ons as well such as a massage, private beach cabana, and that Napa Valley $150 bottle of Cabernet you want with dinner.
One of my favorite advantages of any and all of these all-inclusive resorts I have visited is the included 24 hour room service and the stocked mini fridges. This leads to an overindulgence, but you are on vacation so I say go for it!
Opting for everything included. There is a strong argument for going it alone if exploring is more your thing. Some people prefer this, and I get that. Discovering new restaurants in different parts of the city or town you are visiting makes the experience that much sweeter. On the occasions where I have opted for the all-inclusive packages, I only eat meals at the hotel and I later wished I would have tried some of the local fare. Stumbling upon some of the best food I have tasted in my life often began with me walking down a random street in Greece, Italy, or Hong Kong and just taking a chance on a spot that was unknown to me (aka not recommended to me by a friend or in my Lonely Planet Guide).
I have enjoyed
When traveling sometimes I want to be a princess and have it all waiting for me upon my arrival. I am in full on vacation mode and want everything as convenient as possible.
PRO-TIP #1 Bring as many $1 and $5 US dollar bills as you can (for TIPPING, shopping, taxi’s, jet ski rentals-$20’s, etc…) when you go to Mexico. Most resort type areas take U.S. currency so there is no need for exchanging your money to Pesos. Also, just bring cash in general because if you have to go to the ATM you are only getting Pesos back out of the machine and you never know exactly how much you will need. You could end up having left over pesos and by the time you pay the currency exchange rate to get U.S. dollars back, it may not be worth it.
PRO TIP #2– FOR ALL-INCLUSIVE- TIPPING = goes a long way and a lot of people just don’t do it for whatever reason. Yes, some of these resorts state on their website that gratuity and/or a service charge is included. From my experience, working in hospitality across the U.S. and internationally, I have seen ALL;SOME; or NONE of the “service charge” filter its way back to the actual staff that is taking care of you. Granted, I have never worked at an all-inclusive hotel, but I find it natural to tip someone I see hustling poolside to bring me drinks and food. I enjoy the attention and care that I get when I show my appreciation through a tip, and the gesture can go a long way in providing outstanding service (just like being nice to a person can…duh).
And yes I know I have heard the argument “well the point of an all-inclusive is the carefree – travel light – attitude of not having to bring money with you. To that I say, you are bringing your phone, sunscreen, camera, etc.. with you to dinner or to swim, so why can’t you throw some cash in your pockets or purse to tip? Right.
PRO TIP #3 Airport Transfers, Activities, Etc… Do not pay for these before arriving, especially if you are on any sort of BUDGET. Paying ahead of time usually = overpaying. Price things out once you are there.
I went to Cabo once and I pre-paid my airport transfer (basically a van taxi) and charged at least double what it would have cost me to get to the airport if I would have just paid once I arrived and departed. Also fun fact-there was no record of my arrival or departure. Obviously you do not want to skimp on your safety, but I find it easier to get a lift spontaneously for a lower price.