Debi loves visiting beautiful beaches and resorts – this last year she stayed at Beloved in Playa Mujeres, Mexico and Blue Waters in Antigua. She also visited and previewed several other resorts and shares a little about what to consider when looking at an all-inclusive vacation.
The size of the resort is an essential consideration. Large resorts (400-500 rooms plus) have many restaurants, pools, night clubs and activities…and people. You will likely not run out of new restaurants to try or pools to explore. But it might be a struggle to find a poolside lounge chair or get the attentive service you expect on vacation. Many of the large resorts offer a club level or butler service which can make securing dinner reservations, booking activities or reserving that beach cabana manageable.
Smaller resorts (100-200 rooms) may have only 2-5 restaurants open any given night (some resorts rotate through the restaurants) with fewer menu options, but they tend to be freshly prepared and feature the chef’s specialties. While the pools are fewer in number, you can usually easily find lounge chairs and get personal attention from the bartender or server for the day. These smaller resorts usually don’t offer a higher club or concierge level, but it’s not necessary because every guest receives personalized service.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
All-inclusive resorts are very popular throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Some resorts are on the most beautiful beaches, but most of the beaches are public. While this is fair to the locals who live by the beaches, it also opens them up to vendors walking up and down the beaches all day (hair braiders, candy sellers, artists and drug dealers). If your ideal tropical vacation includes lounging on the beach with peace and quiet…these vendors may wake you from your dreamy state. Some resorts are on more secluded beaches making it more difficult for vendors to access, or if there are only 10 or so people on the beach it isn’t worth the vendors’ effort to go to that beach. Picking the right beach is so important when deciding on your vacation spot. (Note – the beaches may be public, but not the resort or pool areas so outside vendors are never allowed on the resort property.)
Some Caribbean islands such as Aruba and Grand Cayman have a very strong culinary scene on their own so they don’t have as many or as good all-inclusive resorts as other locations that have built tourism around all-inclusives.
SERVICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
All-inclusive resorts range from 3-5 stars. The level of service, exclusivity, included activities, gratuities and extra services all contribute to star ratings and cost. Within the same brand of resorts, properties can vary from 3-5 stars so be sure you have your expectations set correctly when booking.
All-inclusive resorts can deliver a fantastic vacation – relaxing, mostly pre-paid, and hopefully at a resort that fits your personality and interests well.
Looking for an all-inclusive resort experience? Now you know not all-inclusives are created equally, so be prepared to do your homework to find the right fit – or better yet, let us ask you the right questions and help guide you!