On this lovely day when New York is expected to get up to 15 inches of snow(!), I thought it would be a good idea to continue the winter getaway series. Let’s go to Mexico!
There are no filters on this picture. The colors have not been adjusted.
We spent our honeymoon at the Valentin Imperial Maya, an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, about 45 minutes south of Cancun. It was my first time at an all-inclusive resort.
Our suite at the Valentin.
One of the pools at the resort.
I know that all-inclusives (and I lump cruises into that category) get a lot of flak for their bad food, long buffet lines, irritating social directors, and crowded pools. It’s the Walmart of travel – a watered-down and lazy way to visit tropical locales. I understand all of these criticisms and recognize that all-inclusive travel can be like that. But I’m going to profile some pros of all-inclusives to consider when booking your winter getaway:
Consider The Circumstances In Which You Are Traveling
I am usually an adventure traveler. I’ve sky-dived in New Zealand, backpacked up the east coast of Australia, and hiked a cloud forest in Costa Rica. I loved doing all those things. But when I was planning my honeymoon, I wanted the most low-key trip possible. I didn’t want to coordinate, plan, organize, and worry about all the moving pieces that often come with a more adventurous vacation. My wedding, while wonderful, was very stressful and overwhelming. An all-inclusive was the perfect counterpoint for that.
Consider Your Travel Companions
All-inclusives are a great option for families traveling with young children (make sure to book a child-friendly resort!), large groups (family reunions, groups of friends), or if you have a family member or traveling companion with health/mobility issues.
One Set Price
A great feature about all-inclusives is that you know exactly how much your vacation is going to cost, which is very beneficial when traveling on a budget. You don’t like what you ordered for dinner? Order something else! Want to try that fancy cocktail you saw at a bar back home? Ask the bartender to make (and if you don’t like it, toss it)! Don’t know if you want to go to the beach or the pool this morning? Go to both!
Excursions are usually extra, so if there are places outside the resort that you want to see, you should budget for that.
We took a half-day excursion to Tulum. Note that the colors were not adjusted in this image.
A Quick Note About Tipping
At our resort, tipping was not mandatory, but greatly appreciated. The staff at the resort were excellent – friendly, attentive, and very hard-working. We brought $100 in singles for the week and tipped at the bars, restaurants, spa, etc. Everyone was extremely appreciative and it’s really not that much, in the long run. I mean, how can you not tip the woman trucking across the hot beach in a full resort uniform to bring me a pina colada?
Suited To Your Needs
There are tons of all-inclusives to choose from in a range of prices, quality, and styles. A week for two at an all-inclusive can be as low as $1500 or as much as $10,000 or more. Some resorts are adults only (like the Valentin) and some are family friendly. Some focus more on food while others have more entertainment options. Checking reviews on TripAdvisor is a good start. Here is a Huffington Post article on the best all-inclusives (includes resorts outside of Mexico). Travel and Leisure note the best affordable all-inclusives.
Everything Is Planned For You
Want to see a show at night? Yes, they have that. Want room service instead of dinner? Yes, that’s included. Wondering what to do when you wake up on the first day? There’s a schedule under your door with a list of activities. There are no logistics for you to figure out.
Mexico – Why It’s A Great Destination
Flights to Cancun are cheap (I did a quick search and found flights for as low as $345 from New York!) and is relatively easy to get to from most U.S. destinations. The airport is completely set up for tourism (you will be haggled the whole way out) and multiple shuttles run to the resorts and hotels at all times of the day and night. Most of the staff at the resorts speak English and the customer service is excellent. Lastly, as you can see from the unaltered pictures above, the beaches are absolutely beautiful.
Next up: Costa Rica!