Ready for your next vacation?
At the right price a stop at a Mexican All-Inclusive resort on the Carribbean, Atlantic,or Pacfic Ocean can be quite the deal. All the food, drink, and chill out time in a cabana are included. But with anything that sounds great there are some pitfalls.
I just recently came back from an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. I’ve also been to some in Cancun & Playa del Carmen. While I’m hardly a seasoned veteran, I’ve picked up enough knowledge along the way to instill six tips to make your next All-Inclusive stop unforgettable.
1) Time of Year MATTERS
I’m going to avoid the most common-sense advice of not going in the summer/fall due to the rainy season. Instead, lets focus on going in January. It’s freezing up north and you want all-day fun in the sun. Well, many people are surprised to hear that Cancun gets 7 inches of rain in January. While its unlikely your entire trip will be ruined, it’s quite likely to be affected. Case in Point: A few years ago I went over new years to Cancun and we had 5 out of 7 days of non-stop rain. Quite the buzz-kill. What do I propose then?
If you absolutely want the best shot of great weather consider going to Puerto Vallarta in the winter. They average about 1 inch of rain in January. My five days there were sunny to the max. I still would consider Cancun/Playa Del Carmen in the winter , but its something you should weigh in your decision.
2) Leave The Resort And Save Money
Nothing irks me more than seeing the prices inside an all-inclusive resort gift shop. I tend to have the habit of always forgetting to bring sun screen. It’s Mexico, can’t be that pricey right? WRONG. The gift shops charge up to $20 dollars for a bottle of sun screen.
In Puerto Vallarta this happened to me. So I decided to simply leave the property, go across the street and buy it for around $7 dollars in a pharmacy. I noticed during my expedition that there were some massage places offering a one-hour massage for just $25 dollars. Inside the resort they were being advertised at discount for around $75 an hour.
Do yourself a favor and be willing to leave the property not only to save some money, but see a little bit of the locale life and culture.
3) Do Tip The Staff
Yes I know, its all-inclusive. Why should I even bring money? Here’s my two cents:
Most of the staff in these resorts are over-worked and underpaid. The minimum wage in Mexico would shock many people from the USA & Canada. I think its only right to give them something a little extra for exceptional service by the pool or restaurant. And your generosity comes back two-fold.
Before one of my Cancun trips, I went to the local bank and got some singles to bring to tip staff (thanks to my friend Gennady for the suggestion). I was tipping on drinks at the lobby bar during the day. At night after the show when it was packed, who do you think the bartender returned to every time first when ordering? Sometimes giving a few extra dollars can go a long way.
4) Don’t Stay By The Pool
Unless you have a swim-out room, I would not recommend one facing the pool. Why?
A.M. Zumba classes by the water, children screaming and splashing around, a loud bass playing music. Need I say more?
What I would recommend is a high-floor facing the Ocean. Even if it may come at a small upgrade cost, watching the sunset from your balcony is priceless.
5) Ask For Top-Shelf Liquor
It took me until the last day of my rookie stay at a Cancun all-inclusive to realize I can choose what alcohol I wanted. It may vary from property to property, but many will give bottom-shelf liquor unless asked for a specific brand. So for your tequila shot after dinner go with Don Julio. A vodka fan? Make sure your tonic is mixed with Absolut instead of the hang-over inducing bottle they are pouring by default.
6) Make Dinner Reservations Right Away.
Many people who come to all-inclusive are surprised you need to make reservations for some restaurants. Our best meal in the resort in Puerto Vallarta was at a hibachi-style Asian restaurant. My brother wisely reserved us a spot for the next day soon after checking in. There are only so many slots and its good to plan ahead and know which restaurants you want to try and if you need to reserve or not.
Another mini tip – guys bring long pants! At the Now Amber in Puerto Vallarta they require pants for a couple of the restaurants. I heard some people tell me they left the property just to buy a pair of slacks for dinner! Don’t make that mistake. Pack at least one pair for your trip. Its tacky to wear shorts and flip-flops to every meal anyway.
That’s a wrap for my six tips to make your next all-inclusive stay unforgettable. For those who have been: tell me in the comments what other tips you would give to someone going to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico for the first time.