During these cold weather conditions, your mind probably is thinking about a warm escape. All-inclusive resorts are a great options for a quick winter getaway. They are reasonably priced and a safe and stress-free vacation. There really isn't too much planning involved.
I went to my first all-inclusive resort at the beautiful Barelo Maya Palace Deluxe. It was about $1500 which included air fare, 7 days, shuttle transportation, food, and access to activities on the resort. The resort is located in Riviera Maya, Mexico. I also exchanged a $200 into pesos beforehand for tipping and to buy other things. Exchanging your money really isn't necessary American dollars are accepted on the resort.
We were dropped off at our resort, and our luggage was taken out of the vehicle as we checked in and were given two glasses of a tasty drink. At the front desk, we received our bracelets that we needed to wear throughout our trip to receive our free meals, drinks, and be allowed to join the activities. Someone then brought our luggage and escorted us to our room. We were told that our mini-bar was included and refilled daily! There was also a complimentary bottle of tequila and grapes for us. It was very exciting and perfect way to start our trip.
Food: On the resort, they have a snack buffet, and then various restaurants for you to eat at for dinner. In order to eat at the restaurants, reservations did need to be made, and you were expected to dress nicer for dinner. Some of the restaurant choices were a Brazilian steak house, seafood restaurant, steak and pasta, and a french restaurant. The dinner selections were of higher quality than the morning breakfast buffet which had a lot of variety, but tasted like bland cafeteria food which was understandable keeping in mind the quantity that had to be made daily. Near the pool was another buffet you could go for lunch which had more grilled foods such as burgers and hotdogs. Sadly, I felt like I was in Mexico and didn't even eat any Mexican food. That you'd have to get off the resort to do, if you were feeling more adventurous.
View: Amazing. We were right by the ocean. The water as so blue and gorgeous. Their were so many pools and even a sectioned off adult pool. For those of you with kids, there was also a kiddie pool as well as a fun activities for kids to participate in. Unfortunately, the pools closed at 7 pm as well as the bars by the pool. There was also no hot tub that we found.
Activities: There are tons of fun activities to choose from if you were looking for it. We got a blast doing water aerobics with the fun and flamboyant instructor. They also had zumba, pool volleyball, mini golf, archery, free scuba diving lessons, free snorkeling rentals (with $50 deposit), paddle boating on large bicycles, and lots of stores to shop at. There were also a variety of shows you could attend later in the evening at 9:30 pm as well as a night club that opened at 10:30 pm. The club was a lot of fun with great music and even a few instructors teaching us dances.
Other features: Luckily with all of the food and alcohol you are consuming, it's easy to keep that weight off if you'd like too. They have a fitness room and sauna you can visit if you'd like. Down on the bottom floor, you can go talk to some tour guides to arrange trips to visit the Mayan Ruins or other adventures.
Mayan Ruins: For about $117, we took a trip to visit the Mayan Ruins, go zip lining, cave repelling, and canoeing as well as get a meal made my the Mayans of today. It was a great adventures. I would highly suggest it for everyone!
Access off of the resort: We took a day trip to visit Playa de Carmen which was about 30 minutes away by taking a shuttle for about $3 each for both ways. It has a lot of great shopping choices to buy souvenirs and get clothes. The beach their is also beautiful so be sure to bring a swim suit so you can jump in. There are a few pushy sales men but nothing too be worried about from what I experienced.
Wildlife: While walking to the mini golf area, we definitely got see a little bit of wild life which was too much for my friend and I. There are a lot of critters running around such as lizards and iguanas. They have signs educating you on the wildlife that you saw. It's interested and fun if you like that stuff, but a little too much for me. But don't worry, it can all be avoided as there is a bus that takes you around to the various locations of the resort. So no walking around in the "jungle" is necessary.
Customer Service: For the most part, I thought the staff did a great job. They were friendly and very helpful. Our traveling mates had mix reviews on the staff at the front desk. The group who had the musty room were not switched into a different room right away. However, another couple who wanted one queen size bed instead of two bed was switched right away. Also, we were only given one key card to share with our roommates. Some were easily given additional room cards while others were not allowed any additional cards. Our rooms were either cleaned too frequently or not frequently enough.
Overall, I had a blast. It was my first all-inclusive trip and was extremely free of stress. There was nothing to worry about. Not everything was included though. The internet access you would still have to pay for as well as room service. There were also some drinks that weren't included as well. More of a side note, since when I travel I enjoy being immersed in the culture, I wish I would have actually eaten a truly authentic Mexican meal and seen more of Mexico. So, if you are looking to see Mexico and not paradise, all-inclusive is not for you. But if you want simple and stress-free definitely come here. However, keep in mind resorts are safe compared to other locations in Mexico. If you've been on a cruise and enjoyed it, you should definitely try a resort. They are essentially the same thing minus the ship.
Let me know if you have any other questions or have any other suggestions for great resorts to visit.