A Guide to Staying at an All-inclusive Resort

I distinguish myself as a traveler, rather than a tourist. Ben has adopted this mantle too. The difference? How each handles differences. A traveler embraces, while the tourist compares. “This place/meal/person is amazing,” “Or, it is better back home.” So, does a traveler travel, while a tourist ‘vacations’? Not necessarily. Most of the time we travel, but on occasion we ‘vacation’, so what do we call ourselves when we stay at an all-inclusive resort? Lucky buggers.

We have now done two all-inclusive trips, both to Mexico. This past Christmas/New Year we went to the SolMar in Cabo, where we had a view of the Pacific and the pool. The weather just happened to be a prefect 78F every day, and we had a brilliant 8 days, 8 nights. So, how can one make the most of an all-inclusive resort, without becoming a whiny tourist? Read on…

One: Be nice to the staff.

You’re going to see a lot of them, especially because in Mexican resorts most of the staff work very long hours. The person who serves you your breakfast may also bring your your nightcap. So, smile. Learn names. Thank them. Ask for things politely. And tidy up your room before housekeeping comes. Your mum doesn’t work at the resort and no one wants to pick up your dirty knickers.

Two: Work your way through the menu.

On day one, the 12 choices on the breakfast menu will seem like a lot. By day 5 you will be missing your Cheerios. Variety is the key to enjoying a week of cooked resort breakfasts.

Three: Eat out.

Just because your stay includes 3 squares a day (plus snacks and drinks), it doesn’t mean you must eat every meal at the resort. You are on vacation, so don’t worry about getting your money’s worth by restricting yourself to the one menu. Find the little out-of-the-way cafe or restaurant where the locals eat. These places can be gems, especially in Mexico. We ate here on New Years’ Eve and it was amazing: Los Tres Gallos.

Four: Eat in.

Take advantage of the fact that you have already paid for your meals at the resort, so plan for some dinners in. And splurge for a nice bottle of wine, if only house wine is included with your dinner.

Five: Plan some adventures.

Step away from the cabana and the sun lounger and the all-you-can drink Margaritas, and plan a cool day trip or two. Ben and I decided the best way to do this, is have an adventure sandwich. relaxing morning, adventure activity in the afternoon, and back to the resort for a relaxing evening. And if you skip this step, you may get ‘resort fever’ which is very much like cabin fever, even if you are outside by the pool. Mix it up. Get out there, especially if you are somewhere you have never been before. A lot of people claim to have gone to Hawaii, or Mexico, or the Caribbean, or Fiji, when all they have really done is sit by a pool that happens to be in one of those places. This is the behavior of a tourist.

Six: Plan some lounging time.

You are on vacation. It cannot all be, ‘go, go, go.’ Plan some time to sit by the pool or beach and read, sip cocktails, and talk at length with your spouse, lover, or both. This part of the trip is muy, muy, importanto and part of the reason you booked a stay at a resort. Recharge. Relax.

Seven: Do not be the drunk, obnoxious asshole who talks too loudly and treats the staff like crap.

If this is you, do everyone else a favor and stay home.

Eight: Beware time share.

If you are offered an unbelievable deal on excursions with the proviso that you attend a meeting/breakfast/tour/party that is only 90 minutes, don’t do it. Time share sales people will suck your soul along with your time.

Nine: Learn the local language.

If you are leaving the country, at least learn the basics. Hello. Good bye. Please, thank you, and good night will get you a long way. People appreciate the effort even if your accent is atrocious.

Ten: Have a brilliant time.

We did.