If you’re planning an all-inclusive trip all of the main vacation elements such as food, entertainment, accommodations & activities are all taken care of in one handy package in one location. All-inclusive resorts were created to make vacationing as straight forward as possible with little to no planning involved. The idea is you arrive at your destination and just enjoy! Although it’s easy to fill up your days with good food & activities at an all-inclusive that doesn´t mean your trip needs to be a cookie cutter version of what everyone else doing. You can still make your time at a big resort feel extra special!
I spend a lot of time at resorts here in Mexico and over the years sitting by a noisy pool has gotten a bit old for me. Personally I love to find little simple ways to make my time at all-inclusive hotels feel a little more exclusive. I don´t mean exclusive in the V.I.P. sense of the word but more just carving out my own little spot at such a big busy hotel and finding my own things to do away from the crowds. I look for ways to bring some quiet to my day, feel a little closer to nature and to truly enjoy my time with my daughter. Sure we still spend lots of time in the chaos of the main activity pool, we´re super social constantly making new friends, we eat at all of the restaurants and hang out in the busy lobbies at night but that all is exactly why it´s even nicer to make an effort to find simple ways to make all-inclusive vacationing feel private and more memorable.
Here is a list of 8 simple no cost or low cost things I recommend everyone should try during their next trip…
1. Watch the sun rise
To me this is one is a must! Cancun and the entire Mayan Riviera coast face east and since the sun rises in the east and sets in the west we get some of the most beautiful sunrises here. Sure you have to wake up super early on vacation but I promise it’s worth it to view an entire sunrise from the beach at least once! It´s one of my absolute favourite things about Cancun! There really is something special about being awake when so few others are and taking in something as magical as the start of a new day. Take in the sun rise and if you’re tired later on from waking so early…just treat yourself to a little siesta.
2. Room Service Breakfast
I find ordering in breakfast compared to any other room service meal can be extra special. It gives you a chance to not feel as if you need to rush off somewhere to start your day. You’re not at home confined to a hectic morning work and/or school schedule so kick back & relax! You can stay in lazy vacay mode in your pyjamas just taking in the quiet of your room while you wait for your meal to arrive. There’s also something quite nice about eating in peace away from the busyness of the hotel restaurants in the morning. If you have a balcony and it’s early enough before the poolside music begins I recommend eating breakfast outside. It’s so nice to sip your morning coffee or tea while listening to the ocean waves & listening to all of the birds help wake up the world!
3. Get off the resort property at least once
For me this is a given as by nature I’m not really an all-inclusive kind of girl but so many of my friends are which is why I always try and encourage people to venture off the hotel property at least for one outing. I get many people are nervous when they travel but all inclusive resorts aren’t exactly the best place to take in a country, its culture or people. The outing can be as big or as small as you’re comfortable doing but I promise that either way it will likely be a highlight of your trip. Maybe you’re up for renting a car and going off on your own to visit a cenote & having lunch at a small side of the road taco spot or maybe you’d prefer a great one stop shop tourist friendly excursion like Xcaret. Depending on the location of your hotel you might even be able to just go off walking to explore the area. Either way I promise the time you spend off the resort will become memorable and stand out from the rest of your trip!
4. Lie on the beach at night
Here’s a little secret about me…I love heat but I’m actually not a huge fan of intense mid day sun. I’m very much an early bird vs. being a night owl but I’m in no way a sun worshipper and am constantly looking for shaded places to duck into. I enjoy my time in the sun early or late in the day but you’ll never catch me purposely laying out in sunshine at 1pm. Well one of my all time favourite times on the beach is actually just before and after sunset! I find at hotels the beaches and even most pools start to thin out between 4-5pm. Usually it’s because most guests have already spent an entire long day by the pool swimming, eating & drinking and are tired. The sun can definitely make you feel drained pretty quickly. In addition, most vacationers want to head back to their room to shower, rest and start to get ready for dinner. Although our sunsets here aren’t very grand (since our coast faces east) we often still get lots of pretty colours from the setting sun spilling on to the ocean side. The beach usually isn’t completely empty at sunset but is quiet enough to really enjoy watching how the sky and clouds slip from day to night. If you stick around until it’s completely dark out or venture back on to the beach maybe after dinner take some time to lie in the sand and look up! Although cities like Cancun & Playa del Carmen closest to the hotels here are busy cities…they aren’t necessarily big cities so they don’t throw off a ton of light pollution from skyscrapers. I’m still always able to see tons of stars, shooting stars & satellites up in the night sky!
5. Go for a walk
I know most people end up getting in tons of steps during a stay at a large resort just because of the sheer size of some of these properties alone but I´m talking about the kind of walk that´s intentional. And not just a morning exercise walk but more of a leisurely exploration walk. I make this a must do activity for my daughter and I at every single hotel we visit with each different stay. We head off on a slow paced walk to take in all of the sights and sounds around us. I find there are so many areas and neat things to see at resorts that most guests miss because they´re usually too busy power walking from their room off to breakfast, than to reserve a lounge chair by the pool and then to get back to their room later in the afternoon. I recommend a walk to just wander around the property taking everything in with no real agenda. The resorts in Costa Mujeres and especially all throughout the Mayan Riviera tend to sit on extremely large pieces of land so there´s no shortage of places to explore and so worth doing. Often this is something we do in the middle of the hottest part of the day to break up the time we spend by a pool at that time.
6. Take a mid-day siesta
Who doesn´t love a vacation nap? I think holiday naps for kids and adults are a holiday must! If not everyday it´s absolutely worth it to allow yourself to slip into a guilt free nap at least one day during your vacation stay. Maybe that means heading back to your hotel room to close the curtains and get the air conditioning temperature just right. Maybe it means finding a hammock or lounger somewhere off in the shade. Maybe you´re happy just passing out right next to a noisy pool with a hat over your head. Whatever works best for you allow yourself to rest enough to make it happen because vacation siestas are the absolute best!
7. Take a private shuttle to your hotel
Depending on how you’ve booked your all-inclusive resort vacation many packages include ground transportation to and from the airport. Having it included is great but if you’re able to splurge a little extra, getting a private transfer to your hotel is worth it. The reason is often the included airport transfer isn’t private and many times isn’t even exclusive to your resort. If the airport transportation is through a vacation tour operator like Best Day or Sunwing the transport bus you’re hopping on at the airport may have to make several stops to drop vacationers off at various different resorts along the Riviera Maya coast. If you didn’t have a direct flight or especially if you have kids the luxury of a private transfer is money well spent to help start your vacation off on the best, relaxing, hassle free foot possible!
8. Try foods you wouldn´t normally eat
A great thing about all-inclusive resorts is the food. Your meals and snacks are already included and the food is actually the benchmark most measure how high a hotel ranks. It´s what I hear people mention most often when talking about a resort as they quickly ask ¨how is the food?¨. These resorts know how important the meals are so they aim to please with great quality and lots of variety. There is usually a Mexican restaurant at the resort and chances are they´ll be serving up more than just standard tacos. Really take some time to go through the menu and maybe try something you´ve never had before! Quintana Roo is located in the Yucatan Peninsula and many area restaurants will have some great Yucatan dishes on the menu. Look out for items like Sopa de Lima, Cochinita Pibil, Queso Relleno & Poc Chuc just to name a few. There is also usually an Asian inspired, Mediterranean or French restaurant at the resort. Try them all! You´ve got nothing to lose as it´s all included and a great opportunity to do some taste testing and hopefully even find some new favourite dishes.
Whether you prefer to be right in the middle of the loud music and activities by the main pool at an all-inclusive resort or hanging out on the beach, I promise adding in some super simple moments of quiet away from the rest of the hotel guests will round out your vacation in a memorable way. Use my list as a reminder to help you slow things down next time you´re in paradise and I know it will help fill your vacation mode bucket with happiness, rest & relaxation.