When you travel, what type of accommodation is your favourite? Hotel? Hostel? Tent? Holiday trailer? Couch surfing? I myself am quite flexible and have tried nearly everything (except couch surfing, but I'd like to one day...) However, in all my life, I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort. Many of my friends had, but not me. And I was curious.
Now, I'm going to guess that most hard-core travelers who read this blog automatically scoff at the term "all-inclusive resort". To me it does sound a bit frou-frou, la-dee-dah, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous and whatnot... but at the same time, I do see their appeal. For years, friends of mine who had traveled to Mexico or the Dominican had returned singing the praises of all-inclusive resorts, with their multiple pools, swim-up bars, beach massages, and never-ending buffet meals. It sounded lovely. At the same time, when I asked my friends what they had seen and done while vacationing, they would flippantly tell me, "Well, we didn't leave the resort. We didn't need to - it had everything there."
|The beach at my resort, the Park Royale Cancun|
This shocked me. To never leave your hotel (yes, a resort IS a hotel) is to kill the spirit of travel. As in, brutally stab the spirit of travel and then rub salt in the wound type of killing. How could you never get out of the hotel zone, see the historical sights, meet some locals, shop and barter with the merchants, or see the flora and fauna of an exotic place in this world?
|The giant piika tree at Chichen Itza, Mexico|
|The dock at the Dreams Resort where the dolphin swim was - beautiful!|
I swam in pools. I frolicked on the beach. I drank at the swim-up bar. I ate (too much) at the buffet dinners. And that was about all I did at the hotel. I enjoyed the creature comforts of an all-inclusive hotel for about the first day, and then it got old. It probably didn't help that I fell asleep on one of the pool chairs and burned to a crisp, but there is only so much of swim-up bars one can take when vacationing solo. However, I am not one to sit idle while traveling, and after the first evening and first morning, I was itching to leave the hotel.
During my stay at the all-inclusive, I was probably there for about five hours (not counting sleeping hours). I was gone during the days, exploring Chichen Itza, swimming with dolphins, sailing on catamarans, and snorkeling at Isla Mujeres. And I was only in Cancun for three full days!
|Sailing towards Isla Mujeres on a catamaran with new friends|
So... the answer to that eternal question: to stay all-inclusive or no? I don't have one for you. I probably would book at an all-inclusive such as the Park Royale again: cost-wise, it was affordable, it covered all my meals, and I had a lot of fun with the staff, who felt bad for me vacationing alone and took it upon themselves to entertain me in the evening at dinners. But it wasn't so costly that I felt guilty leaving it and its pools and swim-up bars behind to explore the rest of what Cancun had to offer. I suppose the answer is up to you and what type of adventure you'd like to have.