The Riviera Maya is one of the hottest vacation spots (no pun intended) and accounts for 40% of the tourism dollars of Mexico. All-inclusive resorts line the Riviera Maya coast to facilitate massive numbers of visitors, and these tourists often feel secure staying at a resort in a foreign land such as Mexico. But in determining whether an all-inclusive resort is right for you, you should consider some little-known facts about such resorts, regarding eating at the better restaurants, the type of alcohol you consume, and the tours outside the resort when you want to venture off the property. This article will aim to show you a few of the snags when staying at an all-inclusive resort and what other options you have in the Riviera Maya.
If you desire more than just buffet food for the length of your stay at a resort, be aware that many Riviera Maya resorts have deterrents in place to not make it too easy to eat at their better sit-down restaurants. Oftentimes, the resort will require you to make a reservation if you want to eat at a sit-down restaurant. While this seems reasonable on the surface, it is actually designed to discourage numbers of tourists from eating at the better restaurants. First, the resort may often require you to make such reservations a day in advance. So, at the very least, if your resort requires this, you will not be able to eat at a sit-down restaurant the first day of your stay!
And they may be able to only take such restaurant reservations during certain hours in the morning, further limiting when you can secure a meal at one of their better restaurants. If you have been up late drinking the night before or if you have a tour reserved outside the resort in the morning, this can be a very inconvenient time. And then the resort will require you to wait in line for the concierge to make the reservation. It is only one line and because of the limited time allowed to place the reservations, the line is often long and requires a long wait, something you may not want to do on your vacation. This is even more frustrating when in the evening, if you stop by one of the restaurants, you may notice that a particular restaurant has many open tables but will not allow you to eat at the restaurant without a reservation. So when researching to stay at any Riviera Maya resort, consider contacting the resort and asking their policy for making dinner reservations.
Another concern if you are thinking about staying at an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya is the quality of their alcohol. Some resorts will advertise that they serve certain top-shelf alcohol. But be aware that some resorts, while they advertise they serve top-shelf alcohol, may only offer such top-shelf alcohol only at particular bars. These bars may not always be accessible or easy to get to. So, if top-shelf alcohol is important to you, inquire with the resort before making your reservations to determine whether they provide such top-shelf alcohol at all their bars or only a select few and how easily accessible those bars are. An excellent tool is the Riviera Maya EZ-Locator which will allow you to search for vacation rentals by owner instead of resorts, and locate only those villas or condos that meet certain conditions, such as whether restaurants are within walking distance or if top-shelf alcohol can be provided in your vacation rental on the Riviera Maya.
Finally, many tourists do not realize that Riviera Maya resorts want to keep the tourists on the property, spending money at the resort. The resort knows it has tourists locked-in, so to speak, so it charges a premium for many services. Tours to explore the Riviera Maya outside the resort are another way that resorts like to charge premium prices. For example, at one resort I know, the resort charges $100 per person for a tour to a nearby ruin. And this is on a crowded bus with other tourists. Now if you like to stay with a group like that and not venture off on your own, then this may be for you. But one can simply grab a private cab outside the resort, pay $25 for a one-way trip to the ruins, and pay $5 for the entrance fee. Round trip that’s $55 and you get the privacy of your own cab, you can explore the ruins at your own leisure, and you didn’t have to wait in line at the resort to book the tour. Consider venturing outside the resort for better deals on tours or exploring the Riviera Maya yourself via a cab or rental car.
So you can see that an all-inclusive resort may offer roadblocks to enjoying yourself, at your leisure, in terms of access and price gouging. If a resort appears too restrictive, an alternate option is to stay at a vacation rental in the Riviera Maya, such as a villa (vacation house) or a condo. All-inclusive resorts can provide a no-worry vacation in the Riviera Maya, but vacation rentals by owner may be excellent options that give you more freedom, choice, and value to explore the Riviera Maya at your leisure.