ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT CONCEPT
When first considering where to stay on your Cancun vacation it might seem like a no-brainer to consider an all-inclusive facility. After all it seems to make sense to pay just a little bit more than the cost of a regular hotel, and have all of your meals included (and in some cases alcohol) in the price. But before you make the decision, consider the big picture.
Yes, all inclusive resorts are convenient, and in many cases less expensive than staying at a comparable class regular hotel where you must buy your own meals. And if one of the main reasons you are going on vacation is to save money, you have a strong case for staying at an all-inclusive. But if your considerations for going on vacation are based on issues beyond just financial, staying at an all-inclusive may not always be the best move.
One of the problems with staying at a resort where all of your basic needs are met all day long is that it becomes difficult to justify leaving the resort. When luxurious rooms and more-than-you-can-eat meals are already paid for it becomes pretty easy to become a "pool potato" and just hang out all day in the same place. As Jerry Sienfeld would say "not that there's anything wrong with that". But if part of the reason you are going on vacation is to experience a new destination, to expose yourself to a different culture, and to see what the world is really like in places away from your own normal environment, you are unlikely to experience as much of these things if you rarely leave the hotel.
In short, the all-inclusive resort concept discourages visitors from every having to leave the facility. Exploring off-site restaurants becomes a little hard to justify when you have already paid good money for 3 meals a day at your hotel. How about checking out that awesome local restaurant recommended by your friend? Or that quaint shop that you heard has all of those cool gifts? Even taking the time to explore the local Mayan ruins might not be enough to get you motivated. It might be easier just to order another umbrella drink and hang by the pool again. Maybe tomorrow you'll go explore the real world. It can be easy to miss or minimize the fun of a new adventure when staying at an all-inclusive.
But here's the good news about all-inclusive's. They don't put locks on the gates. Yep, you can actually leave anytime you want, and the hotel doesn't even care. This may take a bit of willpower for some travelers, but the depth and excitement of trekking out into the real world can add significantly to a vacation. And it won't even cost much money.
A good example of escaping the confines of all-inclusive resorts is my own personal experiences staying at Club Meds throughout the world and in Cancun over the last 25 years. I have always felt that the people at Club Med have done an excellent job of providing an good vacation value in an all-inclusive format. Food, drink, entertainment, it was almost impossible to even think about leaving the resort. But I am a traveler at heart, and whenever I would visit a location that I knew I might not see again for a long time, if ever, I made a plan. I always made it a point to leave the Club and go out and explore the flavor of the local points of interest, people and geography. And I was always glad I did, even thought it may have cost me a few more dollars for off-site meals.
Seasoned travelers have often stated that, when sitting poolside at most resorts, the view is pretty much the same as resorts in other destinations. Laying poolside at a large resort in Cancun is not a whole lot different than laying poolside by a large resort in Hawaii or California. But the locations outside these resorts are amazingly different, with many different things to see and do.
The key to making the most of staying at an all-inclusive destination? Discipline and planning. Make it a point to establish certain days to leave the hotel for shopping adventures, local interest excursions, and yes, even meals. And don't worry about the extra money you spent on meals outside of your all-inclusive resort. A week after you are back home and at your job you won't even miss the money you spent enjoying that fun meal you had at that authentic Mexican restaurant. I guarantee it.