Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth it?

View at Cancun Moon Palace Resort

Are all-inclusive resorts worth it? We decided to give it a go and find out for ourselves.

We travel often and truth be told, its a lot of work. We plan where we’re going, make the travel arrangements, figure out where we are going to stay, and what we’ll do everyday.

It doesn’t sound hard, but it’s exhausting, especially in a new city or country.

Even small daily decisions after a long travel day can take a toll on you.

Travel is something that we love doing, we love finding off the beaten things to do or places to visit that tour buses and the mass tourists don’t get to see. So when asked if we think we would like an all-inclusive resort our first instinct was no.

But, we don’t like to knock travel styles without trying them ourselves so we checked out our first in Cancun, Mexico at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun to find out for ourselves, are all-inclusive resorts worth it?

Let’s start with what we found to be the negative side of all-inclusive resorts and end with the good!

Are all-inclusive resorts worth it? Cons

You’re not getting a real experience
Colorful Market in Mexico City

The vibrant markets in Mexico City

We are going to use Mexico as an example since that is where we enjoyed our all-inclusive resort.

Being in a resort like this you are not getting immersed into any of the local cultures or getting to see or experience what makes the world such an interesting place – different cultures.

By staying in an all-inclusive resort you will not get the experience of sampling some of the best street food in the world, walking through the colorful and vibrant markets, meeting friendly locals, enjoying the energy and gorgeous architecture of just walking through the streets, and stumbling across off the beaten path gems that you won’t find in guidebooks. To us, traveling full time like this would not make all-inclusive resorts worth it for us.

Instead, you will be getting a pampered experience that you could get at home. There’s actually no reason why it has to be in Mexico other than there is access to a beach and warm weather because you can sit at a pool, eat endless food, and sip on drinks all day at home. What makes traveling to other countries special to us is experiencing a different culture. During our trip the beach wasn’t even accessible due to a seaweed attack and red flags on the beach, so really this resort could have been anywhere!

The only excursions available are too touristic
Xochimilco Boat Parade in Mexico City

The authentic Xochimilco experience in Mexico City

Have you ever been at home, desperately wanting to get out of the house but then remembered it’s tourist season and you don’t want any of the hassle trying to find parking, waiting for a seat at a restaurant, dealing with traffic and all that fun stuff that comes with your town being a tourist destination?

Well, that’s what it’s like just outside the resort. Except for this time you are paying tooth and nail to be exactly what you loathe in your hometown.

So that being said, if you do want to leave the resort you can on one of the extracurricular excursions the all-inclusive resort has to offer with their vacation planners. We briefly checked these out and were stunned. Not only were the prices outrageously expensive, but they were way too touristy. We don’t typically knock tourist activities, because that is what we are, but the activities being offered almost had a Las Vegas show vibe to them.

For example, one of the experiences is called Xoximilco. This is a remake for tourists of the actually Xochimilco boats you can experience in Mexico City except its loosely based on the authentic experience and with a highly inflated price with snazzy advertising of mariachi bands and as local Mexican woman passing you a tequila shot.

We looked it up, it was $172 for the two of us including dinner. The real experience in Mexico City was $17 for an entire boat you can share with your friends, bring your own beer and snacks, enjoy mariachi music, AND hang out with the locals. But you can’t get to Mexico City, still it’s an overpriced knockoff tourist attraction. But to each their own, that was just a turn off for us and many of the activities they had available gave us a very similar vibe.

TIMESHARE sales pitches

We hate being asked to join in on timeshare pitches or presentations for freebies. While you can opt out of it we have had bad experiences in the past where slimy salesmen try to sneakily get you to sign up for their timeshare sales pitches, surprise it was in Las Vegas and it really left us with a sour taste in our mouths.

We know people who have timeshares and love them and never plan on reselling them, but we do not want one right now, so no we are not interested and do not want to be asked to join a presentation where the salespeople try to pressure you and break you down to buy a timeshare. If you’re like us and despise being asked, pressured, or approached by salespeople maybe ask yourselves are all-inclusive resorts worth it for you as there’s a good chance you’ll be approached.

To avoid this, just turn the offer down right from the get-go and don’t be enticed by anything “free” being offered.

It’s much more difficult to adventure unless you’re ready to pay a lot
Megan Floating in Santa Barbara Cenote in Homun Mexico not far from Merida

Cenotes we visited on our own in the Yucatan Peninsula

If you’re a bit adventurous like us you will have to ask yourselves if an all-inclusive resort is worth it for you. If you want to adventure, it’s going to be much more difficult to arrange unless you’re ready to shell out a lot of money. Just to get a 15-minute ride to the airport and back was $52. That may not seem crazy compared to US prices, but for Mexico that is ridiculously expensive since we can take a 20 minute Uber ride (no Uber in Cancun sadly) in Merida for $3. Which these little things can add up on top of your premium all-inclusive pricing if you want to do anything extra.

With so many awesome things to see and do in the Yucatan Peninsula from cenotes, ruins, to amazing beaches it would be a shame to come all the way to Mexico and not see any of them. Your best bet if you want to stay at an all-inclusive resort is to stay a few extra days outside the resort and rent a car or rent a car and have it all week while you’re at the all-inclusive resort. Otherwise joining tours means you’ll be headed to the same attractions as a million other tour buses during peak times and not get to adventure out on your own as much.

There are also some great things to do in and around Cancun, getting there can be costly but worth it if you want to see some of Mexico outside the walls of the resort.

It’s not for everyone

This piggybacks on our last point. All-inclusive resorts aren’t for everyone. If you’re not a big partier or you’re an adventurer you might want to ask yourself is an all-inclusive resort right for you? If you like to do lots of activities on your trip it will be much harder to leave your resort unless budget and money is not something you have to worry about. Also, one of the greatest parts about all-inclusive resorts as an adult is the unlimited drinking and eating, if you’re not a big drinker you might not need to stay at an all-inclusive resort as you won’t even be enjoying one of the greatest perks!

Are all-inclusive resorts worth it? Pros

Everythings included in the price

Megan-enjoying-a-drink-at-Moon-Palace-in-CancunOne thing we loved about the all-inclusive resort experience is that we were able to enjoy everything without having to think about is this going to cost us extra? We really enjoyed not having to carry a purse or wallet around and just being able to leave a restaurant when we were done eating. It was a vacation from having to think about money! As silly as that sounds it was sort of nice!

One of biggest frustrations of traveling is the feeling of being nickel and dimed to death at every turn. At an all-inclusive, there isn’t ever that feeling. That right there is a huge plus for us.

When you pay for an all-inclusive resort you are paying to just be able to show up and enjoy your holiday. We really saw the appeal to this and thought this made all-inclusive resorts worth it!

There are a few things that do cost extra, like upgraded alcohol and certain luxury amenities but these are clearly stated. Also, extra excursions outside of the resort do come at a cost but everything inside the resort is pretty much included!

Little to no planning involved

Thatched roof hut overlooking pond at Moon Palace CancunAnother thing we loved about what all-inclusive resorts had to offer would be the fact we didn’t have to plan a single thing other than getting there and getting home. When we’re traveling its constantly one decision after another – an indecisive person’s nightmare. From where to eat, which way to go, where to stay, what to do, and a sort of constant feeling of always feeling somewhat lost.

Even little things add up that wouldn’t normally stress us out add up over time or are escalated when just getting off a long flight or bus ride. It gets exhausting to plan and deal with all the details of every single little trip. But what we LOVED and what absolutely made all-inclusive resorts worth it to us was that we could just show up and not plan a single thing!

Hungry? Great, just roll up to any open restaurant. Bored? Ok, there are tons of things to do available right now. The pool has too many kids or bad music? Great, there are a dozen other pools you can move to or even an adult only pool. Also, since you paid in advance, you no longer have to plan out your budget.

This was honestly a breath of fresh air for us!

Show up and have fun

Having fun in the lazy river at Moon PalaceThe entire concept of all inclusive is just show up and everything’s taken care of so you can just enjoy your vacation. To us, this made all-inclusive resorts worth it! Don’t worry about planning, making decisions left and right, or finding something that you’re entire family will enjoy. There’s something for everyone at all-inclusive resorts that they will enjoy.

We enjoyed just being able to wake up, eat, go to the pool until we got hungry, enjoy poolside or swim up drinks at the bars and not worrying how we were going to get back to our hotel room. If you get too tipsy and need a rest it’s not a big deal, you can go back to your room and order room service 24 hours so you don’t go hungry while you recover.

We loved that every aspect was just taken care of.

It’s a nice way to just RELAX

Megan-at-gorgeous-pool-at-Grand-Moon-Palace-Cancun-Solid-and-StripedEven though we are traveling all the time, we are constantly working from the road. And before we had this job we worked corporate jobs that had us overworked, underpaid, exhausted, and barely any vacation. If you need a vacation where all you do is relax, we can’t recommend this enough. Seriously, all-inclusive resorts are the way to go.

When you show up everything’s taken care of and depending on how long your stay is you may even get a free massage. If not, you can enjoy the workout classes, be lazy by the pool, soak in your in-room hot tub, and just get that well-deserved R&R you need without having to worry about a thing until you get back home.

Plenty of restaurants

Tacos at Moon Palace Resort CancunSomething that really surprised us and what really made our all-inclusive resort experience worth it was the number of restaurants and types of cuisine to choose from. Many all-inclusive resorts offer multiple food options, but the Grand at  Moon Palace Cancun took it to a new level. With everything from a steakhouse to Peruvian food, we were set when it came to getting whatever would satisfy our taste buds.

We have heard mix reviews of many all-inclusive resorts being that the food is mediocre, we’ve only done one experience but were impressed with the number of options we had. While we did have a few mediocre bites, particularly the buffet where the food wasn’t kept at proper temperatures, we were impressed with all the different restaurants and some were so good we wished we had a chance to stay longer to enjoy a few more meals!

Great for families as there are many activities

Megan-in-lazy-river-at-moon-palace-reortAll-inclusive resorts are worth it for families! While we do not have kids yet we have traveled with our family which we have a few nieces and nephews and they would have had a blast at this all-inclusive experience. There were entire areas of the resort designed around to entertain children and families.

If mom and dad want a break they can drop their kids off at the playroom.

We were impressed with how our all-inclusive experience at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun was able to cater so well to adults only like us and families at the same time.

Overall Thoughts – Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It?

Grand Moon Palace Cancun roomYes, depending on the type of trip you want.  Being able to just show up and enjoy ourselves was fun and a breath of fresh air for once. We totally see the appeal to all-inclusive resorts to some travelers especially people who may not have a lot of time to plan, who don’t get a lot of vacation and have stressful jobs, or families!

We stayed at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun and this was an extremely positive first-time experience for an all-inclusive resort, this won’t be our last but we will definitely space these experiences out and save it for when we need a travel planning break.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to an all-inclusive resort? Was it worth it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Disclaimer: We were invited as guests of  The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun, however, all experiences and opinions expressed in this article are our own.

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