The all-inclusive holiday is the way to go if you want complete relaxation and a totally hassle-free break; and Mexico is the destination to head for. With its holiday hot spots of Cancún and the Riviera Maya, it feels as if the concept of the perfect pamper holiday was invented for Mexico. Crystian Alatorre, an RCI staff member based in Indianapolis, in the US, shares his experience and love of the Mexican all-inclusive holiday.
"I wasn't a believer in all-inclusive holidays for a long time. However, having now taken a number of them, I understand that the all-inclusive experience goes beyond food and drink. It is about high levels of service; being served breakfast in bed or on your balcony, for example, as the mood takes you. It is about having no worries or stress; you can put your wallet away in your safe and then start to indulge as much as you want.
Having bought your holiday at a set price, with a clear menu of what is included in the price, you can indulge as much as you want without having to worry about the cost. I was born and raised in Mexico City and so may be a little biased when I say that Mexico is a fabulous holiday destination. I now live and work in Indianapolis, but I still head for Mexico for my vacations, and I will always book an all-inclusive holiday experience because of the high-quality accommodation and the great value for money that all-inclusive breaks represent.
The all-inclusive holiday is definitely time for a pamper... It is a holiday that keeps on giving. As an example of the value that goes beyond having all your food and drink on tap and paid for, consider my girlfriend's hair and beauty sessions. She will have a makeover on resort - hair style, manicure, pedicure - and using resort 'Inclusions' or the credits you get to spend on resort, those sessions will cost her no more than about $60. Back home, in the US, my girlfriend would be spending close to $300 on those treatments. She's happy and I couldn't be happier!
One of my favourite all-inclusive resorts
If I am looking to take a holiday with friends where we want to enjoy just being together, having lots of laughs, enjoying great food, drinks and entertainment, all coming free from the stress of going out and having to organise it, then I head for UNICO Riviera Maya Resort (DI33).
This is an adults-only all-inclusive resort and, though certainly a luxury resort, it offers the most amazing value deal for RCI members. Among the many flexible packages this resort has on offer, RCI members can currently pay for a four-night stay (there is an all-inclusive fee to pay in addition to your exchange fee when exchanging into all-inclusive resorts to cover the food and drink elements of your holiday) - and then they will get a three-night stay FREE of charge to add onto the four paid-for nights, thereby extending their holiday at a great value price.
There is even greater value to be had by paying a 25 per cent service fee which will take your stay to another level completely. The resort calls this service Inclusions; this service is optional, but Inclusions will drastically reduce the cost of selected activities and experiences, to be enjoyed both on and off resort. You can enjoy unlimited golf, scuba diving, spa treatments, beauty salon services, and even local tours, for just 25 per cent of the full cost. For example, a guided tour of Chichén Itzá, together with lunch and drinks, has a cost per person of approximately $80, but that comes down to just $20 using the resort's Inclusions.
The resort is situated on the Yucatán Peninsula, deep in the south of Mexico. It is definitely high-end accommodation, with high-spec rooms taking the inspiration for their décor from the character of the Riviera Maya, using natural and handmade materials from the area. Its Spanish name means 'unique' and it is fair to say that it is just that. Poolside and beachside service; a mini-bar stocked to your preference; a choice of fragrant essences from which to choose to perfume your room for the duration of your stay; five excellent on-site bars and restaurants; a Local Host Service to provide you with help in discovering and booking all there is to be enjoyed on resort, as well as an insider's guide to the local scene and an introduction to some of its best kept secrets - are just some of the many ways in which the resort staff make your stay here so very special.
Where to start
Among my recommendations would be Park Royal Beach Cancún (1334) because it is so close to the partying lifestyle of lively Cancún, and yet set on a fabulous silver-sand beach with ocean views - perfect for relaxing. You can, of course, take advantage of the scuba diving to explore the area's coral reefs if you want a little more adventure. A few kilometres up the shoreline, there is a ship wreck and the Underwater Museum of Art in Isla Mujeres with 500 fascinating sculptures to keep you occupied. Tours are also available from this resort to many attractions, although there is enough in Cancún itself to keep you busy the whole holiday, with its 25 kilometres of boulevard shopping and restaurants, as well as some of the world's most beautiful beaches, for when you simply want to flop and drop. Back at the resort, you have a choice of dining options and bars at which you can indulge without having to reach for your wallet, together with a great service from a really friendly and efficient staff, always on hand to make sure your stay is as relaxed as you want it to be.
My next choice is perfect for wine lovers. Secrets The Vine Cancún by UVC (C926) is another adults-only resort. It might be a high-rise property, but what it has to offer is rather special once you get inside. The décor is contemporary and elegant, featuring Italian porcelain and teak wood furnishings, all topped off with sleek, private terraces overlooking the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. Service levels are, as you'd expect, high; there are several sparkling swimming pools to choose from if you want to cool off and lounge poolside with a cocktail; there are gourmet dining experiences; branded spirits; an exquisite Secrets Spa by Pevonia which takes its inspiration from the caves and watery depths of the natural cenotes in the area, plus free WiFi if you want to stay connected during your stay.
For me, what sets this resort experience apart is that it is all about the grape and the vine... Spa treatments use grape oils in their make up, while the Sip, Savor & See Dining Experience will take you to neighbouring resorts to give you a taste of a host of wines and complementing cuisines. Unsurprisingly, wine tastings are also a big focus and a real treat at this resort.
Way ahead of its time in terms of encouraging sustainable tourism, Hacienda Tres Rios (A475) is a family-owned resort which put the environment first from day one. It is built on 780 stilts which maintain the groundwater flow and therefore protects the surrounding mangrove ecosystem. An innovative heat exchanger system means that the resort's fuel requirements are reduced to only 30 per cent of what they would normally be. And, of course, there are many everyday processes in place which are designed to protect the environment. It's location in a nature park means it has much to protect for its guests' enjoyment. Though it is in the town of Playa del Carmen, south of Cancún, its location means that jungle trails and nature walks surround the resort for nature lovers, while on resort you can get involved in some fun activities, such as cooking and bartending lessons, scuba diving and snorkelling lessons - useful having Cozumel's world-famous diving opportunities on its doorstep! You have access to a private beach at this resort and, beyond the beach, the Mayan ruins and Cancún itself are just a day trip away. This is a great family getaway.
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya Hacienda (C143) is a great choice for a family holiday. Fabulous service with all the perks of an all-inclusive come as standard. However, this resort has its own water park, Rockaway Bay, with a multitude of slides to provide a thrilling water experience for all the family, from the little ones to mum and dad! The resort's private oceanside beachscape lets guests try swimming, paddle boarding, snorkelling and kayaking, while other activities include tennis, cycling, wall climbing and, of course the music... With Hard Rock boutiques, a Hard Rock Roxity Kids' Club, The Music Lab and The Cavern, great entertainment is in plentiful supply. This resort also offers a 25 per cent service fee, giving guests access to unlimited golf and other such activities for a quarter of the full cost. This resort also offers a book four nights and get three nights' stay free, making this great value for all that you can enjoy at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Remember too, that there are often significant instant savings to be made when you book an all-inclusive holiday. For example, Hard Rock Hotel, Secrets The Vine and Tres Rios all offer round-trip airport pick-ups, as do many such all-inclusive resorts. A taxi would typically cost you about $200 for a round-trip airport pick-up and drop-off, so there is a great saving before you have even started your holiday. Why pay for car hire when you can use the Inclusions and service fees to book a tour for as little as $20?
When I think of the standouts, for me, of my personal all-inclusive experience I think of DJ parties around the swimming pool, 24-hour coffee shops, drinks mixology, great fitness centres with trainers on hand to work with you - and doing yoga, floating on a paddle board!
I recently celebrated my 40th birthday with 20 friends at UNICO Riviera Maya Resort. We just checked in and that was it... We had the best time, with everything taken care of for us without our having to think about the cost each day. It is a great way to holiday with friends and that experience has now converted my friends to the all-inclusive holiday."
If you are already an RCI member, you can use your membership to take advantage of accommodation in more than 4,300 resorts in over 110 countries. Click on the RCI Resort Directory button below to see where you could be holidaying. You can use the resort ID numbers in brackets, in the story above, to check out those resorts on our website. There are 692 resorts across Mexico, so take a look for your perfect pamper holiday.
Don't forget, if you are a member of RCI, you can always check your personalised RCI Account online - or look out for your monthly RCI Account Statement mailings - to be sure that you don't waste any of your trading power or points, and are getting away on all the fabulous holidays throughout the year that you deserve.
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