Aerial shot of beach in Cancun
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What does all-inclusive mean in Cancun?

All-inclusive resorts have become super popular in the last few years and as more and more people are dipping their feet into the all-inclusive experience there are a lot of questions about what the experience actually entails. 

Firstly, we want to congratulate you on going down this path as all-inclusive are some of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations you can experience. They can also be of great value as the price you pay (if you have flights included) is going to be 95% of the cost of your vacation. 

It is important to acknowledge though that not every resort is created equal and if you don’t pick a decent resort you will be left wanting on your experience. Below are the questions to think about when you’re choosing an all-inclusive in Cancun. 

What’s included in an all-inclusive vacation? 

What’s included in a package will vary depending on the resort that you go to, but as a baseline, there are a few things that are usually always included. Your accommodation, at least three meals a day, alcoholic drinks throughout your stay, and usually some sort of entertainment.

Access to the facilities like the gym, the beach, pool areas is also standard. These are typically the baseline features, but it’s worth double-checking the resort you are looking at to see if these are on offer.  

There are a number of other features that can be included in all-inclusive packages, but we wouldn’t say they are table stakes. These would be things like top-shelf alcohol. Spa treatments,  rounds of golf, and premium club areas. Some resorts will include these, but there may be an additional fee, so always double-check before booking or taking part. 

Does an All inclusive include Alcohol?

Drinks at All-inclusive resort
Photo by InspoVacay

Yes,  if it’s all-inclusive, it will include alcohol. The biggest question here is more about what type of alcohol is included. A Lot of times the alcohol that is included will be limited to local brands only. Meaning that you most likely won’t be familiar with the labels that you are drinking. If you’re staying in a 4-5 star resort it’s pretty rare that the resort won’t carry international brands, but it’s definitely something you should research before you travel.  

If we take the Finest Playa Mujeres as an example. This is a 5-star offering and there is a huge range of international brands mixed in with some local ones.  You can get the likes of Bombay Gin, Absolut Vodka, Baileys, and Aperol to name a few. You name it and they probably have it. They also have top-shelf options with the likes of Grey Goose, Johnny Walker Black,  Belvedere on offer, but not all guests can access this.  

In order to have access to these top-shelf options. Resorts tend to add these in as an additional benefit if you are part of their premium club offering. These rooms cost more than standard rooms and come with a host of benefits, with top-shelf options being one of them.

Does an All-Inclusive include tip?

Although a lot of resorts state that they include gratuities in the overall cost of your package. It is customary to tip the staff throughout your stay. If you have been to an all-inclusive resort before you know that the level of service that you get in resorts in the Caribbean and South America is top class, no matter what the standard of the resort is. 

When we visit all-inclusive resorts we typically tip in US dollars, just because it’s easiest from a conversion standpoint. We normally bring around $150 in 1 and 5 dollar bills. As a rule of thumb, we tip $1 per drink and between $5 – $10 per meal. This will depend on the level of service and the mealtime. For breakfast, we would typically tip less.

What Food does an All-inclusive include?

The majority of all-inclusive includes all meals and snacks as a minimum. Some if not most resorts will also include 24/7 room service as part of the package, but this is worth double checking before booking. 

Most places will let you eat as frequently and order as much food as you like. The food options are typically broken down into two types of service. The sit-down restaurants and the buffet-style restaurants. There is usually one or two buffet restaurants and 4-10 sit-down restaurants depending on the size of the resort. 

Here there is a separation in the restaurants that standard guest and premium club guests can visit. There are usually one or two restaurants that are reserved for premium club guests only. Typically the food offered here is no different from the other restaurants. They normally are just a little less busy and you can get top-shelf drinks with your meal here. 

What to look for in an all-inclusive package?

When looking to see if a resort is a decent choice or not there are three main elements that we review thoroughly and just to caveat we assume that you already have a preferred destination. 

The biggest thing to look at from our perspective is the quality of the food. If the food is good, everything else normally follows suit. This is one area that can plague an all-inclusive resort’s reputation for a long time if guests have poor food experiences. So, do your research here as you will most likely be eating most of your meals in the resort. 

The next thing to look at is the look and feel of the resort. Was the resort built in the last 10 years, does it have a luxury aesthetic to it. If the resort looks like it is below in a boutique hotel then you usually know that the owners have invested in providing a top-quality experience. 

The final element we look at is the quality of the beach and the volume of pools. When researching the beach.  The questions we would be asking are, How swimmable is the water, does the beach get much seagrass,  is it a private beach? For pools, you should be asking how many pools are there? Is it easy to get a sun lounger by the pool? Are there separate kids pool if it’s a family-friendly resort?

If you are traveling with kids the other important element to look at – is it a child-friendly resort? What is the kids club like?

You may be asking yourself, how do I find out all of this information? Prior to traveling, we put a lot of research into the resort. Typically we would spend time looking through the star ratings on platforms like TripAdvisor and Google reviews.

From there we would look for a standalone article where a website reviews in detail their experience of the resort. Once we are comfortable with the standard of the hotel from a research standpoint it gives us the confidence to book. The good news is that we have visited a lot of these resorts in Cancun already, so check out our reviews here.  

Are all-inclusive resorts worth the money?

Overall, our experiences staying in dozens of all-inclusive resorts has led us to believe that they do offer a bang for your buck. The thing you need to do to make sure that you are getting value is to put in the research to understand the quality of the resort.

The complete experiences you get for an all-in cost really do offer great value when you compare individually booking and paying for elements.  If you get a package that includes flights and airport transfers. 

The only additional costs are really the tipping and the cost involved with the times you leave the resort. One of the best things about all-inclusive resorts is that there is so much to do and do at the resorts, that there isn’t really a need to leave unless you want to take in some of the local cultures. If you can find a top-quality resort at a price that suits your budget they can be very good value experiences. 

Are activities and entertainment included?

There is always some form of entertainment included in an all-inclusive package. The entertainment will range from someone with a guitar at the bar playing some tunes, to a full-blown musical event on a decent-sized stage. T

The entertainment kind of depends on the size of the resort. The bigger resorts typically have more offerings when it comes to entertainment with tribute acts, themed nights, dance shows, and silent discos. For the smaller more boutique resorts it’s typically a little more refined, which we at InspoVacay actually prefer, but this is a personal choice. 

The activities on offer also range from sporting endeavors with the likes of tennis courts, yoga classes, gym classes, nonmotorized water sports just to name a few. Some resorts also make a great effort in putting on things like tequila tastings, sushi-making classes, and educational things throughout the day. 

There are loads of resorts that are categorized as “Golf Resorts”. They typically offer free rounds of golf for guests.  Be aware that a lot of times this is only inclusive of the green fee. What some resorts and courses do is to make golf carts mandatory and to charge a high price for the cart rental and anything else you need to rent. So, make sure you read the fine print of the offer. As those costs can add up quickly. 

Final Thoughts 

All-inclusive vacations can be the perfect vacation if you pick a top-quality resort that fits your price point. , but you really need to put the research in to understand the quality of the resort. Alternatively, if you have a referral of a trusted person this is also a great route for picking a place. Make sure to know what’s included before booking. 

Making sure that the resort you are planning on visiting is of decent quality is a vital stage. There are many all-inclusive that don’t deliver a good quality offering. From our experience reviewing all-inclusive resorts. It tends to be the bigger resorts where the service is very impersonal and the food quality is poor that leaves you questioning why you vacationed there. Do your research and you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to check out our reviews of our current top-ranked resorts in Cancun and the surrounding area.  

  1. Finest Playa Mujeres – 4.6 Stars out of 5 
  2. Atelier Playa Mujeres – 4.4 Stars out of 5 
  3. Beloved Playa Mujeres – 4.1 Stars out of 5 
  4. Excellence Riviera Cancun – 4.1 Stars out of 5