At the time, my last vacation was a trip to Jamaica for my brother’s wedding in 2003. For the next seven years, I put a lot of focus on my education and gaining work experience. After completing the first half of my undergrad and two internships, I decided it was time for my next vacation. In 2010, I had a week off before the start of my next semester and so I decided on staying at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. Since that trip, I returned four more times to other resorts including some in Riviera Maya.
For this vacation, I was looking for specific qualities. If this is what your looking for, for your next vacation, going to a resort is the right thing for you.
Free food and drinks
Look for a resort that is all-inclusive. This means buffet styled breakfasts, lunches, dinners, daytime and midnight snacks are available. It also means that bartenders won’t be too far away to serve you up your favourite drink.
You’ll be spending most of your time at the resort where entertainment will find you during the day and night with activities and shows.
If you want to experience an activity outside the resort, there will be plenty of paid excursions you can choose from that will handle logistics for you. You just need to show up at the pickup time in the lobby.
There are also many activities on the beach that you can do as well, which are usually reasonably priced such as kayaking, parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat rides etc.
Minimal thinking during the trip
With minimal planning comes minimal thinking. You don’t have to worry about pre-planning the trip and you don’t have to worry about executing it while you’re there.
Your body and mind can vegetate as much or as little as it wants, allowing you to relax and go with the flow.
Among very expensive packages, you can find some really good deals. My trips have cost between $800 CAD to $1300 CAD per person, which included flights, 4 to 5 star accommodation, food, drinks, entertainment for 7 to 10 days, as well as transportation to and from the airport, which can be pricey on its own.
This isn’t the best choice for you if you’re not a fan of the following:
Little authentic cultural experience
Staying at the resort isolates you from real life. You get this false sense of paradise, allowing you to ignore how hard resort employees work. While you’re fed, hydrated and staying cool in the pool, there are people who work long hours in the sun, keeping the resort clean and pretty.
It doesn’t provide the opportunity to live as locals live, to live amongst locals, to go out in search of authentic food. The closest you could get to that is if you spend time chatting with employees, going on excursions that take you to traditional homes, schools and plantations setup for tourism, or venturing off the resort on your own. From experience, it’s very hard to do so in Punta Cana because the resorts I’ve been too have been pretty far from civilization, but in Riviera Maya, finding public transport was easier, which enabled us to make our own way to Playa Del Carmen and Isla De Mujeres. The above alternatives still make it a nice trip, but this may not satisfy the backpacker traveler type.
This sort of trip is one that gives you time to relax in a different setting and climate than you’re used to. As I mentioned you can add some adventure by doing some of the activities and excursions available to you, but it’s designed to make you feel cushioned, and not to truly take you out of your comfort zone. Most people spend most of their days lounging around on beach chairs, relaxing in the pool or on the beach.
Every vendor will want to sell you something
The reason why I mentioned “89% relaxation” earlier is because you wouldn’t experience that 100% even if you wanted to. At some resorts, there will be people trying to sell you something all the time: tours, activities, souvenirs, timeshare (gross), etc. At one of the resorts I went to, I couldn’t walk 5 minutes without someone trying to sell me something, and they didn’t take no for an answer.
Thankfully, the other resorts weren’t so intense. And when we wanted to buy something, the vendors were more than willing to help.
Every day will be the same for the most part: put on your bathing suit and clothes, go to breakfast, go to the pool or the beach, return to the dining hall for lunch and/or dinner, attend nightly entertainment at the theatre hall, go to bed, repeat. While it’s a nice break from your regular routine at work, school or home, the holiday routine gets old after a week.
Next on the blog, you’ll learn what to expect and how to navigate the resort life. Stay connected and stay tuned.