It’s been almost 3 months since my (first) all-inclusive trip to Cancun but it is still on my mind. I had such a good time and it was a bargain! Read my blog about the trip overall.
Here’s some more tips about picking an all-inclusive resort and taking advantage of what you get…. once you get there. But first, research, research, research, and print out your stuff before leaving. Be sure to know what you get in your exact package!
In April of this year (2015), I went on my first all-inclusive vacation to Cancun, Mexico. I bought a package through CheapCaribbean.com with a flight from Boston and 6 nights at the Grand Oasis Cancun. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, but I read enough to know that I should do research, bring biodegradable sunblock (it’s less than $10 in the US, but over $25 if you have to buy from a resort), wear my wristband like it was my passport, don’t carry my passport, and don’t have high expectations for the food. I think these tips helped me, so I’d like to share what I learned.
Research about your resort as much as possible especially BEFORE you book. Like I said in previous posts, read as much about your resort as possible- especially from the place you book it. Copy and paste the details into a Google doc. It could change by the time you actually go on a trip. Search the resort on other booking places BEFORE you book it, see if you learn any more, but also be aware that not all packages are the same, even if they are the same resort. Compare what you get at the same resort at different websites- maybe details were left out…. or maybe the packages are DIFFERENT.
We made photo copies of our passports and wrote down the phone numbers of the credit cards and saved securely into an internet accessible application. We carried paper copies of our passports when we left the resort, but our passports stayed in the hotel room safe. If we lost our credit cards, we wouldn’t know the number to call to report it lost, so that’s why it’s a good idea to get the phone number. I think you can call collect or find the local number for where you are traveling.
Print your itinerary, package details, transportation transfer voucher, hotel voucher, and restaurant details. We didn’t buy a data or voice package from Verizon for our iPhones, so I couldn’t pull anything up while there. I did take some screen shots of emails before we arrived so I could see that. We almost had a major issue checking in at the hotel because we were missing ONE page from our packet of papers and it was the ONLY one we really needed- the hotel voucher. These days, I am so used to getting EventBrite ticket confirmations and just showing my phone or even just telling them my name, and they pull it up. But NOT here. They needed the actual print out. We freaked for about 5 minutes paging through the 15 page stack of papers, realizing we were missing the hotel voucher. We finally convinced the guy at the reservation desk to let us log into Gmail and print the voucher. Whew! Crisis diverted. Lesson learned- print everything and staple together.
FLIGHT TIMES & HOTEL TRANSFER
A lot of times, you don’t have a lot of control over flight times, unless you want to spend lots of money. Our choice seemed to be between leaving Boston at 6:30am (which meant leaving the house at 4am and paying $80 for a taxi) and getting to Cancun around 2pm and paying around $100 each extra for the flight…… or leaving Boston around 1pm (taking the T for around $5 and arrive in Cancun around 9pm). We picked the last option. We arranged roundtrip airport to/from hotel transportation with the package company. I figured we’d end up paying the same if we booked there, but since we were arriving late, let’s go ahead and book it and not worry about it. Plus, it was pre-paid and it would be one less thing to bring money for or use my credit card (and come back to surprised charges). It was worth it. It was a little overwhelming when we arrived and it was comforting to know that there was a company waiting for us and had our flight details in case we were delayed. We did tip the driver. This was the one tip that wasn’t included in our package.
CHECK-IN and CHECK-OUT
Be careful to check the times for these. I also read reviews about the LONG wait times for check-in. That was one thing we didn’t have to deal with because we didn’t get to the hotel until 10pm. We did miss out on having dinner that night though. WATCH OUT FOR THE TIMESHARE PEOPLE From the reviews, these timeshare people are at several resorts. Just be aware at the resort that there could be a timeshare business center operating out of the resort and try to get people to their VIP lounge and get hooked into hearing a presentation to get their special gift.
Most of the resorts had wristbands. This determines which restaurants and bars you can go to. Whatever you do, do NOT lose this. It could cost hundreds to get a new one. They talk about a daily $50-90 charge for it.
PRIVATE VIP LOUNGE
See if your package includes lounge or VIP check-in. Ours did, but we arrived late in the evening and it was closed. But the good thing is that the regular check-in line was nonexistent, so we didn’t really miss it. We did use it to check out and it was an express line and they served water and fruit, and also let us keep our bags there until our shuttle back to airport.
Check for what is included in the room itself. Is a balcony important? How far of a walk to the beach is the room/building? If it’s important to you, does it have a TV with cable?Air conditioner? Tub or just shower? Hair dryer?
Our package also include a mini-bar with water, beer and soda for FREE. Restocked daily. Now, it was small and only held about 4 bottles/cans of each type, but it included!
Does it include towel service? Does it include any shows or entertainment? Kids activities or workout sessions? Does it include a gym?
Is your resort part of a chain/group of hotels from the same company where you can use those resorts? It’s a good option if you want to check out other places. Just check to see if you need to make a reservation, whether you need to plan your own transportation there, and what is included once there (food, drinks, alcohol, shows).
Lots to think about, but its good to find the answers to these questions before you book or before you board the plane!