While staying in a cozy beach cottage and eating street tacos may have worked pre-kids, when traveling with young children many families need a little more in terms of structure, reliability and creature comforts.
So it’s no surprise that a growing number of the young families are booking all inclusive resorts for their family vacation.
However, one of the most common concerns families have when considering an all inclusive resort for the first time, is the reputation for all inclusive resorts to offer disgusting buffet meals, watered down drinks and sub-par service.
Yes, a decade ago, all inclusive resorts were typically very cheap and catered to budget travelers. But that has changed completely in recent years. With amenities like swim-up suites, terrace soaking tubs, fire pits, butler service, experiential and cultural activities, mobile resort apps, a variety of high-end, a la carte restaurants and wonderful wine selections, and pool and beach waiter service, today all inclusive resorts are nothing like they used to be.
If, like many families today, you are considering booking your next trip at an all-inclusive resort, don’t miss my tips for booking an all inclusive vacation!
Does the resort offer “family” rooms?
There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than cramming a family of 4 into a small hotel room. Today many resorts, in an effort to really perfect the vacation experience for families, have introduced family rooms. These rooms range from 1-bedroom suites with a King bed for parents in one room and kids sleeping in the main living area, to standard-level junior suites with a light wall that pulls across the room to offer some separation.
While sometimes the family rooms are a slight upgrade over standard room types, they are well worth it in my opinion!
For families traveling with teen and pre-teen children, I’ve also booked adjoining rooms (one for kids and one for parents.) There are a few great resorts in Mexico, like the the Grand Palladium Riviera Resort and Spa and AZUL properties, where the pricing for 2 basic rooms that are adjoining works out the same as an upgraded 2-bedroom suite. A great option for families with older kids so everyone can spread out!
Do you need to make dinner reservations?
Some resorts require reservations at their restaurants (at least the most in-demand ones) and some have a “no reservations” policy. There are pros and cons of both methods.
While it’s nice to be able to make a reservation, often these are only made the same day or a few days in advance and require travelers to line up in the afternoon to get the reservation. What a sad way to spend your vacation time, I know you’d rather be at the beach!
If you are looking at a resort that requires reservations, consider adding the “butler” service offered by many resorts. At Paradisus this is called “Family Concierge” for example. This upgrade allows the butler to make reservations for you so you don’t have to stand in line!
Book early to avoid disappointment.
All inclusive resorts often offer fabulous sales starting from about 11 months out, which is as soon as flights are available to book. Not only can you save money, but if you are interested in booking a “non-standard” room, you’ll want to book early. These rooms (think 2-bedroom suites with a private pool) have very limited inventory and are often snatched up by savvy travel agents for their clients well in advance.
Has your travel agent been there?
Trip Advisor reviews are totally subjective and should not be your sole reference when deciding which all inclusive resort to book.
Because I sell so much of the Riviera Maya, I travel to the destination several times a year to inspect resorts, meet with the general managers, get to know the guides and experience it all for myself. Working with a professional who has been there and can make educated recommendations on what is going to be best for your family is priceless!
Just looking for some ideas? Sign up below for instant access to my custom-designed itineraries across Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Get the inside scoop on where to go, what to do, and where to stay!