Ill admit it. I'm a bit of a vacation snob. The idea of an all-inclusive resort conjures up images of annoying college kids, retirees, and mediocre food. The only all-inclusive vacation I've ever had was the Alaskan cruise that my family and I took a few years ago. Since it was on a boat and had daily excursions, I can't say that it's really representative of the typical all-inclusive stay.
My ideal vacation is some charming Airbnb that no one has really discovered yet in an up-and-coming destination because clearly I've completed my Brooklyn hipster transformation. I can't say that my recent stay at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico changed my mind about the patrons or food, but it did open my eyes to the benefits of the all-inclusive lifestyle. Mainly, convenience and alcohol.
The resort we stayed in had a ton of other things going for it though. The grounds were gorgeous and the room was spacious and impeccably clean. Every room had an awesome balcony (ours happened to face west for some spectacular sunsets). Plus, there were tons of wildlife roaming the grounds like cats (OK, not so wild), pelicans, and coatis. Besides the beach and pool, my favorite spot was the rooftop restaurant, Skylight. The sunset dinner we had there was amazing (both food and views).
The resort was located directly on the beach, so we could basically roll out of our room and across the mangrove bridge right to the sand. We never had a problem finding an open cabana or umbrella to plop ourselves down under. Wherever we were on the beach, servers always managed to find us and bring us back anything we wanted (usually mango daiquiris!) Even though we never tried any, there were tons of water activities we could have done like wind sailing, jet skiing, and paddle boarding.
When we wanted a change of scenery, we headed over to the pool (which had several sections all around the property. Of course, we mainly planted ourselves in front of the swim-up bar. Cabanas here were pretty easy to come by too.
The staff was super friendly and really attentive, though we had some issues trying to get more shampoo bottles. (Who only uses one little bottle for a week?!) Also, because it was humid AF there, everything was sort of damp and smelled musty, but that's not really their fault. The seven restaurants were fine. Totally serviceable food that was available basically 24-7, but what you'd expect from all-inclusive fare (lukewarm dishes, everything sort of tasted the same). The standout was the restaurant that you had to pay for (the aforementioned Skylight). For just $100, we dined on oysters, steak, fresh shrimp, paella, and a giant bottle of champagne. I sort of wish we'd eaten there more than once.
Bottom line, I'd totally do all-inclusive again, but next time, I'd leave the resort for dinner in town.