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Between social distancing, Zoom fatigue, lockdowns, and a whole bunch of take-out meals, it’s been a very long year (and then some) of enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. And of course, there are the devastating effects of the coronavirus on families worldwide — not only loved ones lost, but the emotional, physical, and financial toll that’s been life-changing for so many. It’s been hard. So very, very hard.
Thankfully, with the increasing number of people getting vaccinated, borders reopening, and restaurants back to in-person dining (hooray!), our world is regaining some sense of normalcy these days — and that includes travel.
In the last year, my husband and I have road-tripped to cabins and vacation rentals for a few nearby weekend getaways, and we’ve embarked on some longer, multi-state road trips in our motorhome. But we’ve held out on air travel until becoming fully vaccinated.
As soon as we reach full efficacy this spring (two weeks to the day after receiving our second Moderna shot), we’re hopping on a plane to Mexico to spend a week at an oceanfront all-inclusive resort south of Playa del Carmen along the Riviera Maya.
I’ve found frequent travelers have strong opinions about all-inclusive resorts. Similar to cruises, most people either love ’em or hate ’em. I’m firmly in the love ’em category — with the caveat that they serve a purpose for certain types of vacations, namely when rest and relaxation amid toasty tropical temperatures is at the top of the agenda (or lack of agenda) — and I’ve been to at least 15 in Mexico and the Caribbean in the past 20 years.
Read on to learn the reasons why I’m choosing an all-inclusive resort in Mexico for my first post-vaccination trip.
1. We Won’t Have To Think (Too Much) At An All-Inclusive Resort
Should we relax on the beachfront Bali bed or kick back on some poolside loungers? Book a reservation at the Asian restaurant or order room service for dinner? These will be the most difficult decisions my husband and I will make on our upcoming vacation — and that’s absolutely what I need after a mentally taxing and emotionally draining year at home.
All meals and drinks (including alcohol) are included in the room rate at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, so there’s little time spent researching what restaurant to eat at each day — they’re all on site. That said, we’ve certainly grabbed a taxi to enjoy the food and ambiance at local restaurants during previous all-inclusive stays.
But since we’ve already paid up front for our food on this trip, where we definitely don’t want to have to do any planning or itinerary-making, we’ll be happy to simply enjoy the gourmet cuisine offered to us at restaurants conveniently located just steps from our suite.
2. We Can Be As Active, Or As Chill, As We Want
Plenty of activities are included in an all-inclusive package price, such as watersports, dance lessons, yoga classes, and beach volleyball games. So guests looking to be entertained all day long have plenty to do without having to leave the resort.
Similarly, rest and relaxation top the list of many fans of all-inclusive resorts — so lounging at the pool, napping in a hammock, and reading a good book on a shady balcony on repeat for a week is a totally acceptable way to spend an all-inclusive vacation. (I am firmly raising my hand to this.)
And for folks who do want to explore the area or have fun with some outdoor adventures, all-inclusive resorts make it easy to book with excursion sale reps on site. They may not be the cheapest trips, but if convenience is key — with transportation to and from snorkeling sites, ancient ruins, or downtown food tours right from the hotel — vacationers can wait to book excursions until they get to the resort.
3. We Can Avoid People
It’s been more than a year since we’ve mingled with groups of people — I wonder if I even remember how to strike up a conversation with strangers! Given that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, my husband and I won’t be hopping on any shared-ride vans for an off-site snorkeling excursion. We won’t get too close to folks bellied up to the swim-up bar, nor will we stroll the crowded streets in Playa del Carmen. Normally, these are fun ways to meet like-minded travelers and friendly locals.
Instead, since we’re on a slow reentry to society, we’ll secure lounge chairs a fair distance from others, won’t partake in any dart tournaments, and we’ll likely pass on the fitness center. (Though I will say yes to outdoor yoga.) We’ll be on a romantic getaway, aiming to de-stress after a tumultuous year, and it’ll be easy to simply keep to ourselves. We’ll do us, and other people will do them, and I’m pretty sure we’ll all be happy to be on vacation!
And on the “avoiding people” front, we absolutely want to steer clear of kids on this trip that’s all about R and R. We have children, we love children — we’ve taken our kids to all-inclusive resorts and whooped and hollered with them in the pools and left behind messes at the upscale dress-code-required restaurants. But since we’re firmly in the empty-nesting category now, we’re delighted to be heading to one of the El Dorado adults-only properties.
4. We Want To Be Warm, STAT
Our plan for 2020-21 was to spend a large chunk of the cold winter months working remotely in a warm climate. The pandemic dashed our hopes of leaving our Colorado home for long stretches in a tropical land. So we’re incredibly eager for that heat-and-humidity fix now — and we can get it with a relatively short (4-hour) flight from Denver to Cancun.
Would we like to spend a couple months sightseeing in steamy Thailand, touring temples in Vietnam, or learning about local culture in Bali? Absolutely. Heck, I’ve got all sorts of plans to far-flung countries once we’re sure this pandemic is in the rearview mirror. (I’m seriously considering a European itinerary centered around visiting this underground winery in Croatia.)
But until I feel completely comfortable being elbow-to-elbow with strangers on the Paris Metro — or until Americans are even allowed to freely visit most international destinations — an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico where I can gaze at the ocean and dip my toes in the sand while reading books I’ve been too wired to get through over the past several months sounds perfectly dreamy.
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