Going The “All Inclusive” Way, Yes Or No?

Last Updated Oct 18, 2023

All inclusive in Riviera Maya: do we like it or not? Odigoo Travel opinion.

The Cancun and Riviera Maya destination often rhymes with white sand, turquoise waters... and all-inclusive trips! The all-inclusive package seems like a magic formula for the perfect budget vacation.

Including flights, accommodation, transportation, and sometimes even activities, this type of low-cost trip quickly seduced tour operators and tourists from all over the world.

The Cancun region is no exception and the all-inclusive, the true king of the coast, is consolidated as the reference tourist formula throughout the Riviera Maya.

But what is really hidden behind these low-cost trips that flourish among all service providers (holiday sellers)?

To know everything about these "package" offers that flood the Cancun and Riviera Maya destinations, we offer you this detailed article so that you understand the various advantages and disadvantages of these famous "All-inclusive" proposals. 😉

Since the creation of this coastal city that emerged from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea in the 1970s, the city of Cancun has established itself as a world-class tourist destination.

Its attractiveness, indisputable due to the combination of exceptional natural beauty, makes it an almost unavoidable destination for all tourists, national and international, who are looking for a change of scenery.

The increased influx of visitors to Cancun and, by extension, to the entire Riviera Maya, has had the effect of creating new coastal destinations such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Puerto Morelos.

The other consequence of this tourism boom is the real estate boom throughout the Riviera Maya. Cancun's success quickly resulted in the creation of hundreds of hotel complexes and many other tourism-related services.

The growth of the destination is such that Cancun and the Riviera Maya continue to strive in maintaining a constant level of tourist attractiveness, thanks to the renovation and improvement of its recreational infrastructure and its spectacular hotel zone.

A bit of history: to better understand the success of all-inclusive vacation offers

The "all-inclusive" package: a revolution in Europe's tourist offer

One of the star products in Cancun and Riviera Maya is undoubtedly the “all-inclusive vacation”.

This term that sounds like a magic formula for "All inclusive" isn’t new, it has its origins on the Mediterranean coast where it was developed thanks to the famous Club Med in the 60s.

This attractive all-inclusive vacation package quickly conquered the largest destinations in Europe and continues to increase its popularity among tourists.

Hotel Zone in Cancun

This "all-inclusive" revolution was later exported to other regions of the world and, in particular, to the Mexican Caribbean. But before this new range of vacation offerings hit the Riviera Maya market, tourism looked quite different in the Cancun area.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya: before and after the “All Inclusive”

During the first two decades that tourism developed in Cancun, it was essentially national, and the destination was considered very elitist. The Riviera Maya, far from being the El Dorado that we know today for tourists from all over the world, attracted a wealthy population corresponding to Mexico’s upper social class.

With the arrival of North American tourists in the 1990s, Cancun and the Riviera Maya took a new economic turn and the destination changed its dynamics. Little by little, Cancun's tourist offer focused on capturing these new flows of visitors with high purchasing power, making the destination increasingly inaccessible to the middle classes.

All Inclusive in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Then, in the 2000s, a true revolution in terms of tourism products spread along the coasts of Mexico and particularly in the Mexican Caribbean. This was due to the appearance of the first all-inclusive vacations that opened the destination to new tourist markets, such as families with more modest budgets.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya finally became accessible places for international tour groups, but also for travelers from all over Mexico, which had the effect of considerably developing the national market.

Thus, "all-inclusive" vacations have contributed to making Cancun and the Riviera Maya one of the most attractive destinations in the world, thanks to sensational low-cost trips.

The All Inclusive vacation: what does it really include?

Let's decipher an attractive offer within reach of all pockets.

How do sellers of all-inclusive vacations manage to offer such affordable prices for faraway and attractive destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

Without going into the details of the principles of economy of scale, it is easy to understand that the higher the purchase volume, the lower the individual (unit) price of a stay, for each traveler.

This is how travel agencies and tour operators proceed to offer vacations at reduced prices.

Thanks to the elimination of intermediary service providers (airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, etc.) and the consolidation of all their services in a global offer, tour operators are buying a large number of airline tickets, hotel rooms, bus rentals, etc.

By reducing the costs of each participant, they develop all-inclusive products and affordable vacations that bring fame to the main coastal destinations around the world.

As you may have noticed, the main advantage of an "all-inclusive" vacation is obviously its attractive price.

In the most basic cases, these "all-inclusive" offers include airfare and accommodation in a mid-range or superior hotel (3 stars or more), with food included, half board or full board.

Buffet in Cancún

In addition, these services are complemented with transfers from the airport to the lodging site. In some cases, the travel agency or tour operator may also offer private car rental services from a partner provider at preferential rates.

Good to know: Although the all-inclusive vacations offered by travel agencies and tour operators are mostly standardized formulas, you can always complete or improve your package, according to your wishes.

Odigoo Tip:

Feel free to ask! Whether it is a change of hotel category, going from half board to full board, adding activities, excursions or additional services, with a price supplement, transform your all-inclusive vacation into an offer tailored to your needs.

All-inclusive vacations in the Riviera Maya: 5 tips to consider before booking!

Before starting the purchase of your “all-inclusive” vacations, several factors must be taken into account in order to properly prepare your stay. Here are our 5 Odigoo tips for better rates:

  • 1. Set your travel dates in advance!

Having precise travel dates will allow you to clearly and precisely identify the best period for your All-Inclusive stay in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

In fact, the tourist season directly impacts the number of all-inclusive vacations. Focus on "low season" periods during which tour operators don't hesitate to offer discounted travel deals.

  • 2. Define precisely the criteria of your hotel!

Once you have decided on your travel dates, take the time to research your preferences for where to stay in Cancun.

First, the location. Indeed, Cancun and Riviera Maya have a very diversified and, above all, very extensive hotel strip. Therefore, it is essential to clearly define the place of your vacation; that is to say Cancun downtown, the hotel zone of Cancun or even an establishment in one of the tourist centers on the coast such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum or Puerto Morelos.

A second important thing to consider when choosing your "all-inclusive" vacation offer is the category of your accommodation.

Given the impressive variety of resorts and establishments of all kinds in Cancun and Riviera Maya, it is important to find out about the type of hotel you are looking for.

For the comfort of their international travelers, travel agencies and tour operators offering all-inclusive stays select hotels with uniform standards.

All-inclusive establishments are generally high-end with a minimum of 3 stars. They can also be high-end accommodations up to 5 stars and other large resort-type hotel complexes.

Odigoo Tip:

to choose your accommodation, ask yourself what are the important criteria during your stay (desired infrastructures, proximity to the beach, easy access for recreational activities...).

  • 3. Choose your type of accommodation and your type of pension, according to your needs!

Are you coming to the Riviera Maya with your family? In a couple? Or with friends? Depending on the composition of your group and the pace you want to give to your vacation, your all-inclusive stay can vary significantly.

Are you going on vacation to Cancun with your children and do not want to be separated from them? Keep in mind that triple or quadruple rooms are generally cheaper in all-inclusive deals. If, on the other hand, you are traveling with teenagers and want to give them a little more independence, why not opt ​​for an aparthotel with two connecting rooms?

The same questions arise regarding meals. The "all-inclusive" stays generally offer half-board or full-board formulas, that is, choose between having lunch outdoors to discover the local cuisine and the many street stalls, or enjoying all your meals in your hotel.

Please note that drinks are included in these packages, but in a very limited range. If you are a lover of fine spirits, you will probably have to pay more!

  • 4. Make sure of the number of people traveling with you!

To better negotiate your all-inclusive vacations offer and to obtain an attractive reduction from your travel agency or tour operator, it is better to know in advance your group composition.

Once your all-inclusive offer ends, changes to your order will, in most cases, be subject to surcharges. If, for instance, you want to add or remove a guest it will be subject to additional charges.

  • 5. Make sure you choose cancellation insurance!

Yes, it may seem a bit of an exaggeration when we talk about an all-inclusive vacation offer, but keep in mind that in many travel agencies and tour operators, the option of cancellation insurance is an additional service.

It corresponds to a percentage of the purchase price of your stay, generally around 3 to 5%.

Odigoo Tip:

Given the current economic situation and the constant uncertainties in the world of tourism, including the global Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot help but recommend that you take out this type of cancellation insurance and thus avoid any problem in case that any of the parties cannot comply with the contracted offer.

“All Inclusive” vacations: 3 Pros and 3 Cons

Like any tempting and affordable offer, the “All Inclusive” vacation has its advantages but also its drawbacks.

For the sake of transparency, we give here 3 pros and 3 cons of the “All Inclusive” experience

The advantages of “All Inclusive”:

  • 😃 Guarantee and security

“All Inclusive” vacations offer this undeniable advantage to guarantee all the details of your trip in advance. Your vacations are in the hands of professionals who will review all service points for you and leave nothing to chance. Go with a free mind!

  • 😃 Comfort and ease

Once there, you no longer have to worry about anything! Absolutely nothing! From your arrival at the airport to the transfer to your hotel, going through the menus of your meals and the smallest detail of your activities, everything will be ready for you to enjoy with total peace of mind.

  • 😃 Controlled budget

No negative surprises for your wallet. All-inclusive vacations allow you to better manage your expenses. Avoid any additional costs and keep control of your finances.

The disadvantages of “All-inclusive” vacations.

  • 😒 Risk of boredom

The other side of the coin when you have nothing to think about is losing part of the attraction of the trip, the surprise and amazement. Unforeseen events are not part of all-inclusive vacations, which focus more on comfort and routine.

  • 😒 Repetitive program

The same activities, the same menus and above all the same place of accommodation throughout your vacations. If you like change and tend to get bored quickly, it seems that the all-inclusive formula will not be to your liking!

  • 😒 Additional expenses

If you want to get out of the routine and go beyond the options of your “All Inclusive” vacation offer, you will have to go beyond your initial budget. Whether it is a dinner outside your accommodation, an excursion not included in your package, any additional activity outside your "all-inclusive" offer will be entirely at your expense.

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