6 Ways to Get the Most Out Of Your Resort Vacation

About ten years ago, my husband and I went on our very first all inclusive resort vacation. We were instantly hooked. It was so nice to have everything we needed all in one place so that we could truly relax while we were on vacation. We checked into the resort and never left because the resort had everything that we needed. We could eat and drink all that we wanted and we never had to worry about taking our credit cards out or exchanging money in a foreign country. It's the perfect vacation for us and I wanted to share six ways that you can get the most out of your resort vacation.

mexico, wanderlust, travel, Dominican republic, puerto vallarta, family travel, adults only

1. Know What You Are Looking For

You always need to start by having an idea of what you are looking for. Do you want an all inclusive with gourmet food options? Do you want an active nightlife or a quiet place to relax? Do you want lots of activities or the option of excursions nearby? Make a list of your priorities and rank them.
I like beach vacations with lots of sandy beach to walk on in a fairly quiet area.  If we are traveling without kids, we like to not have kids around at the resort at all. Don't get me wrong, we like kids, but when you are away from them, there is something special about needing that solitude away from any squabbling children. We usually go the adults only all inclusive route when it's just the two of us. 
Club Med Ixtapa, Mexico

If you are traveling with the kids it may be important to you to have a five star kids club with the ability to drop your kids off in the morning to have them cared for in the kids club until the end of the day. We discovered that no matter how enticing the kids programs were {trapeze classes, hello!} our kids were not interested in spending time in them, so that priority ranking isn't as high for us, though it may be the highest rank on your list and it may dictate where you spend your time. If I don't have kids, I don't spend too much time in the water, so big waves, and strong currents on the beach aren't deal breakers if we go as a couple, but they are deal breakers if we go as a family. 
Make a list and rank the items that are important to you. If this is your first resort vacation, once you get home, your list may change. You will have items that were higher on your priority list that will drop down, and items that probably weren't on your list at all that will make top priority. 

2. Read Trip Advisor Reviews

There is so much information you can find out by reading reviews on Trip Advisor. These real life accounts based on real experiences are priceless. You will have to remember to take people's review with a grain of salt. I stayed at a resort once where someone wrote a review that the beach was too loud when they were sitting at the pool. You can use these reviews to start narrowing down your resort options based on your priority list you made above. The information you find out about the resort during your research will help you when you get to number 3. 

3. Make Requests

After you read all the reviews you can handle, make a list of requests that you want during your stay. You will usually find a blank box or an e-mail address on the resort site during the time that you are making reservations. You can't make a request unless you have the list from your research. 

The Riu Room at the Riu Palace Pacifico in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

At one resort we stayed at, there were four large rooms that had an upstairs balcony with a hot tub. The room cost the exact same, but there were only four available. While the resort can't make any promises, they can take note when you make the request. We enjoyed a week in the Riu Room watching the sun rise and set from our corner balcony suite.

Another resort had complaints of hard mattresses, but they did have mattress toppers that you could request before check in. All you have to do is ask, but we wouldn't have known had we not done our research ahead of time.

If you are celebrating something, make sure you mention that as well. We are usually welcomed by chilled wine or a fruit platter or a special anniversary banner. On occasion we have also had a special dinner celebration in the restaurant when we mention that we are celebrating something special.

4. Ask For Upgrades

While you are asking, don't hesitate to ask for an upgrade. If you are staying at a slow time, there may be larger rooms available at no additional charge.  The resort is happy to fill those rooms and give you the best experience possible because they are hoping that you will write a glowing Trip Advisor review.

This may be where number 3 works against you though. If you have mentioned that it's your anniversary and you want a mattress topper and the resort has already prepared your room accordingly, they will hesitate to upgrade you because of your prior requests. 
I always say, you might as well ask. What's the worst thing that they will say? 

Excellence Playa Mujeres Cancun, Mexico

5. Tip {or not}

Most all inclusive resorts have tips included in their resort fees. We rarely tip unless we have the same server over and over again or the experience was above and beyond expectation. I have seen people tipping and they do get much more attention from the wait staff. If this is important to you, tip. It's not important to us, so we don't bother. I can get my own drinks at the bar and I'm on vacation so I'm not usually in any hurry for anything, though some people do like the personalized service, and trust me, as soon as you start flashing that green, the service does get turned up a notch. Though you are staying at a pretty swanky place to start out with. The service is usually top notch without the tips.

6. Bring Your Own Cups

This is always the tip that I give if I hear that someone is going to an all inclusive resort for the first time. We always bring our own insulated cups. I like a nice cold drink while I'm sitting on the beach and by the time the waiter brings me my drink or by the time I'm settled down in my lounge chair with a good book, my drink is warm and the ice is melted. First world problems I know, but it's easy to pack a large insulated cup like this one. I've never had a waiter or bartender not fill my drink in my own cup. In fact, I think it's a sign of an all inclusive resort pro.
You can find more tips for your all inclusive vacation here
In 2011, my husband and I realized that our family time was quickly flying by. We decided to create a family travel bucket list and we are thrilled to be able to cross off the final item on that list this summer. Our kids have had some fun adventures! Have you made a list of places you want to go as a family? I would love to hear what's on your list. Or are you a resort pro? I would love to hear how you make the most of your resort vacations. Comment below or tag me on social media.
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