How far is it from Cancun?
Because of our proximity to Mexico, we have great direct flight options that are just 2 hours. We fly into Cancun (airport code: CUN), and typically get a transportation service to take us to our hotel. The farthest we have gone is Playa del Carmen, and that drive is normally 45 minutes. We’ve always just booked straight through Expedia since most of the hotels we’ve stayed at don’t offer airport shuttle service. Riviera Maya was a smidge closer, about 30/35 minutes. But even if you stay in the hotel zone in Cancun, it’ll still take you about 10-15 minutes to get to your hotel. My recommendation is to stay a little further away and add a little bit of time to that drive. It’s totally worth it.
How do I book transportation?
As I mentioned above, we’ve just booked it through Expedia and have never had issues. We’ve had everything from a fancy large black SUV come get us with drinks to a giant 16 person shuttle bus take our group of 12 to the resort! There is something for everyone. If you do stay in the hotel zone right in Cancun, there also buses that go down the strip dropping people off, but those looked miserable as people crowded onto them, so unless you’re looking for a budget option, I would avoid those.
What about airport shuttle service from the hotel?
I’m sure there might be a couple of hotels that offer this service, but I’ve yet to find one. Out of the 6 years we have been, we have never had a hotel that is able to do this for us. We always have to book is separately.
Do I need to bring a carseat?
This is personal preference, but we don’t travel with carseats. We tend to just have drive from the airport to the hotel (and back), so we strap them in and call it a day. No point in lugging something that we won’t use for the entirety of the trip.
We’ve stayed at 2 resorts in the hotel zone in Cancun, one hotel in Riviera Maya, and the same hotel now for the past three years in Playa del Carmen. Here’s a deeper look at the resort we stayed at! They all offer something different and depending on what we needed for that moment of time in our life, we chose that hotel.
How do I pick what’s right for me?
I spend a lot of time scouring Expedia and other travel sites and get a quick glimpse of what’s out there. I then take a top few options and head to the hotel websites, tripadvisor, etc to understand if it’s a good fit. We always travel with our kids, so choosing a place that’s family friendly is very important to me.
Is it actually all inclusive?
Many resorts are not, but make sure you choose one that says all inclusive. What this typically includes is food and alcohol at the resort. However that is not a blanket statement. There might be a restaurant or two that might be extra. But the majority, like 90%, tends to be included. Most hotels include room service too, so order off that menu from the comfort of your bed and don’t worry about paying extra. Same principle applies to alcohol…there might be special liquors or fancy bottles of wine that could potentially cost extra, but most of it is included! The spa is always extra, and it tends to be pretty pricey. So unless you wanna splurge on that massage, I would save your money unless it’s a special treat.
Some resorts offer kayaks and water activities that are inclusive, and at some they are extra. They will try and up-sell you on things like photography and such, but that’s totally a personal preference on whether or not you want those memories. There might be fun things like cooking classes too, but those might cost you extra depending on the resort.
Entertainment is always included. We’ve never had to pay extra for a show or an event.
How is the food?
I get this question quite a bit. Because it’s all inclusive, is the food bad? I personally don’t think so, but it’s dependent on the resort. For our honeymoon, we had stayed at the Sandals in St. Lucia and it was some of the best food we’ve had. Do these resorts compare? Not so much. But our wants and needs are a little different from what it was for our honeymoon 8 years ago. We don’t need to sit down and eat fancy food while our kids are just annoying us to jump back in the pool. We tend to book the restaurants on the resort for our dinners, and that food is superior to the buffet, so our dinners were better than our lunches for sure.
**A little tip for the restaurants. Scour the website and see what each restaurant offers, and ideally make those reservations before arriving to your destination. They book up, and we’ve made the mistake of trying and reserving them the day we arrive and we have been burned. Book them in advance, otherwise, you may be only eating at the buffets.
The buffets don’t offer the same food everyday. The resorts tend to choose a “theme” for the evening and it could range to the local Mexican food, an Asian theme, Italian theme, etc. Trust me, you won’t go hungry if that’s what you’re worried about. The dessert section never disappoints, which the kids are always excited about basically.
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes. Every resort we have stayed at has filtered water. With that said, we still ask for bottled water which they have (and it’s included) because I have zero desire to get sick on vacation. So to avoid any stomach bugs and such, we tend to stick with that when it comes to consuming water.
Is it kid-friendly?
Not all resorts are, but the ones we’ve chosen are, and that is our doing. I do a lot of research on making sure we only choose resorts that can also cater to my littles, whether it comes to food, fun, or accommodations! There are resorts that have playgrounds, waterparks, etc! There are kid shows and activities that the resorts will put on. They will also cater to allergies when it comes to food, so don’t worry about that either! Every resort we have stayed at also has highchairs, so you don’t have to bring anything for your child to sit in at the restaurants.
Even at the bars near the pools, the bartenders will happily make virgin drinks and milkshakes for those little eager hands wanting something “fun” to drink like mommy!
Is there childcare available?
Most of the resorts that cater to families do offer childcare, like a kids club. We have never used them because I know for a fact that my kids wouldn’t be comfortable being left alone with complete strangers. But if your kids are ok, there are plenty of people who leave their children at the kids clubs.
You have young kids…I have older kids…will they be bored?
Soooooo I would have to say a big fat no. The pool is the there, and there is a beach nearby. I didn’t see any children getting bored! Especially at this last resort we’ve visited these last three years. They just added a waterpark, and all range of ages of kids were having a blast! Hell, all of adults loved the waterpark! Those slides were a blast, and I can’t imagine any age at a fun resort in a tropical location getting bored.
Is there stuff to do in the resort?
We normally just hang around at the pool and use this as a true vacation. No plans or excursions. We figure when the kids are bit older, we will venture out of the resort and do day trips and stuff. But at the resort, it’s mostly for relaxing. Sometimes there will be games and other entertainment that they will put on, but mostly, people are just hanging out.
What kind of entertainment for adults?
There tends to be some sort of show at night. They aren’t always catered to just adults…dependent on the resort, it’s usually family centric. Which we are obviously ok with, but if it was just Rudy and I, I’m not so sure we would go to them.
Is the swim up suite worth it?
Yes, yes, and yes. We love having it as a way to swim near our room and be able to get out of the pool and shower right away. Or if a night time swim while the kids are asleep. It’s the perfect way to add a little relaxation to your vacation! Not every resort offers this of course, but I now love it so much, I try to see if we can always get a swim up option because it’s honestly the best!
Best time to go?
We’ve always gone around Memorial Day or Fourth of July, so I can’t really speak for other times of the year but I know for a fact that I would avoid hurricane season just so you don’t have to cancel last minute just in case a tropical storm heads that way. There might be less crowds during that time, but I just never want to risk it so I just normally plan to go in the months of May or June.
Hope this was helpful! Please let me know in the comments or via email if you have more questions! I’d be more than happy to answer and help plan your vacation!