Last week, our operations manager, Abby, headed down to Riviera Maya to experience a stay at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel. Having never been to an all-inclusive—or Mexico before—she had such an amazing experience enjoying all the resort had to offer! Today, she’s sharing a little bit about her experience and her tips for making the most of an all-inclusive resort. With family vacations and winter getaways coming up, we hope this comes in handy—especially for first-timers, like Abby!
1. Decide What Kind Of Vacation You Want.
Before you go on your all-inclusive vacation, decide what kind of experience you want to have. Do you want to do a lot of activities? Do you want to do nothing and just relax by the pool? Are you looking for a family experience? Are you traveling with a significant other or going solo?
Going into my trip, I knew I had a set itinerary, which included some free time. After meeting the other women who were on the trip with me, it was clear that it was a fun and friendly bunch and that we’d gladly spend some of our free time together experiencing what the resort had to offer. Whenever I go on trips with people I don’t know, I try to be part of the group, get to know people and participate in activities!
The great thing about the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is that it has two different sections—a family section and an adults only section, so it’s perfect no matter who you are traveling with!
2. Do Some Research.
There are usually so many places to eat and drink and things to do at an all-inclusive, so it’s always worth taking a little time beforehand to research what the all-inclusive offers and figure out what’s on your must-do list. Take a look at the restaurant menus and see which ones you are most interested in and find out where they are at the resort. See if they take reservations or not and what time is the best time to go. Reservations are required for many activities, so make sure to take care of that at the beginning of your stay or before. If things are first come, first serve, ask the concierge for suggestions on the best time to go.
Because of our itinerary, we already had some of the best places to eat and things to do mapped out for us, which was amazing! Going into the trip, we made sure that our spa sessions were booked!
3. Find Out What’s Unique To The Resort.
Many all-inclusives offer similar activities and things to do, so if you want to get an experience that’s a little bit different than some of resorts you may have visited in the past, find out what’s unique about the resort. Do they have amazing snorkeling, a signature spa treatment or special cocktails?
Being that it was the Hard Rock, there was plenty of cool music memorabilia to see at the hotel. It was definitely worth wandering around and taking a little tour of the property! This particular Hard Rock also had a suite that was designed by Bret Michaels, which you can stay in for a true rock star experience. The Hard Rock also provides the Temazcal experience, a traditional native Mexican purification ceremony, which is similar to a sweat lodge but more spiritual. The resort also offers the synchronicity massage, which takes music hits and syncs them with pressure and rhythm to create a unique and relaxing experience. Additionally, the hotel also features a Music Lab where guests can participate in different musical experiences such as being in a rock band or making a music video.
4. Take Advantage of Classes, Concerts, Etc.
One of the great things about an all-inclusive is that they always seem to have different classes, activities and music events that vary throughout the week—and you don’t need to pay for them! Take advantage of these things that might normally cost a lot of money. As soon as you check in, see what the resort has on the calendar that week.
One of the activities I really enjoyed on this trip was getting to do a few exercise classes with instructors from the Les Mills team. The Hard Rock also had a DJ and a concert going on while we were there. Additionally, besides lounging by the pool or in a cabana by the beach, the resort offers snorkeling, kayaking, tennis, biking and more. I really enjoyed my time hanging out in the Balinese bed cabanas by the beach!
5. If You Want To Venture Outside Of The Resort, Plan That First.
If you are planning to explore places outside of the resort, make sure to square everything away with the concierge and make a plan for transportation right away. It doesn’t hurt to ask them for tips and recommendations as well.
The hotel offers excursions such as snorkeling tours, scuba diving and an eco-archaeologist package at an additional cost. One evening, our group took a catamaran out on the water and brought along a sommelier for a sunset cruise and some wine tasting. It was such a fun (and beautiful) night, which I’ll never forget. Because we spent the majority of the time at the resort, it was nice to get out and experience a little piece of Mexico outside of the resort. It was also great to chat with our catamaran crew and hilarious sommelier who were locals and happy to chat about the area with us!
On another morning, we went out to take an exclusive tour of the new UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya opening in March 2017. It’s going to be an absolutely incredible spot that has the feel of a unique boutique hotel but with the amenities of an all-inclusive resort. It’s both chic and modern, yet captures the essence of the local area and can I say it—extremely Instagram-able! I’m already booking my trip back to UNICO 20°87° in the spring for the opening!
6. Stay Protected.
Plan ahead for all the elements of that specific location. Make sure you are protected from the sun, any insects or animals. Research and confirm whether you can drink the water, how safe it is if you walk out of the resort at night and have a back-up plan if you lose your identification cards, etc. Having all that figured out at the beginning ensures that you won’t have to worry as much throughout the trip and you can spend more time enjoying your vacation.
Besides sun protection, I’m going to bring up what you are all probably thinking about in regards to my trip to Mexico—Zika. I did have concerns about Zika going into the trip, but made sure to research it and consult with my doctor beforehand. I also looked up the best practices to avoid contracting Zika in the area and researched the best bug sprays to bring on the trip. As many of you know, you shouldn’t drink the water in Mexico, which was easy because the resort provided an abundance of fresh water bottles to keep us hydrated!
7. Stay Hydrated And Be Active.
With unlimited food and drinks while you lay out in the sun, it’s easy to overindulge, which is totally OK and partly why you’re on vacation. We suggest making sure you stay hydrated and maybe do a little exercise—even just a walk around the property! That way, when you return home, you feel relaxed and refreshed and less hungover, parched and sluggish.
When I found out that we were scheduled to do some activities and classes with instructors from the Les Mills team, I was actually really excited. Making the time to work out has been a struggle for me these days and I knew I needed a little kick of motivation. I figured that this would definitely help. Our instructors, Robin and Rigo, were absolutely fantastic and were able to tailor the exercises to everyone’s athletic ability. I really loved that music was such a big part of the classes and it really pumped me up, even when I was feeling exhausted. Les Mills is currently partnering with Hard Rock to enhance the wellness and exercise aspect of the all-inclusive resort! Read more about Les Mills Hard Rock experience here.
8. Treat Yourself.
Getting to spend time at a gorgeous all-inclusive resort is already treating yourself, but whether it’s a massage, breakfast in bed or just an afternoon nap in a hammock without the kids bugging you, do something that will feel even more special. After all, you’re on vacation!
I’m not going to lie, I was loving breakfast in bed and room service on this trip! I also enjoyed a relaxing massage and an afternoon in my personal hammock that overlooked the pools and ocean. Paradise!
9. ENJOY YOURSELF.
Whatever your plans are for your stay at an all-inclusive, just enjoy it because that’s why you are there. Be in the moment, have fun, do you!
When I was invited, along with a group of journalists, to experience the Hard Rock Hotel in the Riviera Maya for a few days, I was so excited and immediately said “yes.” Getting to travel and have these amazing opportunities is something that I really appreciate and never take for granted. During my stay, not only did I get the full Hard Rock resort experience, but I also met some new friends (which is another perk of media trips). I can’t say enough about how amazing this trip was and how much fun I had! A huge thanks to the awesome team at Zimmerman PR, Hard Rock Hotel and Les Mills for making this experience so fantastic!