What it’s Really Like at a Luxury All-Inclusive Resort
Let me begin by saying, up until recently, I’d never been a fan of all-inclusive resorts. I once stayed in one in Europe and found it to be a bizarre experience akin to an adult summer camp complete with forced interactions, wristbands and very sugary cocktails. Based on this initial and awkward experience, I surmised they were not for me.
That is until I recently experienced a dream all-inclusive week at Secrets Maroma Beach, beautifully located on Mexico's Riviera Maya. Now, I’m a total convert. With my memories and my tan still intact, here’s what I discovered about what it’s really like staying at a luxury all-inclusive resort.
Not all resorts require you to wear a wristband
Arriving at the 5-star Secrets Maroma Beach was akin to arriving at any luxury resort. I was helped out of my taxi by a porter who promptly took our bags and ushered us inside, where we were presented with a glass of Champagne as we went through the check-in process. The staff member gave us a map of the resort, pointing out all of the highlights including restaurants, bars and activity areas, all of which were part of the all-inclusive experience. The only one not included was the spa, where you could book and pay extra for an appointment, and a restaurant reserved for VIP members. Other than that, we could go and drink and eat and play wherever we wanted; no wrist band required!
Once in our incredibly luxurious room, featuring a balcony and a spa bath almost the size of my bed, our concierge also came to greet us and asked us if she could do anything for us. She recommended that if we wanted to dine at the Teppanyaki restaurant, she could book it for us, as it was the only restaurant that required a reservation. We of course, took her up on the offer.
It’s not just a holiday for families
Pre-my Secrets Resorts experience, I always imagined all-inclusive resorts as more of a holiday for families. My visions of kids' clubs and kids' pools and kids touching the dessert buffet quickly vanished though when I heard Secrets Maroma was adults only. In fact, all Secrets Resorts are adults only.
And while it’s completely ideal for a couples holiday, there were also plenty of groups of friends at the resort too, so it offered both a romantic and lively atmosphere.
You won’t just be dining at a buffet
I’m not ashamed to admit, I ate like King Henry VIII on this holiday. The novelty of being able to order whatever I wanted off the menu (even room service!) didn’t seem to wane at all. Plus, the food was so incredibly good! In terms of dining, Secrets actually has a range of restaurants to try and only one buffet, and a breakfast buffet at that. Because who doesn’t love a breakfast buffet!
For lunch, my partner and I tended to hang around the pool where we could just eat from our pool lounge or dine on fresh seafood at the Seaside Grill nearby. For dinner though, we enjoyed the delicious adventure of trying a new restaurant each night and were blown away by the quality of food and service. The Mexican restaurant was my favourite as it was where I had the BEST tacos I’ve ever had in my life! I also loved the Teppanyaki restaurant for the theatrics of it, and dining alfresco at the Italian restaurant as a violinist played was especially romantic.
You’ll never need to get up for a drink
I knew Secrets Resorts included premium drinks, but I didn’t realise just how easy it would be to indulge in them. At 10am on my first morning, I was relaxing on one of the lounges on the beach when a staff member approached me, told me he’d be my waiter for the day, and asked if I wanted anything to drink. Startled and in the holiday spirit, I threw caution to the wind and decided on a breakfast Bloody Mary. Minutes later, I was sipping on it while soaking up the rays. It was dangerously easy!
During the week I was approached every half an hour or so to order a drink. I worked my way through the tequilas on offer and quickly found a favourite in Don Julio. I also loved the Mango Margarita. Even when I told the waiter that I'd sit this round out, staff would still bring me a frozen margarita just in case I changed my mind, and inevitably I did.
There’s so much more than just eating and drinking
Granted, I did spend most of my holiday lounging on the beach or by the pool, sipping margaritas before dining on a sumptuous three course meal. But, before you judge me, I’ll have you know I got up and did things as well. Every evening, there was a new timetable of activities for the next day delivered to our room, some of which, when I’d had enough sun, I took part in.
On some mornings I took a break from the buffet to do an outdoor yoga class, and I also worked off some cocktails at the very fun water aerobics classes. My partner and I enjoyed a small catamaran ride, and also played a game of mini golf, pool and football pool (which I now know is a thing). For the more adventurous and active, there were plenty more options; from gym classes to bike tours, beach volleyball, pool basketball, Spanish lessons and even cocktail making classes.
You still need to tip
I found it quite exhilarating booking an all-inclusive holiday and knowing there’d be no extra expenses - unless I felt like booking a massage. With that said though, I do recommend bringing some cash with you to tip. They certainly don’t expect it, but the staff are so fantastic that you will want to reward them for the service. Even though I was in Mexico, the staff happily accepted American dollars, and I tended to mainly tip the bar staff, waiters and housekeeping.