Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It? We Tried It, And It’s Not Our Thing

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Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It? We Tried It, And It’s Not Our Thing

Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It? We Tried It, And It’s Not Our Thing

Are all inclusive resorts worth it? Not for us. My wife and I recently stayed at an all-inclusive resort for the first time, and it just wasn’t for us. Sure, the food was great. Facilities were amazing. Impressive features and layout. Awesome staff. But it just wasn’t our thing. We checked it out, and it’s not for us. Here’s our experience, for anyone wondering what the hype is all about.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. This property is in San Juan del Cabo, Baja California, in Mexico. This property requires 20,000 Hyatt points per night. Cash price for a basic room the nights we stayed was $588. That’s a redemption value of nearly 3 cents per point, which is definitely higher than average value for Hyatt points.

We stayed for 2 nights.

Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It? We Tried It, And It’s Not Our Thing
Map of the grounds at Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

The Positives

There are definitely positives. In no way will I pretend the property wasn’t impressive. The size is incredible, the number of things offered is incredible, and the food is incredible for sure.

We booked the first night in my name and the 2nd in my wife’s, so we can both get credit for Hyatt Brand Explorer. That’s a plus, since we’d never stayed at a Ziva brand hotel before. Since I have Globalist status, the hotel was expecting us and upgraded us to a room with a balcony. Having a balcony with the space to look out toward the ocean is great.

The staff were also awesome. We found them super friendly, attentive, and helpful. Despite this previous review saying service need improvements, we found them to be great. Maybe there are fewer people at the hotel right now, so staff is more available… It could be that they hired more people and had training… I don’t know. It seemed pretty full, but staff were great in our experience. We especially enjoyed the VIP check-in area (a Globalist perk).

The sheer amount of options was awesome, as well. Tons of restaurant options: buffet, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, French, sports bar, coffee shop, food out by the pool, casual, fancy…they have it! Not worrying about the bill was super simple, as well. It’s all included! Not seeing cash registers anywhere is a strange experience. Just leave when you’re done eating—no bill to pay!

And there are zillions of options for activities, as well.

The Negatives

With so many positives, what are the negatives? First, the vibe. That’s why I’m saying this place just wasn’t our thing. Even though there is an “adults only” pool area that is calmer, I’m not interested in “Spring Break party by the pool” mode 24/7. And that was what we got around the main pool, which is where our room was. The constant DJ with music and telling people to throw their hands in the air etc. by the pool is not my ideal poolside atmosphere. And these events with the DJ and loud music etc. drifted right up into our balcony. If you want to avoid this scene, that becomes tough when it’s basically right under your balcony. Even with our balcony door closed, it was nearly inescapable. Drunk Spring Break partiers yelling “woo!” isn’t my scene. Never was.

This made us avoid the pool at most times. It made our balcony difficult to enjoy (there are no rooms facing away from the pool/ocean, FYI—facing toward the city to escape this atmosphere is not a room type they have—just bigger/smaller/more features options). You could have a room overlooking other areas, but you won’t truly be away from this centralized area.

Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It? We Tried It, And It’s Not Our Thing

I will caveat that by saying that we enjoyed the traditional Mexican music & dancing performance by the pool on the first night. Despite finding the atmosphere around the pool annoying during most of the day time, this part was good.

Are All Inclusive Resorts Worth It?

While we liked the “idea” of the all inclusive, the actual atmosphere of it was not for us at all. Hyatt Ziva is a “family” all inclusive, while their Hyatt Zilara brand is for adults only. I am not sure if the adults-only option would be better, since this option was pretty “adults party with bad music” while being an all-ages location. Will we fork out the points for an experiment like this with Zilara, just to see if it changes our minds? Unlikely.

I have been curious about all-inclusive properties for a while. My wife’s sister and her family ONLY stays at all-inclusive properties. They love it. Maybe that’s because the kids can do their own thing while the parents lay by the pool drinking all day. My wife and I don’t have kids, so that doesn’t matter to us. We also don’t drink alcohol, so the value proposition of unlimited access to alcohol isn’t a draw for us.

Stocked mini-bar in the hotel room, everything is included.

For us, all-inclusive resorts don’t seem worth it. Maybe you have a different opinion, but we wanted to sample it and have realized it’s “1 and done” for us. Yes, we did get an excellent redemption value in terms of “cents per point”. However, we could get less value per point while getting more value in enjoyment and at lower cost in terms of total points to spend. We did an experiment, coughed up 40,000 Hyatt points for the 2 nights, and we decided the all-inclusive resort thing isn’t worth it for us.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Review

Final Thoughts

This is not a blow on the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos property. The amount of things they offer is incredible. We found the property beautiful, food delicious, and staff friendly. We really liked the idea of it, but the experience makes us think all-inclusive resorts aren’t worth it for us. Why? It boils down to the atmosphere. We prefer to relax by the pool, not the DJ/drunk Spring Break atmosphere at the pool. And the inability to get away from that atmosphere even in our room made us leave after 2 nights. We were much happier at the Hyatt Place just down the road.

What are your thoughts on all-inclusive properties—worth it or not? Good experiences or not?

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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26 COMMENTS

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Definitely love the convenience of being able to drink and eat without additional cost but we always tip extra. I’d say if your not a drinker probably not worth it since alcohol will always be the higher cost just like eating out always adds more to your bill!

  2. Try the Xcaret an hour out of Cancun. Not only the hotel but the whole darn park PLUS the show (with Mexican music) afterwards. It’ll blow you away!

  3. We have stayed at many all-inclusive and many regular hotels/resorts. But our favorite all-inclusive is Sandals. Sandals is adults only. But there are many locations so the choices are endless. The quietest being Sandals Royal Plantation in Jamaica so far. The Sandals Ochi is across the road and after staying there twice, we prefer the Plantation due to the quiet. The Ochi beach has the usual party atmosphere by the main pool all day which is not our scene either. The Plantation is quiet and relaxing if that is what you want. Good value for the money and Plantation is all butler suites all the the time. Until you have tried this place, avoid categorizing all-inclusive please. This experience is one to write positively about.

  4. Not really sure I understand your argument. So one all inclusive had an obnoxious party scene, and that means every all inclusive is the same way and not worth it? And now you write them all off because of one bad experience? What if that DJ party scene was at a non all inclusive? Would you just stop staying at hotels altogether?

    • Those were my exact thoughts too. I can understand the alcohol argument as you are overpaying for that with an all-inclusive if you don’t drink, but the other argument was weak regarding the noise/vibe when sample size is just 1 all-inclusive. Also, the author said “it wasn’t for us” about 10 times in the article. We get it already.

  5. I’m glad you gave an honest review of this. I’ve been considering trying a Hyatt AI myself. We don’t drink either and this would ruin our stay as well. I’ve been to several resorts with pool bars which we don’t mind because people don’t drink excessively there and we can still enjoy the pool ourselves. But this spring break party scene is not enjoyable for non drinkers and I’m surprised at a family-friendly resort that goes on there.

  6. I appreciate your honest review. My family of five has stayed at 2 all-inclusives (Now Amber in Puerto Vallarta and Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres). Neither of them had the spring break vibe. Both were fairly laid back and elegant.

  7. Great post. Resorts not our thing either. We prefer more local, non corporate experiences. Everyone tries so much and we appreciate it for what it is but don’t feel so glutton in our travels. Trying not to be a “pig headed American tourist” out of touch with where we are. Generic! BTW, a “Marriott status” means nothing in the real world

  8. What a wasted opportunity to truly compare Ziva to Zilara just down the road AND knock off another brand explorer stamp for both of you. Now you will have to forever wonder…

    • Lukas – There’s not a Zilara just down the road. In Cancun, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, those are just down the road. Here and Puerto Vallarta, there is only Ziva.

  9. Ziva Los cabos was our first all inclusive experience as well this past june. We found it wasn’t suited for us aswell. It was crowded, food left much to be desired when there are so many food local food options in Cabo. We went out for food at least 4-5times during our 3 night stay.

  10. We just stayed her the first week of August, 2021. My BF and I shared a swim-up room with one of our friends and for a five night stay we paid a little less than $1k per person. Other than the two off-property excursions we experienced we remained on-site for almost our entire stay. We found the value of this specific all-inclusive was tremendous as we do drink and literally almost all day every day we were swimming in one of the pools, eating and drinking. Typically when we travel we are on the go non-stop and our room is just for sleeping and an occasional breakfast. With this trip we wanted to relax more then normal and we found tremendous value in the all-inclusive part. Typically we stay at Marriott properties based on my status/preference/points but we would definitely stay at the Hyatt Ziva again. We also felt safer at this property during covid then anywhere in the US. In addition to our free covid screening, scheduled as soon as we checked in and administered three days prior to our flight home, all of the staff were in masks, gloves and glasses. Overall a great experience if you’re going to eat, drink and swim. As to the loudness, we were right by the adult pool and other than one full day of parties in that pool, it was extremely quiet in and around our room. This might have also been from the lower than normal occupancy based on covid.

  11. I’ve only stayed at 3 all inclusive resorts, one of which was the Ziva Los Cabos earlier this year. I’m not much for all inclusives but I did enjoy the Ziva. It wasn’t busy and we have two young children so we hung out by the kids pool most of the time. Resort had great amenities for kids and decent food so for families it’s a more relaxing time than some places. I don’t care if my kid changes his mind on his meal or drink choices 3x in 10 mins lol but I don’t know if I would go there without kids…

  12. To add on to the above, there are definitely All-inclusives that are similar to the Ziva for the pros without what seems like the only real con you had. TRS Yucatan & Coral, Excellence Playa Mujeres & Riviera Cancun, pretty much all Zoetry and most Secrets hotels, Unico 2087, even Hyatt Zilara Cancun are all pretty good about this while still having the pros you mentioned about food/service/atmosphere. Some have a party area, but it’s usually easy enough to get a room away from that. Excellence Riviera Cancun’s base rooms, for example, are all around the quiet lazy river/spa. TRS Yucatan has almost no rooms that face loud areas, and also have some nice romantic bungalows and suites with private pools.

    And being a loud party hotel is certainly not unique to All-inclusives. I’m currently writing this from my room at the Moxy South Beach while listening to the music from the pool below with the windows and blinds fully closed. We picked a party hotel so don’t mind it, but loud music/”fun” is certainly not limited to AIs, and many actually do a good job of having rooms away from it.

    Writing off all AIs bc of a single (albeit big) issue at one is like writing off all steakhouses because the first one you went to didn’t season your steak.

  13. We’ve been to a few and had a great time, but we also like leaving the resorts and exploring the area we’re in. It doesn’t end up being all incluvsive when we’re eating in town, or going to local bars.

  14. I’ve been to plenty of all-inclusive resorts in many islands and Mexico, including the Ziva brand, and found that there’s a huge variety of experiences out there. Including high end luxury, refined experiences with good food and service, and some with zero partying.

    Not drinking definitely can hurt the value proposition. But I wouldn’t write off the entire vacation format from one 3 night stay at a Ziva

      • Sure. Some are adults only and some family. Le Blanc (Cancun), Grand Residences Riviera Maya (Mexico), Sandals brand (various Caribbean). Hyatt just bought a ton of all-I club idea and I’ve been checking those out. Some seem very high end. I’m with you—I’ve stayed at Hard Rock all inclusive and not my scene! Forced fun and non stop manufactured partying. Akin to a Carnival Cruise whereas I prefer Celebrity.

      • The Secrets in Los Cabos, just East of the Ziva, is adults only and more refined and less party (formally an AMResorts chain, now bought by Hyatt). As you know, not all properties in a chain are alike. For example, the Secrets in Cabo is secluded and elegant while the one in Puerto Vallarta is connected to the Now Amber, which is a family brand. So the whole exclusive, separation is moot. Likewise, the Ziva in Cabo while very good, does get a lot of events, families, groups, etc. While I haven’t stayed at the Zilara in Cancun, the one in Punta Cana (Cap Cana) D.R. is a separate adjacent property to the Ziva, where you can go if you like. So while the Ziva has the families, the Zilara was quite quiet and peaceful.

      • The Hyatt Ziva/Zilara in Montego Bay is pretty chill, especially if you go when school is in session. My wife and I stayed there 3 years ago and loved it. When my wife and I wanted away from the small area of hard core partyers, we walked next door to the Ziva and were the only people at the swim up bar so we just sat and read. We’re going back next month. I absolutely will say that if you don’t drink and are vegan, there’s just a lot less value to be had. Also, not sure if this is your thing but the Jamaican government lowered fines for pot possession to USD$5, making it not worth the trouble to pursue by the cops so there are some alternatives for non-drinkers. Ganja is not include though.

  15. Yeah, I went to an all-inclusive recently and saw Americans blacking out pool side. It amazes me how much more responsible Mexicans are at drinking. I’m all for having a good time, but watching people black out is gross.

    • Maybe it’s because of the regressive laws America has when it comes to alcohol. In no other country can you vote, bear arms, fight and die for your country but can’t legally have a beer. You end up having to deal with a “forbidden fruit” syndrome when these guys go overseas, with ready access to alcohol and no one telling them no.

      • That was a huge problem when I was stationed in Germany in the army. 18yo with little supervision and easy access to cheap alcohol. The DUI rate was awful.

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