Are All-Inclusive Resorts Worth It in Cancun?

Traveling to a foreign country can be daunting, and when you first see the cost of an all-inclusive resort, it can seem too expensive.

But are they really worth it?

If you compare the cost of your standard hotel room to what a resort would charge for a day’s stay, an all-inclusive resort can be worth every penny.

Here are some reasons why you might want to consider booking an all-inclusive stay in Cancun.

No Time to Read? Here's the Quick Answer:

An all-inclusive resort in Cancun is worth it if you love having all the frills when it comes to staying in a resort.

There's no need to worry about any costs outside of your room and flight.

One thing you should know is that a trip to Cancun is not cheap.

However, if you go the DIY route, you can definitely score some deals if you plan ahead and make smart decisions.

For example, if you're planning on spending an entire week exploring the beaches, taking in some culture and rarely spending time in the resort – perhaps opting for a standard hotel might be easier on the wallet than an all-inclusive package.


The Pros of an All-Inclusive Resort

1. Saves You Money

Many people underestimate how much staying in a resort will cost.

A single night’s stay at a resort in the Hotel Zone could cost upwards of $250 during high season, whereas a similar all-inclusive property could be the same price if you really did your homework.

Tip: Book your all-inclusive stay along with your airfare as a package – it’s much cheaper than booking it separately.

The benefit of an all-inclusive property is that once you get to the resort, you can relax and pretty much put aside your wallet for the rest of your trip.

You don’t have to pay for food or drinks at the bar, and you don’t have to worry about paying a ridiculous amount for bottled water or any other beverages in your room.

There are generally no fees for Wi-Fi or local phone calls, so you won’t have to pay extra for these amenities either.

Best RIU in Cancun for Your All-Inclusive Stay

Oh, but you found a really great deal on a non-all-inclusive resort?

Let’s put things into perspective – say you found these two properties (rates based on double occupancy for one night):

Standard Resort: $178 / All-Inclusive Resort: $179

Marriott Cancun Resort comparison price
Standard Resort (Tripadvisor)
Occidental Costa Cancun comparison price
All-inclusive resort (Tripadvisor)

Surely, you’d think you can save a few bucks with the first hotel option…but there’s literally no comparison!

The prices are the same, the screenshot says it all.

If you’re willing to shop around, you’re bound to snag a good deal.

2. Saves You Time & Planning

If you don’t love planning trips and rather not get into the nitty-gritty details of booking a million things, an all-inclusive resort can be a good option.

It’ll allow more time for excursions and exploring the area because you won’t have to worry about meal planning or packing lunches.

Save your sanity and dine at on-site restaurants that are included in your stay whenever you feel hungry.

Not only that! You’ll also save on transportation costs as most packages include shuttle transfers from the airport.

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3. No Hidden Fees

There are many people who go on vacation and get hit with hidden fees during check-out.

You know, something that you didn’t realize you agreed to.

What’s this extra charge for $478?!

For example, some resorts charge $40-$60 to use a beachfront cabana for the day. Depending on your resort package, you might have this perk thrown in for free.

All-inclusive resorts make it easy to know exactly what you are paying for; some people like this because they know there won’t be any nasty surprises at the end of their stay.

Poolside at cancun resort
photo by ClatieK

4. You Don’t Have to Worry About Food!

The best part about all-inclusive resorts is that they offer unlimited meals.

You can literally spend your entire vacay with a plate full of food in front of you at all times, if you really wanted to.

If you choose to eat out at the local restaurants, the expenses can add up pretty quickly.

Typically, all-inclusive resorts feature a variety of restaurants, from steakhouses to Asian-themed eateries. You’ll also find plenty of buffets, and the food is fresh and delicious.

You don’t have to rack your brain to think of a place to eat at throughout the day.

It’s one less thing to worry about when traveling abroad, and that’s always a good thing!

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5. Unlimited Boozy Drinks

If you drink alcohol like it’s water, staying at an all-inclusive could be a huge bonus for you.

There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a few alcoholic beverages while on vacation, and everything is included in your room rate.

A typical resort in Cancun will charge around $8 or more for a cocktail at the bar.

The expenses can quickly rack up, and it’s possible that you’ll spend more money on these drinks than you would have on food and other amenities during your stay.

For party goers who prefer to dance and drink the night away look no further than these party resorts.

6. Free 24-Hour Room Service

If you wake up in the middle of the night and want a snack or something to drink, just roll over in bed and dial down to the front desk – it’s all included anyways.

Or maybe you had a rough night from, ahem, too much to drink and the thought of making your way down to the restaurant for breakfast is an unthinkable task.

There’s no need to change out of last night’s outfit; wake up and enjoy a hearty meal in bed with all the trimmings, you deserve it!

This is a luxury that usually comes with an ugly price tag at a regular resort.

Beach View from Cancun Resort
photo by opacity

7. There’s No Need to Leave Your Resort

Love the idea of relaxing poolside with everything within arms reach?

All-inclusive resorts are designed with convenience and comfort in mind; you have access to everything that you need.

You won’t have to worry about meals or drinks and you’ll also get to enjoy all of the amenities at the resort such as swimming pools, free water sports, restaurants, bars and nightclubs without having to pay for anything extra (except maybe tipping the staff for good service!)

All-inclusive resorts make it easy for you to relax and enjoy your stay.

8. Great for Families & Groups

An all-inclusive resort is also a great option for families visiting with children or large groups.

Tracking expenses can get messy, especially if you’re traveling with a group of people.

All-inclusive resorts often have good value; unless you’re really good at budgeting, you’ll end up paying less for your stay.

You’ll save money (and headaches!) by booking an all-inclusive resort that offers everything you need for a great vacation.

All-Inclusive Resort FAQ

What Does All-Inclusive Mean in Cancun?

All-inclusive means that all meals, snacks, drinks and entertainment are included in the price of your stay.

That’s right. You don’t have to pay anything extra while you’re on vacation in Cancun (within the resort, of course!).

This is a huge perk of all-inclusive resorts because it eliminates a lot of the stress that comes with traveling to Mexico.

Tip: If this is your first time staying at an all-inclusive and don’t want to commit to an entire trip, consider booking a day pass to one of the resorts!

Do You Tip at All-Inclusive Resorts?

Tipping is not required at all-inclusive resorts, but you may be surprised to know that a lot of people still tip.

It’s most common to tip in USD bills ($1-2 for a server that brings you a drink). $20 per day for two people is usually more than enough.

The staff at all-inclusive resorts work very hard and they will appreciate your generosity. It’s just nice to show some gratitude for the hard work they do.

If you have an especially good experience with a server or bartender, then feel free to give them a little extra cash as a tip. You’ll be making their day!

Another cheeky reason is that you’ll leave an impression on the resort staff and they may give you an upgrade or special treatment 😉

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How Much Money Should I Bring to an All-Inclusive Resort?

Plan to bring enough money to cover tips, taxi rides and souvenirs for your stay at an all-inclusive resort.

If you want to tip the servers and hotel staff, bring about $20 in small bills for each day (tipping is always appreciated, but it’s not necessary).

And if you’re doing any excursions, bring some extra cash for those as well.

As far as souvenir shopping goes, it’s up to you how much you plan to buy.

If you love buying gifts for friends and family, then you might want to bring a little more spending money since a lot of the small local shops only take cash.

Food at All-Inclusive vs. Restaurants

The food at all-inclusive resorts are generally pretty good, but won’t be winning any awards if you compare it to a restaurant that literally just specializes in cooking food.

But take this with a huge bucket of salt because it really comes down to the resort.

Tip: Make sure to read traveler reviews on TripAdvisor; it’ll give you a good idea on what to expect when it comes to the food at the resort.

Some resorts have meal plans that are specially curated by celebrity chefs and in our experience, we’ve stayed at multiple all-inclusive properties and have had excellent food.

Although not located in the Hotel Zone, we highly recommend staying at Haven Riviera Cancun if you want amazing food.

Note that, all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya have a wide selection of restaurants within each property, so if you don’t like the food at one restaurant, you can always find something else to eat that suits your taste.

What Should I Pack for an All-Inclusive Vacation?

The best thing about all-inclusive resorts is that you don’t have to worry about packing too much stuff!

You can leave your beach bag at home because everything you need will be provided for you at the resort.

Just make sure to bring all the essentials, the boutique stores at resorts usually charge a bit more than what you’d find at home.

Or when you arrive, hail a cab and pay a visit to the local convenience store to load up on supplies.

No one wants to pay $50 for a tube of sunblock.

Some items you might want to bring with you include:

Sunscreen – Bring at least SPF 50 to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. The sun can get merciless and you don’t want to get sunburned while on vacation!!

Bug Spray – If you’re going anywhere tropical, it’s a good idea to bring some bug spray with you. The mosquitoes can be quite annoying if they bite you all day long.

Toiletries – If you’re super nitpicky about your toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner are just some of the things that you might want to pack in your suitcase before your trip.

Most all-inclusive resorts have free toiletries in the bathrooms but it’s always nice to have your own personal stash!

Shoes – You’ll most likely be doing a lot of walking from one end of the resort to the other so it’s a good idea to wear comfy shoes.

It’s not a good idea to wear your new stilettos on vacation because your feet will ache.

A pair of flip flops or comfy sandals are perfect for all-inclusive resorts!

A Good Book – It’s always nice to sit in the sun and relax while reading a good novel.

Camera – Bring your camera (or your phone) with you so that you can take pictures and capture all of the fun memories that you’ll have while on vacation. You will want proof that it was all real 😉

Eyeglasses/Contacts: If you wear glasses, it’s a great idea to bring an extra pair with you too in case anything happens to your current pair. You don’t want to be on vacation and not be able to see!

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Are All-Inclusive Resorts Safe?

One of the biggest worries that travelers have when they’re in Cancun is safety.

There’s a lot of scams in Mexico and many people end up getting ripped off while they’re on vacation.

You can mitigate a lot of the risk by staying at an all-inclusive resort. They’re generally safe as long as you stay at a reputable property.

Resort Upgrades to be Aware Of

You can get by without spending an extra dime outside of the cost of your all-inclusive stay, but there’s a few (non-essential) upgrades that can get you to open up the wallet:

Room Upgrades
Premium Dinner Packages
Premium Liquor Packages
Spa Treatments
Adults-Only Section

Of course, a lot of these add-ons are found at regular resorts as well, but just something to be aware of!

Is the Food at An All-Inclusive Resort Safe to Eat?

You can trust that all of the food and drinks will be safe for consumption.

Resorts have food safety certificates that state that their food is free from harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.

However, it’s best to avoid raw foods such as meat, fish and eggs if you have weak stomachs or food allergies as this can make you very sick.