It was my soon-to-be husband’s idea. Soon after we were engaged he suggested that we take an all-inclusive vacation for our honeymoon. I’d never been to an all-inclusive resort, but l thought, why not? Sun, sand, drinks in my hand – what’s not to love? So, it was decided. Next step? Meeting with a local travel agent to point us in just the right direction.
Prior to our appointment, my “all-inclusive resort” google search provided me with options galore, but the choices seemed to all blend together. When we finally sat down with the travel agent (the first time I had ever used one), she provided us with a list of recommended properties and asked us to pick one, but provided little to no direction. Having never visited any of the resorts on the list herself, she suggested the best way to make the right choice would be to look at the various websites of the suggested destinations (Really?) After perusing websites, we quickly settled on Excellence Playa Mujeres in the Riviera Maya. The website photos depicted exactly the type of place we wanted to visit. A relaxing, romantic, tropical paradise – SOLD!
It was our honeymoon, so we went all out. At travel agent lady’s suggestion, we invested in the Excellence Club and selected a room with a rooftop plunge pool – a wise suggestion which made the trip especially memorable. Once the vows were said, we hopped on a plane and arrived in Mexico for our first week of wedded bliss.
In full disclosure, I was completely convinced that our travel agent was going to ensure that we were going to have the honeymoon of a lifetime – I mean, wasn’t that what we were paying her for? However, after we paid our fee and signed on the dotted line though, there seemed to be little interest on her part to do anything out of the ordinary for us. In fact, I actually remember a day when she abruptly ended a phone call with me because she was picking up her kids from daycare. Ouch. With little time to worry about it, I just figured that she was working her magic behind the scenes and all of our honeymoon dreams would come true once we arrived in paradise.
Well, my assumptions turned out to be more of a myth than reality. I will be the first to echo many when I say that Excellence Playas Mujeres is beautiful. The pictures didn’t lie. The whole place is well-manicured, clean, tidy and situated quite perfectly in what seems to be the most secluded spot outside of Cancun. We checked in and were assigned room 9456 and it was stunning. The balconies faced what is now the new Finest Playa Mujeres resort, but at the time it was just sand and trees (the picture I’ve included at the top this article was taken on the rooftop terrace of our room – not by us though!). On the rooftop, the view was simply out of this world – ocean for as far as the eye could see. It was truly a sight to behold. I am convinced that, at the time and prior to the Finest construction, building 9 had the nicest, most private rooftop terraces on the resort. Unlike some of the rooms at EPM, no one can overlook your RTT and the unobstructed views of the ocean were mind-blowing. Travel agent lady did get a thumbs up in this area.
But once we arrived, we were on our own. There was no guidance from our travel agent on how to book excursions or which one would be the most highly recommended (and no, she hadn’t planned any in advance for us – insert angry face here), what restaurant was most popular on property (EPM now has thirteen dining options available with no reservations required), what daily activities should we try and take advantage of……she basically booked our room reservation and that was it. I remember thinking to myself………..”I could have done better than this”……….but in an ocean of websites about luxury all-inclusives – during a time when I was also planning a wedding – where was I supposed to go find this information?
Now there is good information out there. I, for one, love TripAdvisor. But there are few people that will dedicate as much time as I do into reading every review, looking at every recommendation from every member, for every resort that they think they might want to add to their list of potential properties to visit. So, I thought, wouldn’t it be great just to create one website where you could go to find all this stuff?
Before starting, I reviewed some of the other websites that feature various all-inclusive resorts. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good….but don’t always seem super-authentic. I get the feeling that in exchange for free travel or discounted rooms to offer to the customers of their travel agency, their reviews and suggestions are biased and should we say……”overly complimentary”? I mean, let’s be real….there is no way that every resort that they visit can have the “best” food, the “best” drinks, and the “best” service. Highly unlikely, folks.
So, I created All-Inclusive Insider. My hope for the website is that it provides visitors with great tips for visiting some of the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the world. When I was booking my honeymoon to EPM, it would have been great to know what room block to request (I would now suggest block 8), what restaurant to visit (Chez Isabelle is the most highly recommended – we missed this one during our honeymoon), and what excursion to book (I’ve heard the day trip to Isle of Mujeres is a blast!). I also would have enjoyed being able to contact someone (like myself!) who would have been able to recommend the type of resort that my husband and I were looking for…..instead of just relying on the pictures of a website to help me make up my mind (I know, I know….that should have been my first warning). My goal is to also keep myself and my visitors up to date on the most recent news on all things related to all-inclusives! By doing so, I hope we can travel happy, make memories and relax together as some of the most fabulous places this crazy world has to offer!