It’s late October in Wisconsin, and as I look out my window the first snow of the year is coming down. The first snowfall is usually kind of exciting, you remember how beautiful the snow looks as it settles on lawns and trees, you think of the holidays getting closer, and the kids love it. But of course it won’t be long and the reality of cold days, darkness at 5pm, slippery driving, and the never ending shoveling will set in. It’s 5 months minimum until the sun feels warm again and we can look forward to Spring.
So as I watch the snow I am sorting through a few boxes my parents dropped off filled with memories from my youth that had been gathering dust in their basement. As I sort through it and out of sentimentality put more on the keep pile then the trash pile, I come across a picture that makes me smile. It’s me and one of my best high school friends in a small speedboat, cruising through Cancun. It was taken on Spring Break over 20 years ago, when I was 16 and my parents had decided to take us on our first International vacation, to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. The memories flood back from that trip, and in a chain reaction I start remembering all the other all-inclusive trips I’ve taken over the years, from that first one at age 16 to my most recent with my own children. As someone who loves travel so much I’ve made it my career, I realize that when it comes down to what is the type of vacation I love most, it’s that escape to the tropics at an all-inclusive resort that might just be the winner. I’ve been on 10 all-inclusive vacations, not including 2 cruises and an upcoming return to Cancun, over 21 years. I realize that my oldest is only 4 years younger now then when I first went, and it hits me how I’ve come almost full circle. I want to invite you to come with me as I share just a few of the memories of how much these trips have enriched my life.
It all started in the Spring of 1999. My parents told us that they’d like to go as a family to Mexico for Spring Break. I had never been outside the country at this point, for a 16 year old that’s not that unusual. My parents decided they’d let me invite a friend along, since my younger brothers are twins they had each other and my sister was 6, they figured I’d like someone my age to hang out with (probably so I wouldn’t whine about being bored). I invited my friend Brad and when March rolled around we were ready for adventure.
That week was such and amazing time. The resort was amazing. There were multiple pools and the beach was awesome. At the resort they had an entertainment staff whose job it was to organize activities throughout the day, for those who didn’t want to just lay in the sun. There were water volleyball games, beach volleyball, water polo, water obstacle courses, we definitely weren’t bored! At night there were shows to watch, music to listen to, games to play. As if the resort wasn’t enough we ventured off property to the flea market where we had a blast bargaining for our “Oakley” sunglasses and “Silver” chains. Yeah they were fake, but we knew that and with the prices we got there was no doubt. We also took an excursion to go ride the boats as we got to see the beauty of Cancun. We had such an amazing time that we went back to the same resort the next year, and this time Brad’s family came with as well. We had just as much fun the next year, when I look back it’s hard to distinguish which memory happened which year, but either way I knew I wanted to keep coming back
After a year off as I transitioned into college life, we went again as a family. To switch it up we decided to visit the Pacific coast of Mexico, the beautiful Puerto Vallarta. Even though the location was different, the experience was just as amazing. Now a bit older we were able to experience more of the night life. Once again there was an entertainment staff on site that were amazing. We made some good friends on the staff and were able to venture more into city itself. We went to a club, played pickup basketball, and even went to watch a local volleyball game. Once again we had such an amazing time that we had to come back that winter, this time I brought a new friend, my then girlfriend and my now wife. She must have had so much fun with us all that she knew marrying into the family would lead to many more trips…and she was right!
There was no doubt in our minds what my wife and I wanted to do for our Honeymoon, we knew we wanted the beach and an all-inclusive experience. We contacted the Travel Agent that my Dad had used for all those previous trips, and we told her we wanted to do an all-inclusive Mexican honeymoon. It was a suggestion she gave us that opened up a whole new world for us, and that was, have you ever considered the Dominican Republic? We had only ever known Mexico as a destination, but she told us about the beauty of the Dominican, and we said sure why not, as long as it’s warm and there are drinks! We were blown away by the beauty of the Dominican. We loved the resort and the beach was phenomenal. We did some excursions as well, we swam with dolphins and took a tour called “The Real Dominican Republic” which allowed us to get more into nature and also visit a working ranch and see how people in the country lived. We fell in love with the nation and we’ve been back twice since.
We both love the all-inclusive experience, as a married couple we went to the Dominican Republic 3 times, went back to Puerto Vallarta, and tried Cabo. Cabo was a favorite of my wife, we loved how it had the dry heat of the Southwest, less humidity. The truth is that between the Dominican Republic, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Cabo, there hasn’t been a destination that we haven’t enjoyed. Although each location has things that make it unique, honestly the experience we want is sun, water, good food, good drinks, and fun entertainment and excursions, and every destination has delivered.
Bringing The Kids
For the first 3 years of marriage we made an all-inclusive vacation an annual experience. Then we had the kids. We were able to go a few times when they were younger, but more of our trips became family oriented. Our most recent all-inclusive vacation was when we were able to introduce the kids to the experience. Any doubts we may have had about if they would like it were quickly erased as soon as we arrived. They absolutely loved everything about it. They loved the pools, the beach, the games. They loved the entertainment, the fruity and tropical drinks, and the food. Oh my goodness they loved the food. Tacos, Nachos, Sushi…yes, Sushi! They loved the animals on site, they loved relaxing in the sun, they loved the time spent as a family. We had a great time as well, seeing it all through their eyes, and knowing that as we continue to make the all-inclusive experience a regular family tradition, it will be just a few short years until we’re letting our kids invite their friends, and their grandparents, and their cousins, and let’s be honest, the more the merrier. We will have come full circle.
So if my memories didn’t convince you, you may ask, is an all-inclusive right for me and my family? Well, my answer is yes! I can answer that confidently because I know that whatever your family situation is, different ages, different tastes, different priorities, there is something for everyone at an all-inclusive resort. There are many varieties of restaurants, from quick grab snacks, to full buffets, to specialty and fine dining. The drinks are plentiful, but don’t need to be alcoholic. You can try new things and not worry about wasting money if you didn’t like something, simply send it back and order something new.
There are plenty of options to explore your destination through shopping and excursions, however the resorts are designed to meet all of your needs right on property. There are nightly shows and music. There are clubs, bars, lounges, and even sometimes casinos and golf courses attached. The resorts are safe, they have security measures in place to make sure no one is on property that isn’t supposed to be there, and there is friendly staff all around who are ready to accommodate any requests with a smile. The ability to leave home, take a non-stop flight, have a transfer provided, and know that all of your expenses and entertainment needs will be met allows these trips to fit into your budget without hidden or surprise costs. Purchase the travel insurance and rest assured that anything that comes up before, during, or after your trip will be resolved.
So if you’ve made it this far, I hope you’re ready to start planning your first, or your next all-inclusive vacation. Let’s talk about the experience you’re looking for and let’s get it on your calendar!