Travels with Bob

Finding Your ‘Goldilocks’ Resort

Beach Resorts

All-Inclusive resorts come in all sizes and offer varied amenities, which makes finding the one right for you a little tricky.

With the weather turning colder and snow flurries in the forecast, it’s time to be thinking about getting away to “someplace warm” sometime in the months ahead.

The Caribbean and both coasts of Mexico are choice destinations for many people seeking a mid-winter retreat from the elements and, increasingly, many of us are attracted to all-inclusive resorts. But finding a ‘Goldilocks’ Resort – the one that’s just right for you – can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure about the type of vacation experience you actually desire.

All-inclusive resorts come in all sizes – small boutique properties, medium size and large scale with each offering a different experience. Don’t even think about anything less than a 3-star resort and be leery of the photos you may see on resort websites; such pictures may have been taken decades ago. I also am suspect of both the good and bad recommendations that you can view online from past guests you don’t know.

I generally do not recommend resorts with less than a 4-star rating and prefer 5-star properties if the budget allows. Look for properties that offer top-shelf beverages and a several dining options. Make sure the resort is truly “all-inclusive” and avoid those that simply use the word inclusive. You will find yourself paying extra for certain food and beverage items not included in the package offered by the “inclusive” resort.

Some resorts are not all-inclusive at all, with food and beverages on a pay-as-you-go basis. That may be the best option for vacationers wishing to dine around at restaurants outside the resort and those who won’t be consuming adult beverages. Other resorts may include breakfast in your vacation package, while your other meals will be à la carte.

What you want out of your vacation will also weigh heavily on your choice of resorts. A romantic getaway for two at a small boutique beachfront resort may be just right. On the other hand, if you are seeking nightlife as well as plenty of action and adventure, you will probably prefer a larger property with a variety of excursions outside the resort.

There are adults-only resorts, family-friendly resorts, wellness resorts with fabulous spas and resorts that offer something for almost everyone. Other resorts are located near championship golf courses, ancient ruins or rain forests that provide excellent offsite excursion opportunities.

Lead-in prices are usually for garden view rooms; ocean view and ocean front accommodations will be priced higher – sometimes substantially higher depending upon your specific date of arrival. It’s also important to understand what’s included in your vacation package when comparing resorts. Some resort packages may include round-trip air from your home city and airport transfers to the resort.

My favorite all-inclusive resorts are in Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Costa Rica and the Mexican Riviera, even though some of these destinations may require almost a full day of travel on both ends of your vacation. If you have only three or four days to get away, you obviously will be happier with a destination that’s easier to reach from home.

Understanding what you want from a mid-winter resort vacation, your personal travel preferences and your budget will set you on the right path to finding the property that’s just right for you – your Goldilocks resort.