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Old 08-08-2017, 03:59 PM   #41
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If the OP likes leaving the resort, I would avoid going to Jamaica. It's not very safe, especially the closer to Kingston you get.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:03 PM   #42
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I do think a lot of people go to the lower third of Hotels and expect to have a top notch holiday with amazing food and everything else.
The only all-inclusive I've been to was one of the higher-end ones in the Mayan Riviera. I'd rate its food as Boston Pizza/Chili's/Montana's level. But really, what do you expect when you're looking at buffets serving hundreds of people? The a la carte restaurants weren't really any better food-wise either, they just had a nicer atmosphere.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:09 PM   #43
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If the OP likes leaving the resort, I would avoid going to Jamaica. It's not very safe, especially the closer to Kingston you get.
A buddy of mine was warned by the staff at an all-inclusive in Jamaica not to leave the resort. He did anyway and got mugged within half an hour.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:10 PM   #44
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The only all-inclusive I've been to was one of the higher-end ones in the Mayan Riviera. I'd rate its food as Boston Pizza/Chili's/Montana's level. But really, what do you expect when you're looking at buffets serving hundreds of people? The a la carte restaurants weren't really any better food-wise either, they just had a nicer atmosphere.
Yup, the food at All-inclusives are mediocre at best, and that includes even the fanciest 5 stars. The only exception i've had to that was the Excellence Chain (I i've stayed At the Excellence Riviera Maya and Excellence Playa Mejueres). These guys don't even run a supper Buffet. Food was quite good at the restaurants, but if you go there thinking you are going to be eating at Vintage Chop House every night you are going to be very disappointed.

I always get a kick about the people complaining about the food. You are paying between 3K and 6K for a week at an ocean front property for two people. That's not a lot of money. Properties are amazing, but not sure why people think they are going to be fed like they are Nobu in Vegas.

I also get a kick of the people on the resort that tell you all day how great the food is. They've either never ate a good restaurant or are straight lying. The food is mediocre, it's as simple as that. Never understood people who refuse to say anything remotely negative about their vacation experiences. It's almost like they have to paint this perfect picture for you.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:11 PM   #45
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A buddy of mine was warned by the staff at an all-inclusive in Jamaica not to leave the resort. He did anyway and got mugged within half an hour.
I believe it's on the travel warning for both Canada and the US.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:13 PM   #46
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It's hard to be super accurate when ignoring the crippling poverty generally experienced by the majority of Mexico. Honesty about the state of the country of Mexico doesn't help book a return stay. Being reminded that your one week stay is equal to the annual salary of the guy who bussed your table is bad for business.
Have you been to the USA? The richest country in the world? Poverty is rampant there.

The majority of Mexicans do not experience "crippling poverty" just like majority of Americans don't.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:14 PM   #47
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The only all-inclusive I've been to was one of the higher-end ones in the Mayan Riviera. I'd rate its food as Boston Pizza/Chili's/Montana's level. But really, what do you expect when you're looking at buffets serving hundreds of people? The a la carte restaurants weren't really any better food-wise either, they just had a nicer atmosphere.
Which higher end resort?
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:18 PM   #48
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These all-inclusive resorts as all give and take. The beaches are the best in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and they are probably the safest (Cuba being the most safe), but the food is straight thrash and generally there aren't direct flights from Calgary so you have to waste a day in Toronto. Mexico generally has the nicest resort complexes and the best food, but it's getting sketchy from a safety perspective and the beaches outside of the Mayan Riviera are hit and miss (even Mayan is hit and miss now with their sea weed problem). I think most people have taken Jamaica off their list altogether because of safety reason. Barbados/Turks & Caicos/St. Lucia are generally the best, but they are significantly more money so I don't even know if you group them with the others. Might as well go to Hawaii for the money you pay to go there.

To me, what it comes down to his how good of resort you can get for the lowest price and the best travel schedule. Get the nicest resort you can with a direct flight for the lowest price. Experience will be the same no matter where you go, just make sure you go up one star from what you are accustom to staying in North America. You do 4 stars in NA, make sure you do 5 at the all-inclusive.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:19 PM   #49
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Which higher end resort?
Grand Sirenis.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:21 PM   #50
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These all-inclusive resorts as all give and take. The beaches are the best in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and they are probably the safest (Cuba being the most safe), but the food is straight thrash and generally there aren't direct flights from Calgary so you have to waste a day in Toronto. Mexico generally has the nicest resort complexes and the best food, but it's getting sketchy from a safety perspective and the beaches outside of the Mayan Riviera are hit and miss (even Mayan is hit and miss now with their sea weed problem). I think most people have taken Jamaica off their list altogether because of safety reason. Barbados/Turks & Caicos/St. Lucia are generally the best, but they are significantly more money so I don't even know if you group them with the others. Might as well go to Hawaii for the money you pay to go there.

To me, what it comes down to his how good of resort you can get for the lowest price and the best travel schedule. Get the nicest resort you can with a direct flight for the lowest price. Experience will be the same no matter where you go.
You can definitely find resorts with food that is of much better quality than others.

But you are right in that watching for deals is the best way as they always come along. We went to a very nice resort in Dominican last year and paid about $1000 less than what it normally cost by watching for a deal (we also booked very far in advance). Place was amazing and had great food.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:21 PM   #51
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Yeah I went about 4 years ago with my girlfriend because it was a bucket list item for her but we both agreed afterwards that it just felt wrong and depressing.
Yup. I did that with my wife and I actually was miserable the whole night afterwards. Will never do it again, but would never point fingers at someone else for giving it a go.

Worse than the dolphins, is the lion cubs you can hold. When I came home and read about how you could never hold a lion cub unless it was heavily sedated, I actually had tears in my eyes and sulked for a week about what I had done and how this "charity" I was donating to to hold the cub was a common tourist trap.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:25 PM   #52
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Yup, the food at All-inclusives are mediocre at best, and that includes even the fanciest 5 stars. The only exception i've had to that was the Excellence Chain (I i've stayed At the Excellence Riviera Maya and Excellence Playa Mejueres). These guys don't even run a supper Buffet. Food was quite good at the restaurants, but if you go there thinking you are going to be eating at Vintage Chop House every night you are going to be very disappointed.

I always get a kick about the people complaining about the food. You are paying between 3K and 6K for a week at an ocean front property for two people. That's not a lot of money. Properties are amazing, but not sure why people think they are going to be fed like they are Nobu in Vegas.

I also get a kick of the people on the resort that tell you all day how great the food is. They've either never ate a good restaurant or are straight lying. The food is mediocre, it's as simple as that. Never understood people who refuse to say anything remotely negative about their vacation experiences. It's almost like they have to paint this perfect picture for you.
I generally dont complain much about food because my expectation levels of buffet food in all-inclusives is not high.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:27 PM   #53
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Grand Sirenis.
Personally I would say that is mid range at best. (Ranked 12th and 14th out of 23 Resorts in Akumal for the 2 resorts). Now I haven't done any research on those 2 because I haven't stayed in the Mayan for quite some time (That I have planned). But on a high level look I would expect mid level food for those resorts as you kind of described.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:27 PM   #54
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You can definitely find resorts with food that is of much better quality than others.

But you are right in that watching for deals is the best way as they always come along. We went to a very nice resort in Dominican last year and paid about $1000 less than what it normally cost by watching for a deal (we also booked very far in advance). Place was amazing and had great food.
I'm not a picky eater. I generally don't have problems with the food anywhere. So long as I can get some sort of grilled protein (Chicken, steak, seafood) with a good selections of sides and deserts, i'm not going to complain. I just like to let people know who are going there who have never been before, that just because you are staying at what is a 5 star resort in the Carribean, doesn't mean you'll be eating at places like Ceasars Steakhouse every night.

I actually think the best restaurants at these places are the ones that try to stay true to the local culture. Like someone else had mentioned, they have become far too Americanized, and they simply don't have the experience or ingredients to be able to send out comparable dishes to 5 star american restaurants. Actual Mexican food though, they can hit it out of the park sometimes. Unfortunately, some resorts only have authentic good 1 night of the 7 you stay there.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:31 PM   #55
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I'm not a picky eater. I generally don't have problems with the food anywhere. So long as I can get some sort of grilled protein (Chicken, steak, seafood) with a good selections of sides and deserts, i'm not going to complain. I just like to let people know who are going there who have never been before, that just because you are staying at what is a 5 star resort in the Carribean, doesn't mean you'll be eating at places like Ceasars Steakhouse every night.

I actually think the best restaurants at these places are the ones that try to stay true to the local culture. Like someone else had mentioned, they have become far too Americanized, and they simply don't have the experience or ingredients to be able to send out comparable dishes to 5 star american restaurants. Actual Mexican food though, they can hit it out of the park sometimes. Unfortunately, some resorts only have authentic good 1 night of the 7 you stay there.
For sure. A year and a bit ago we went to Cancun with some of my Fiance's friends and her and I and couple others went into "real" Cancun for dinner a few times. Was amazing. Was nice to talk to a couple locals at the marina when we did this catamaran trip and they wrote down a few restaurants for us that we went to. Way better than the RIU we stayed at!
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:33 PM   #56
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I generally dont complain much about food because my expectation levels of buffet food in all-inclusives is not high.
Mine as well, but the over-exaggeration of how good the food is by some people is a bit ridiculous. For example, you constantly hear people say how they've ate the lobster every night and it was just so good. Nope, it's not. It's a small rock lobster that doesn't even have claws which is the best meat. Warm water lobster is chewy and gross compared to cold water lobster from Maine/Maritimes that we are used to up here that we pay $20/pound for.

Doesn't bother me that it's subpar lobster, because like you said, my expectations or low, but I always have a good chuckle to myself when someone from Edmonton is sitting at the pool next to me telling me they had the best meal of their life last night.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:36 PM   #57
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Here are my thoughts on the three places in Mexico I have been:

Cancun - we went there about 12 years ago. I liked it, we were able to walk to the shopping malls so it gave us something to do in the evenings. Our hotel was also across the road from bubba gump, margaritaville and outback steak house. So when we got tired of the free food, we would go across the street. Also watched a flames game there. The beach was the best at this resort. This resort also had the most drunken kids, but for the most part the hotel was quiet at night, so it did not care. We did several excursions out of here and it was all booked thru the hotel. Food was decent for Mexico. Can't recall the name of th place we stayed, but it was a chain in Mexico

Mayan riviera - this time we went with the kids. Beach was not great compared to cancun. Resort was big, but I could not convince the wife to go to playa, so I felt the vacation was boring. Food was not as good as Cancun. We stayed at a grand Bahai something or other

Puerto Vallarta - other than the fact it was warm and we had access to a pool and free drinks, where we stayed was blah. To many guys on the beach selling stuff (why yes seņor I'll will buy your chicken on a stick from you despite the fact it has been in the sun all day). Food at our resort was terrible with the exception of the breakfast omelettes - fantastic. I assume this was a case of we should have paid more for a hotel.

If I was to ever go back to Mexico, I would go to cancun
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:38 PM   #58
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Mine as well, but the over-exaggeration of how good the food is by some people is a bit ridiculous. For example, you constantly hear people say how they've ate the lobster every night and it was just so good. Nope, it's not. It's a small rock lobster that doesn't even have claws which is the best meat. Warm water lobster is chewy and gross compared to cold water lobster from Maine/Maritimes that we are used to up here that we pay $20/pound for.

Doesn't bother me that it's subpar lobster, because like you said, my expectations or low, but I always have a good chuckle to myself when someone from Edmonton is sitting at the pool next to me telling me they had the best meal of their life last night.
I see what you're saying, yeah for me if I want a really good meal I do my research and my wife and I go off resort. Beyond that its just sustenance, cheap food to soak up the cheap booze.

I dont go to All-Inclusive resorts to be immersed in another culture and explore a new country, I go to get the hell away from my own. They're like an Oasis that serves margaritas.

Again, I differentiate between 'Travel' and 'Vacation.'

All-Inclusives are a Vacation.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:46 PM   #59
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Spot on comment. His portrayal of Mexico is quite ignorant, and a typical soap box comment from someone wanting to white knight on a discussion forum.

My buddy actually worked at a couple of the resorts down in Playa Del Carmen, and made a reasonable living doing so. Working at the resort also gave him the opportunity to learn English and move to other properties throughout the company which is how he ended up in Canada.

Did he make a fortune working at the resorts down there, nope. That said, he had an apartment, owned a car, and has disposable income. He actually gets quite offended when people find out he worked at those resorts and ask him about getting paid a couple dollars a day. His general response is that you must have a problem with going to Banff or Lake Louise then, because the service industry workers there get treated no different than the ones at these resorts in Mexico. Like most Mexicans i've met, my buddy is extremely proud and always encourages people to visit his home. In fact, the last time I was there he insisted I leave the resort to go have dinner with his family (all of whom are working class down there) and their house. Was the house up to Canadian standards, definitely not. Were they on the brink of poverty? Nope. Just very happy and proud people.

And even if Mexico was just this impoverished wasteland built to cater to North American tourists, what would not going do other than take much needed jobs away from the local economy?

If there is a reason to not go to Mexico, it's the crime and cartels. I've been there about 15 times and I see it getting worse and worse. Tourist areas were completely off limits before, but that has definitely changed over the past couple of years. Never worried me before, but now it's starting to make me second guess going there. We've spent a lot of time in Cabo and that area is especially bad now which is a shame because it's a beautiful area and the people are super hospitable. There was even a shooting in the lobby of the resort we generally stay at.
I went to Cabo earlier this year, and the police/military have definitely cracked down there. There were battleships in the bay and you'd see soldiers in automatic weapons driving by every half hour or so on patrol.

My biggest problem with Cabo is that it's becoming like Las Vegas. The downtown is filed with crazy American clubs and seedy strip bars. It had a pretty good balance of Mexican and fun clubs even 3 years ago, but it's gotten out of control within the last couple of years.

That being said, there is quite a bit of real Mexican culture there. I went on a walking taco tour while I was there and had some pretty amazing tacos. We went to a family run tortilla factory as part of the tour. If you want a break from Mexican, for about $60 you can get a very high quality surf and turf at a restaurant along the dock.

I even noticed the quality of the resort food within the resorts had gotten better. More a la carte options. Higher quality food too. For example the resort I was in had an authentic taco restaurant and made to order Italian style pizza, both of which were top notch. I guess it's the good and bad of development.

It's less "Mexican" in some ways, but the quality of things has improved. You can always find the authentic Mexican outside of the tourist areas. We actually spent two nights in the "old town" for a change. After 5 days of the resort that was a pretty welcome change.
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Old 08-08-2017, 04:52 PM   #60
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If you are someone who likes drinking, I think it's imperative you stay at a 5-star and maybe even upgrade a level for like $30-$50 bucks a night so you can get their "Premium alcohol". There you can get some Captain Morgan, Kettel Vodka, Crown Royal, etc. Otherwise you'll be drinking bottom of the barrel Mexican garbage that is equivalent to our well shots at a bar. It's fine for a day or two, but if you are drinking that #### for week, you are going be hungover as #### and have the most wicked case of heartburn after a couple days that you have ever felt.
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