The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of a High End All-Inclusive

I have made fun of all-inclusive’s in previous blog posts.  However , it has been years since we have experienced one and people tell me I haven’t tried a high end version.  So the opportunity came as we just  finished a 5 week stay in Mexico.  The flights on a Saturday were exorbitant;  so we booked two days at the Hyatt Ziva, aall inclusive high end all inclusive in Puerto Vallarta using some credit card points, so we could fly home on a Monday.

 

Check In and the Room

We started out well with free parking.   When we checked in, we were offered wrist bands for our room…for an extra $10 each.   After refusing the usual sales pitch for a new time share presentation,  we made a couple of restaurant reservations and settled in our modest little hotel room.  Having just come from a suite at Vidanta with an enormous living area and it’s huge balcony,   it was a little bit sad to have only a window, but at least we did have a very nice ocean view.

All Inclusive Italian Experience

We were hoping that a higher end all inclusive would be different, but my stereotype of an  all inclusive experience started at dinner.   We had a choice of Mexican buffet (oh heck no),  a steak restaurant, an Asian and Italian.  We chose Italian.   Looking at the wine list, all were listed as bottles with $40 to $50 price tags.  I asked if there were wines included, since all drinks, including top shelf liquors, were supposedly included.  Oh… well…,  he said,  there is a merlot and  a cabernet by the glass that was included, but not on the menu. No white wines. So we ordered the very sad merlot and the bruschetta.  While we waited, they brought some nice warm bread.  Which was good,  because when the bruschetta came, it was rock hard …and cold. Not edible.  Good golly.  The main meal was pretty OK with lasagna for Linda and meatballs for me.  A little weird that the meatballs did not come with pasta, but since it was all inclusive, no problem adding the pasta.   We finished with a very respectable tiramisu and a very sad gelato.

All Inclusive Bar

At the bar that evening, it was interesting that the “top shelf liquors”  did not include a single brand name tequila.   But many were available and prominently displayed for $15 to $50 per shot.  There were also no brand name mezcals for the cocktails, but the house brand was actually not bad.  Several male patrons in their early forties fulfilled my all inclusive expectations by having two or three  doubles teed up at once.  It was early so they weren’t not really obnoxious… yet. 

One other issue with the drinks.  Every restaurant and bar in the entire resort had exactly the same list of included foo foo cocktails, with “top shelf” liquors.  You would think there could have been a little effort at creating cocktails appropriate for an Italian, Asian, Mexican or Steak restaurant. 

The Wedding

We had noticed a wedding on the beach that afternoon.  About 8 PM the music on the beach right outside our room started with a thundering, pulsing beat, so we were bouncing!   We were really glad we didn’t have kids to put to sleep.  It did end early shortly after 10, so really not a problem.

Breakfast

With no coffee machine in the room we went in search of morning coffee.   There was a deli with a Starbucks style long line offering decent expresso drinks with – hey! – no upcharge.  We know better than to do a breakfast buffet, so we found the one restaurant with an a la carte breakfast and …  it was very good .  Score one for Hyatt Ziva

Lunch / Snack

Actually, the lunch menu at the sports bar was also ok.  Linda got a good pulled pork sandwich and I got respectable street tacos.  However, there were only two beers on tap.  Tecate (which I suspect is an alternative Spanish word for water) and a local amber that was light but decent.  No Modelo.  No Corona. No Dos Equis.  What?

Asian Dinner

The Asian restaurant has nice wines and Saki on the menu.  All for a dramatic add on price.  I asked if , perchance, there was a house Saki that was included in the “all Inclusive” .  Don’t be silly.  However ,  there were actually a couple of house white wines, as well as reds and they were better than the sad merlot from the previous night.

The dinner was our first really good experience at the Hyatt Ziva.  We ordered a thai salad and the seafood gyozas for appetizers.  The waiter added the veggie spring rolls without being asked, because we said they were really good.  And they were.  As were the gyozas.  The thai salad was dull and not really thai, but two out of three is pretty good.   We couldn’t decide on entrees, so he brought three smaller servings of curry fish, chicken tikka masala, and pad thai. OK, score one for the all inclusive model.  Get what you want and you can try different things.   All were very good  and we didn’t have to decide!!  Dessert was just ok, but then, I confess I am not ever a huge fan of Asian desserts.  

All Inclusive Conclusion

So… if we had been with another couple as we were at Vidanta , we would have had two separate, small hotel rooms for a total of $1000 per night.  $7000 for 7 nights.  And that is if we were able to resist the continuous pressure to upgrade our experiences. It would be very easy to spend far more.

In the Luxxe, you would have two separate bedrooms, a large living and kitchen and huge deck for under $4000.   That leaves $3000 or well over $200 per day per couple to spend on much higher quality food and drink.  

I know some people love the convenience and lack of thinking at an all inclusive.  Totally fine.  We can still be friends.  But, for my money, all inclusives , even at the World of Hyatt level are still a sad alternative.  I wrote a tongue in cheek humorous post a while back called 5 reasons to never do an all-inclusive.  Reasons include: Obesity, Poverty, Claustrophobia, Cultural Incompetence and Liver Damage.  😊

And here is another article by a blogger called tourism teacher adding even more reasons.

So there you have it.  It’s time to book your Vidanta Vacation Now

 

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Your description of your all-inclusive experience is exactly how I would have described mine last fall. We just got back from one week at NV. We stayed at the Grand Luxxe with another couple. Although our Vidanta food experience wasn’t super, it was so much better than the all-inclusive. For us, though, once the other couple who vacationed with us had the pleasure of dining at Eddy’s, it was our go-to dining destination. The beach walk back to Vidanta was welcome exercise after our terrific meals. We had a fantastic week!

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