With so many all-inclusive hotel options to choose from in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, where everything needed is on one property, why would one choose to rent a condo?
There are undoubtedly several perks to having food, drinks and entertainment just outside your door. However, many people, when searching out the best deal for their beach getaway, don’t often consider the advantages of renting a vacation home. When daydreaming about a trip to the beach, common images that come to mind are those of palm trees, ocean views and cool blended cocktails. The last thing anyone wants to think of is cooking and cleaning while on vacation!
In our case, our family has enjoyed the best of both worlds. We have [over] indulged in the many convenient offerings at beautiful hotels all along the sublime Mexican Caribbean. As a group, our family has also gathered together throughout the years and had a blast at rented beach villas.
We’ve been around the all-inclusive block enough times to know exactly what to expect. To start the day it’s yoga or pool aerobics in the morning. If you’re not into the Spanish or ‘How To Make Guacamole’ classes, you can usually find a chair and park yourself around the pool for a day of sipping umbrella drinks and people watching. After a little liquid courage, perhaps you’re ready to participate in the afternoon dance contest with the animation crew. Then it’s tequila volleyball or naptime if you’re traveling with kids. If you’re someone who thrives on routine, you’ll appreciate the resorts that offer the same food day in and day out in the buffet restaurant or a la carte eateries. It’s an easy schedule for those who want to step away from the often-hectic pace of daily life.
If you’re like me and the allure of an all-inclusive beach vacation has worn off, a vacation rental may be just what you’re looking for. Here are 7 reasons to consider booking a condo over a large resort on your next vacation:
1) You get to experience the city from a local’s perspective
Many people have an issue forking out extra money for a nice dinner in town when they’ve already paid for a meal plan at their hotel. Who can fault them for their good money sense? Unfortunately, chances to eat authentic regional foods, chat with locals and learn interesting aspects of the culture are lost. By staying in a vacation rental, you have more opportunities for adventure. Grocery shopping alone can be an unforgettable adventure!
Some of our family’s best moments have come when we’ve set out for a walk around the city without knowing exactly where we were headed or what we were looking for. In this manner, we’ve stumbled upon hidden gems we would have never come across had we stayed in the confines of a resort.
While using common sense is always important, taking a detour from the overpopulated and overpriced tourist attractions can lead to some incredible finds like a charming restaurant tucked away on a little side street.
The community of Playa del Carmen, for example, is made of Mexican nationals from every state as well as expats from around the world. The vibrant fusion of multi-cultural residents has influenced Playa’s gastronomy scene in a profound way. Take a stroll off the resort and you’ll find an abounding assortment of restaurateurs presenting authentic cuisine from their respective countries. Nosh on tacos al pastor, handmade pastas, savory octopus salads, rich butter chicken, tender Argentinian flank steaks, fresh sushi rolls, or flaky French pastries - the options are endless! This kind of variety and quality can rarely be found in an all-inclusive hotel.
Walking or riding a bike around a small city like Playa del Carmen allows you to see it at your own speed, immerse yourself into the culture and stop at your leisure to capture incredible photos.
2) Separate spaces when vacationing with kids
We have three children and obviously, my husband and I want and need to stay close for security purposes. The benefit of a vacation rental is that the kids can have their own separate room, while we enjoy our own space. There is no need to turn the lights and TV off to allow them to fall asleep and we can still relish in the peace and quiet at the end of the day.
3) Save money on tours and souvenirs off the resort
While being able to book your tours and purchase handy crafts right at your hotel is convenient, you will save a bundle and find more selection to choose from off the resort.
There are an abundance of tour operators, artisan shops and galleries on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. The shopkeepers and tour sales people expect to bargain and are happy negotiate a fair price that you can both agree on.
4) You can still count on convenient services at a vacation rental
Although there may not be multiple bars and restaurants with dozens of wait staff at your beckon call, vacation rentals do offer services to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Companies like BRIC Vacation Rentals in Playa del Carmen provide mid-stay cleaning, unlimited bottled water delivery, a welcome basket of goodies and concierge services all included with your booking.
Experts in everything Playa, the concierge team is available 24/7 should you need recommendations for restaurants, entertainment or tours. These friendly ambassadors can also arrange for transportation, child minding, in-room massage, dry-cleaning and even grocery delivery so your kitchen is stocked with cold beer and pantry staples upon arrival.
Or why not have a private chef come to cook for you as you dine on your ocean view terrace? Despite the additional fees, these luxury services are more reasonable than you might expect. Furthermore, you have the added element of privacy, allowing you to take pleasure in these refined indulgences within your own intimate space.
The majority of properties in BRIC’s vast inventory of rentals, like The Elements, either have exclusive beach clubs with music, beverage and snack service, or are walking distance to the city’s most fantastic seaside eateries and beach bars.
5) Enjoy a relaxed home away from home feeling
If you’ve fallen in love with a particular destination and you end up returning annually, chances are you’ll get to meet people and possibly form some lasting friendships. If you choose to stay at an all-inclusive hotel, you are somewhat limited by the wristband. In order for friends to enter the hotel property, they are required to purchase an expensive day-pass, which provides either only daytime or nighttime access, not both.
A vacation home acts as a home away from home with the freedom to entertain and have guests over as often as you like. Friends or family can come over for a happy hour, sit by the pool and relax, or even spend the night, no costly bracelet needed.
Most rentals have convenient amenities like fully appointed kitchens, washers, dryers, satellite televisions and free Wi-Fi within the unit. And lets not forget the ample space! No suitcases and belongings strewn about the floor to trip over. Bags can be tucked away in the bedrooms leaving the margarita zone in the kitchen and relaxation area in the living room clutter free.
There are no set schedules for mealtimes and no dress codes. You don’t have to change and rush out in the morning to make it to the breakfast buffet; pajamas and bedhead are perfectly fine when you’re staying in your own comfy condo!
6) Vacation homes offer more peaceful settings
Recently we stayed at an all-inclusive in Cancun and received an unwelcomed wake-up call at 4 a.m. Lucky for us, an intoxicated couple chose the area right outside OUR door to argue. This of course can happen at a condo-resort as well, but it’s less likely. In most cases, the condo rental properties are often occupied by a combination of full-time residents and vacationers. Security is readily available to maintain the tranquil ambience of the property.
If you are not a fan of thumping techno music, you’ll appreciate the poolside serenity and quiet garden settings from your balcony. You won’t find your typical pool bars with free-flowing tequila and slurring guests come 3:00 in the afternoon. Vacation rentals present the ultimate atmosphere for relaxation and rejuvenation.
You can have the best of both worlds on your next beach vacation to Playa del Carmen. Savor a day or two of peace and dive into a good book. Then mix it up the next day by taking in the sights and sounds at a more lively location like the famous Mamitas Beach Club, Blue Parrot or Coralina Day Club.
7) Vacation rental homes are the best option when traveling in groups
If you are traveling with family or a group of friends, ideally you want to stay close together. A vacation home provides adequate space to accommodate everyone, while still allowing each member of the group his/her own privacy and room.
You don’t have to worry about the hotel restaurant being able to seat a large party; you can comfortably enjoy meals together in the communal kitchen. There is no hassle of searching the massive resort to find the rest of the group if you need to make plans. You can enjoy some cherished quality time together in an intimate environment, yet come and go as you please.
When young kids are involved, it’s nice to have the option to put the children to sleep and enjoy some adult-only time in the evenings. This is nearly impossible to do in a hotel unless you hire a babysitter.
If you’ve never considered renting a vacation home, it is worth your while to check out some excellent options. By choosing a vacation rental, will be able to explore and gain a true sense of the city’s nature and its culture. You’ll understand why the vacation rental industry is exploding. Today, more and more travelers are coming to understand that by venturing away from contained all-inclusive resorts, they are much more likely to experience richer and more memorable encounters.
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About the Author
Juanita grew up in a small town in the middle of Canada. Having experienced twenty years of ruggedly cold climate, she had seen enough snow to last her a lifetime. After moving to and working in Vancouver for thirteen years (where she was ecstatic to see the odd palm tree) she jumped at the opportunity to move with her husband and three children to Playa del Carmen. She calls it a ‘dreamy existence’ and cherishes year-round, backyard barbecues with friends, road trips and watching the sunrise over the Caribbean. She writes for Bric Vacation Rentals.