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All Inclusives: Everything & Then Some

December 30, 2007
By PHYLLIS R. SIGAL Design Editor

Imagine lying on a beach chair, full moon above, waves lapping at your toes.


Imagine your glass never empty — whether with a mango freeze or a Corona or a banana daiquiri or a mojito or champagne or ginger ale. Delivered to you as you lounge under the afternoon sun.


Imagine walking into a French restaurant, ordering a five-course dinner with free-flowing wine and only dropping a $20 tip.


Imagine a room with a walk-in shower, whirlpool tub, an outdoor patio and a mini-fridge restocked daily with mini beers and bottles of juice  and water. 


Sweet Dreams.

Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa, on the Riviera Maya in Mexico to be exact — an all-inclusive experience.

If you’ve ever pondered the idea of an all-inclusive resort for a vacation, ponder no longer. Book it. Do it. Go. Enjoy. If you pick the right place, you’ll be the happiest vacationer alive.

The best part? You don’t have to go digging in your already thin pockets for more than a buck or two to tip the friendly waiters and bartenders. You’ve scrimped and saved for awhile to take this wonderful trip, and you’ve written the check or put it on your Visa. And you’re done.

It really puts you in the vacation frame of mind. No worries.

You don’t have to choose the chicken over the steak because it costs less. You can have that dessert and cappuccino without adding another $20 to your dinner bill. Oh, go ahead, order two appetizers instead of just splitting one like you usually do. You don’t have to over-order, but hey, you can if you want to, and it won’t cost you a peso more.

Making the right choice

The key, however, is to find the right all-inclusive for you.

And there are dozens to choose from, just along the Riviera Maya alone.

There are different rules for different resorts. Some require wristbands to be worn; some don’t. Some have upcharges and require reservations to eat at special restaurants; some don’t. Certain crowds go to certain resorts. Do you want to vacation with a young singles set? Or, are you more the family-resort type?

Do as much research as you can. Ask your travel agent. He or she can be extremely helpful in answering all your questions. Chances are the travel agent has been to many of the resorts or talked to clients who have been to others. It was Judy Lawhead at Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel in Wheeling who fit us with Dreams Tulum. I don’t think she could have made a better choice!

Over-the-top romance

At Dreams Tulum, a romantic beach dinner for two can be arranged for $180. It would be the perfect place to propose to your intended or to celebrate an anniversary or your honeymoon. White luminaria line the path to your private table for two. If you are lucky enough to arrange your dinner when the moon is full — as the couple we saw dining — it is even more romantic. Maybe they paid extra for that!

The four-course menu includes: Dreams of Love — a salad of organic greens and root vegetables with a Balsamic vinaigrette enriched with lobster; Foams of Love — lobster bisque; Sweetness and Passion — fresh-grilled lobster and tender beef medallions; Cup of Tender Desire — soft mousse of chocolate; and a bottle of champagne.

Article Photos

Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa is about as close to paradise as one can get! It’s located on the Riviera Maya, about 70 miles from Cancun in Mexico.
You may want to book a direct bus to the
resort from the airport, because with stops at other resorts, the trip can be as long as three hours. That, however, is the only downside of the resort — well, that and having to leave! However, while the resort is a trek from the airport, a benefit is that it is close to many of the ruins and other sights of interest.

How does one describe Paradise?

From the moment we arrived at our destination (arriving there was a bit of a nightmare ...), it was a dream come true.

Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa has so much to offer: 24-hour room service, five delicious restaurants, seven bars (including a swim-up bar), unlimited premium and domestic drinks; nightly entertainment and themed parties; windsurfing, ocean kayaking, sailing and snorkeling; daily activities; fitness center; a wedding chapel; Explorer’s Club for Kids; volleyball; bicycles; two swimming pools, a children’s pool and a cenote (a naturaly sinkhole); and tennis court. I’m sure there’s some I’ve left out.

There are certain offerings that guests can choose to pay an extra fee for, such as spa treatments, scuba diving and deep sea fishing trips. A wine list is available if you prefer other varieties than those offered by the glass at the restaurants and bars. At Portofino, the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, you can order lobster for an additional $30.

So much to do

You might just want to sit by the pool.

In fact that’s what I was doing one afternoon, when a couple of the activities coordinators took a seat on my lounge chair.

“Would you like to carve fruit?” they asked. I really just wanted to enjoy my new favorite drink — the mojito — and lie by the sapphire-colored pool. But they talked my husband and me into participating.

And what fun it was! There were 10 participants, with sharp knives and watermelons in front of us. (I’m not sure giving sharp knives to guests who have been drinking mojitos all day is such a great idea. ... )

The chef showed us how to make our watermelon into a donkey’s head. It’s always nice to go home from a vacation with a new skill! And, all 10 donkey heads, along with the chef’s, were displayed on the buffet in the World Cafe at that night’s dinner.

So if activities are your cup of tea, at Dreams Tulum you can check the activities board to see what’s on tap for the day.

You can take Spanish lessons or tennis lessons, play croquet or pool volleyball, take dance lessons, learn how to be a bartender, jump around in the pool under the guise of water aerobics (with a really cute guy leading the way!), participate in a dart tournament, go ocean kayaking or even carve a watermelon into a donkey head.

Besides the carving activity, we did go ocean kayaking. That was a lot of fun — maybe more fun than carving fruit!

If you feel the need to leave the resort ...

You may never want to leave the resort, not even for an afternoon, but if you do, there are lots of adventures awaiting you.

Because we were on an Apple Vacation, an Apple employee was available at the resort to help plan any number of excursions. 

The Mayan ruins are definitely an interesting site. There are several. We chose to visit the Tulum ruins because they were just about five miles from our resort. The resort had a bike tour there and back, but that took several hours. We took a taxi in the late afternoon. In fact our taxi driver, Moses, even made arrangements to come back and get us at a predetermined time.

The ruins of the Mayan walled city (Tulum actually means “wall”) date back to 564 A.D.

Other, bigger ruins can be toured, as well. The most well known is the Chichen Itza, chosen this year as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Other excursions include swimming with the dolphins,  snorkeling, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, jungle tours and dinner cruises. There are bars and discos, shopping and restaurants. You can visit COBA, the Mayan village, reminiscent of an “Indiana Jones” experience.

Or, you can sit back, relax and have the waiter bring you another   mango freeze or a Corona or a banana daiquiri or a mojito or champagne or ginger ale.


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