Hey friends! Hope everyone had a great weekend. Today I'm sharing another travel tale from the most recent trip I took with my friend Gracie to Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico. And while I'll certainly recap where we stayed like I usually do, this post will be a bit different than my other travel guides because we stayed at an all-inclusive resort- which means we stayed put the entire trip. But first, a little back story on why this trip was pretty different for me.
I will always be the first person to jump at a chance to tell you why you should travel to places that you’ve never been. It actually breaks my heart in little pieces when I hear people say that they use their vacation days to go to the same beach every year and never mix it up. I suddenly discover a control-freak living inside of me who begins insisting that the world has so much more to offer that they're missing. I try to articulate the way my experiences from travel have given me more than anything I could ever buy at a store. I want everyone to share my passion about all the unique cultures to experience and stunning sights to see.
But a few weeks ago, I took a 4 day trip to the Hard-Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya. To be perfectly honest (which it's important to me that I always am about my experiences) choosing to go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico that offers all the comforts I have back home isn’t really my go-to holiday. 999 times out of 1,000, I’m wired to choose someplace that’s doesn't cater so much to American culture and encourages getting outside my comfort zone a bit more. I mean, I lived out of a suitcase while traveling through Europe for almost 5 months for crying out loud. It’s pretty safe to say I like to get out in the world and explore it.
So if all of this is true, why did I go to Mexico to feel like I could have been in America (minus the stunning beaches of course)?
Well, at the risk of sounding like I'm complaining (because I wouldn't trade my travel experience for literally anything in the world) I've been pretty exhausted lately. I only spent a few weeks home in Nashville after my 5 months abroad before I hit the road again for 6 weeks of traveling across the country in my car. That means I spent all but 6 weeks out of the last 9 months on the go. And while the experiences are incredible, every destination comes with countless hours of hard work behind the scenes (both in the lead up and after the trip is over). Not to mention, most days on the go are usually jam-packed with activities (meaning very little sleep).
But Mexico was very different. I didn't have to do any of the same work to plan out details like I'm usually doing. In the lead up, I wasn’t researching restaurants or popular things to do. When I got there, I didn’t have to leave the resort for anything. I didn’t have to use my brain to calculate cost of drinks or meals and stay within the parameters of a budget. Everything was taken care of already: meals, drinks, options for activities (even though all we did was eat, drink + relax beach side).
Long story short, sometimes what you actually need is a vacation where you can relax- and this trip was very much that for me. So rather than using this post to tell you tons of things you need to do, I'm simply going to share what made my few days here so restorative in case that's the position you find yourself in need of.
The Hard Rock has two properties in this area of Mexico: Cancun and Riviera Maya. To get a bit more peace and quiet, we opted for Riviera Maya - which is about an hour south from Cancun International Airport.
For starters, Hard Rock made getting to and from the airport a seamless process, arranging all of our transfers for us to ensure minimal waiting upon arrival and securing plenty of time prior to our departure. While you can arrange your own transfer if you wish I'd highly recommend sticking with the hotel transfer. Usually I'm all in favor of saving money and taking public transit if it's available, but in this case not only is it likely cheaper (starts at $26 USD per person one way or $51 USD per person round trip) it's also going to be safer. The moment you arrive at the airport arrival terminal you'll notice dozens and dozens of pre-arranged transfers, so you're definitely in good company. Eliminate worrying about how to get to your destination and sort this out in advance so you can begin relaxing the moment your airplane wheels touch down in Mexico.
Once we hopped in our transfer, we were checking into Heaven, the adults only portion of the resort property, just an hour later (and being an all inclusive resort, this means we went through the process with welcome champagne in hand). The bellmen will help you take your bags up to the room, and you'll suddenly ask yourself "Do I tip?" The answer is that all employees on the property are already paid full wage without requiring tips- however, they are still greatly appreciated if you come in contact with someone who you really like (which we found to be the case with every employee we came in contact with!)
We checked into our room, to which we learned we had a refrigerator stocked with alcohol- all of which is already paid for! We quickly put on our bathing suits and went to the beach to begin relaxing- with a cocktail in hand. After a few hours of sun, we were ready for lunch so we went to Toro- which ended up being our go-to restaurant for most of the trip. They have an amazing breakfast buffet every morning with fresh juices, made-to-order omelettes, bacon, eggs-- everything! They even have passionfruit- which felt like such an exotic treat since those little guys cost me $5 each back in Nashville (that is, if I can even find them). We ended up eating all but 2 meals here because it was so good and also so convenient to the location of our room. The staff went above and beyond to ensure that dietary restrictions were taken care of and that we had everything we needed. They also have both indoor and outdoor seating that offers (in my opinion) the best views of the beach on property.
In terms of other dining (although we didn't do much of it besides Toro!) we loved Le Petit Cochon, which offers French fare and outdoor patio seating. The food here was also great- but then again my friend Gracie and I both agreed the food at Hard Rock Riviera Maya was better than the all-inclusive resorts we've been to in the past. That's likely because of the Fresh Fix program (which offers fresh + healthy options) that was implemented by Chef Karla Hernández- who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
There were several other restaurants available that we didn't try- largely because of how much we enjoyed Toro and Le Petit Cochon. Nevertheless, if you were to stay longer than a few days and wanted to mix it up it's nice to know there are so many options to try.
Dinner view from TORO
The highlight of our trip was no doubt having these over-water Balinese beds to lay in (which area available for rent and are not already included in the price). While they will cost you a bit more, it was the epitome of relaxation (and comes with a waiter to bring you food + drinks).
While this pretty much sums up our trip (again- relaxation was top priority) that certainly doesn't include everything there is to experience at Hard-Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya. They have snorkeling equipment available to use. They have staff on site to help you plan any excursions (which I highly recommend Chichen Itza if you haven't already been! I went on my last trip to Mexico, but it's considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world). They have dozens of pools that are designed for different desires- whether you want peace and quiet or a party. They have shows and performances every night (and even a night club if you're into that). Long story short, there was way more to do at the property than we had time (or energy) for. So no matter if you're visiting to relax like we were, or for a jam-packed week of activities-- the Hard Rock aims to have you covered.
While this trip to Hard-Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya may not have been the most typical for me, I really did enjoy it. Not only was every single employee so accommodating, helpful and went above and beyond to ensure we had everything we needed, but the beaches in Mexico are simply stunning. Not to mention, it was so good for me to be still and rest with one of my best friends (while also enjoying being somewhere so beautiful).
Have you ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort? If so, let me know what you look for in a property in the comments below!
Thanks so much for stopping by and stay tuned for more adventures on the blog this week!
Thank you to Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya for hosting us and sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.