This column usually explores the cheapest and best deals we can find each week at all-inclusive resorts, and there are some really good reasons why so many of them are in Mexico. It’s been a great bargain for as long as mass tourism has been popular there, mostly because land and labor costs are far lower than they are on Caribbean islands, but there’s now more to it.
Why Mexico is such a good deal
It’s so secret that the best beach resort deals are in Mexico as well as Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Those larger islands have much more available land, and much larger populations for workers to be found, so they can keep offering lower prices and still pay fair wages. If a beach gets popular, they can keep expanding nearby, where as the smaller islands tend to have a small number of small beaches, so often all the available land is already taken.
It’s also much cheaper to ship food and other supplies to Mexico and larger islands. For example, they make high quality beds in Mexico, so a new resort can buy hundreds of them from a factory store, but they don’t make beds on St. Lucia, so they have to pay a lot more to have them shipped from Mexico, nearly doubling the price. The savings are passed on to visitors, so resorts are higher quality with lower prices in larger countries.
The safety of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico
Sadly, Mexico has an image problem, and it’s mostly unfair. There has been violence between drug gangs and sometimes police officers, but almost all of it has been near the border. There have also been 2 or 3 incidents where someone in town for the day from a cruise ship has been roughed up in Mazatlan or Acapulco, and some people put these incidents together, fearing that going to Mexico means putting your life at risk.
But here’s the thing about all-inclusive resorts, when we visit them, we usually land at a nearby airport and are met by resort staff who put us in a comfortable shuttle bus to the hotel. Once inside (and past security if there is even the slightest need), we usually stay the entire time until our flight home. That’s the whole idea of an all-inclusive resort, that all your food and activities are included on the grounds. The fact that some people are scared to fly into Mexico means that hotels are charging $20 or $30 per day less to help fill up rooms.
Even the resort cities are safe
If you are very fearful of the problems, then just book into a nice all-inclusive resort in Cancun or Cabo San Lucas (there have been no problems within hundreds of miles of either place) and you’ll be fine. If you haven’t spent much time in foreign countries you could be excused for not realizing that avoiding trouble is at least as easy as avoiding trouble at home.
For example, if you visited a resort in Puerto Vallarta, you will almost certainly be staying in the main hotel zone, which looks like Miami Beach and is even safer. Even if you did want to take a walking tour if the old city center, doing it during the day would mean you’d be surrounded by literally hundreds of people every moment. If you wanted to do a walking tour at 3am, then it’s a different story, so don’t do it.
It’s sad that Mexico has an image problem, but if you are smart enough to realize it’s only a problem of perception, then you will save a lot of money and help Mexicans keep their jobs as well. We all win except the stupid people.