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What Travelers To Cancun Should Know About Resorts’ All-Inclusive Vs. European Plans 

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When visiting Cancun travelers have two equally great but very different options when booking a hotel stay, each with its own pros and cons.  Many tourists hear so much about all-inclusive resorts in Cancun that they may not even know that there is another option, but there is, and that is the European plan.  And we’re going to share a few things that Cancun travelers should know about resorts’ all-inclusive and European plans to help in deciding which is better for you. 

Resorts in the Cancun Hotel Zone with a wide stretch of white sand beach and aqua blue water.

There are more hotels offering all-inclusive plans than there are that don’t, so the options are nearly endless in regard to all-inclusive resorts.  All-inclusive in Cancun is on a whole other level than most places, particularly regarding amenities.  It is not uncommon to see gourmet restaurants, top-shelf liquor, a daily restocked mini fridge, and even 24-hour room service with an all-inclusive stay at a Cancun resort, so you definitely get what you pay for. 

Beach in Cancun Hotel Zone with people swimming in the water and resorts in the background.

That being said, there are a couple of what some might consider downsides to choosing to stay in an all-inclusive resort.  First of all, by spending more money on the resort cost and already having all meals paid for, there may not be any room in the budget to experience authentic Mexican dining.  Also, staying on a huge resort property that has basically everything needed for an entire stay may deter visitors from getting out and exploring Cancun and the rest of the Riviera Maya region.   

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Cancun Beachfront Resorts along a sandy beach.

Aside from these things that may or may not apply to you, though, there really is no reason to not go for an all-inclusive.  In the past, and maybe in other tourist destinations not as popular as Cancun, quality may come into play, but these days in Cancun there are some pretty amazing all-inclusives.  From dining options and entertainment to accommodations and amenities, some of these Cancun resorts have redefined what it means to be all-inclusive.   

Cancun Beach with people walking in the sand and resorts in the distance.

Resorts that offer European plans can be just as good as those that are all-inclusive, though, and obviously will typically cost a little less, depending on how luxurious the resort or hotel is.  This is because the European plan is essentially just another way of saying “room only, which means the guest pays for meals, activities, drinks, etc.  Depending on the hotel or resort the savings in nightly rate can quickly be eaten up by food and beverage costs. 

Cancun resort property with a sandy beach and beautiful turquoise water.

As an example, we’ll compare two similarly rated resorts, one all-inclusive and one that only offers a European-style stay, which simply means that it isn’t all-inclusive. 

Marriott Cancun Resort 

  • 8.8 Stars on 
  • Nothing Included 
  • Rate for 4 Nights January 7-11 – $1,386 

Royal Uno All-Inclusive Resort & Spa 

  • 8.9 Stars on 
  • Everything Included 
  • Rate for 4 Nights January 7-11 – $1,894 
Hotels and resorts in the Cancun Hotel Zone along a beautiful beach with crystal clear blue water.

As you can see there is a $508 difference in price between these two highly-rated resorts for a four-night stay.  If you break that down it comes out to $127 per day to spend on all of the things that would be included at an all-inclusive resort.  While it may seem like more than enough for food for the day, when you consider beverages, snacks, activities, and entertainment the costs do add up and things are more expensive in vacation destinations. 

Cancun Hotel Zone view with white sand beaches and aqua blue water.

What it all comes down to is what kind of experience you want to have.  If you would rather spend your time exploring the city and beyond, then maybe a European plan or resort that isn’t all-inclusive is right for you.  But if you’re looking for a hassle-free vacation that takes all of the guesswork out of planning then maybe an all-inclusive is more your style.  Whichever you choose, now, when you’re researching resorts, you’ll know exactly what they mean by a European plan vs. an all-inclusive.

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