What’s included in an all-inclusive?

When you’re a cruiser who can’t cruise because the CDC refuses to allow it, what do you do? You find an all-inclusive resort on the beach that pampers you as much as your favorite cruise line would. We have found that in AMResorts’ Now Amber and Secrets in Puerto Vallarta. The two resorts share a property and compliment each other nicely. Now is a family friendly resort, and Secrets is adults only. We stayed at Now, but we got a comprehensive tour of both from one of their executive directors, Claudia. 

You might ask, “What does it mean if a resort is all-inclusive?” In the best all-inclusive resorts, it means that everything you would need and a plethora of things you don’t need are provided at no extra cost, not even tips. Once you’ve paid for your flight and your room, you can relax and enjoy and never take your credit card out again. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of things you can purchase if you want to splurge, such as souvenirs, spa time, massages, and excursions, but you certainly don’t need those to have a fabulous time.

Personalized Service:

Our hosts had warned us not to stop and talk to anyone until we were outside the terminal of the airport, and we soon found out why. We were accosted by dozens of high-pressure salespeople looking like government officials trying to gather information from us. We didn’t know why, but we did know we were told to ignore them, so on we went. Once outside, we met Jesus, who welcomed us to Puerto Vallarta and took us straight to our hotel. He explained that the people accosting us wanted us to take a free tour or have a free meal in exchange for hearing a timeshare spiel. Some people love going to a familiar place for vacation every year. We are not those people. We are always looking for the next place we want to visit, so owning a portion of a condo in Puerto Vallarta, or anywhere for that matter, is the opposite of what we dream of. We were thankful to have been warned.

Once we arrived at Now Amber, we were given champagne and met Ulysses, who told us all about our resort and its included amenities. Then he pulled out a map, pointed out some sites to see in and around Puerto Vallarta and some tours we may be interested in. Finally, he led us to our room and assured us that our bags would arrive shortly.  Once they did, we were off to explore the beach and pool to our heart’s content. If we were thirsty, we were rarely more than steps away from a bar that would serve us anything from bottled water to soft drinks to cocktails to shots. On the second floor of our particular building, we had a lounge that even served top-shelf liquors. Outside, if we were in the right location, drinks would even be delivered to our lounge chairs. Our preferred station was Alejandro’s. He would be there before our drinks were empty, and if we got in a rut of the same drink for too long, he would talk us into another creative concoction of some sort. There was even a coffee shop making our favorite hot drink, chai.  If we were hungry between meals, the buffet was open (served by staff), as well as the poolside grill. But for dinner, we had even more choices. 

Restaurants:

From six o’clock on, 7 of the 8 restaurants were open to us (due to Covid and reduced capacity, one restaurant at a time would be closed, but the next day it would open again).

Capers specializes in Italian food. We had seafood pasta that was a bit too fishy, but their Alfredo chicken was a surprising treat, served with a deliciously seasoned and breaded chicken breast fillet. Himatsu’s Asian Fusion could be served traditionally (on the floor), surrounded by a bamboo forest. Oceana and Castaways were both seafood restaurants overlooking the beach. The Jack Daniel’s shrimp was wonderful. Bordeaux is the French restaurant that specialized in French dishes like escargot and Boeuf Bourguignon. It also offers an optional upgrade to a special  meal in the wine cellar with the sommelier, including a wine pairing. And their crown jewel was Tamarindo the Mexican restaurant, with its fresh-made guacamole and Tajin rimmed margaritas. There is something about freshly prepared tortillas and tortilla chips that put an exclamation point on an already delicious Mexican dish — especially shrimp enchiladas! Finally, there’s 24 hour room service, also included for no charge (not even for delivery or tips).

Entertainment:

At this beautiful resort, there was never a shortage of things to do without charge.

We could take out the catamaran, kayaks, or paddle boards. We could play corn hole, tennis, ping-pong, beach volleyball, or life-size chess. We could take dance lessons. We could go to the gym and work off all those extra calories. We could swim in one of the many pools or relax in the hot tub. We could shop in the village shopping area. We could sit and talk in one of the many lobbies and lounges, near the pools, or on the beach in the shade. We could hang out in our hotel room binge watching to our heart’s content. We could relax in the jacuzzi on our own balcony. We could walk along the beach or swim in the warm water. We could watch the sunset over the beautiful Pacific. There were concerts and shows in the ampitheatre. And we spent one day walking into the beautiful town of Puerto Vallarta. But that’s a different story.

And for the kids:

The kids have plenty to do too, with or without you. When sitting on the beach with you becomes a little too stuffy, they can always go the Explorers’ Club, where they can play, safely supervised, inside and outside, to their hearts’ content. As long as you stay on the resort in case they need you, they can stay all day and even late into the evening, including breakfast lunch and dinner with their friends. They venture around the resort with their caretakers, playing in the kids pool and going down the water slide in inflatable tubes. There’s also a teen’s club, Corazón, filled with the two things they love: music and video games.

So… if you love all-inclusive resorts, you’ll love Now and Secrets. If you love cruising and are going through withdrawals, you need to try an all-inclusive. Whatever you do, don’t wait too long for your next vacation. Let’s get out there!

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