Friday, March 29, 2019

Our All-Inclusive Vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Our family is normally the adventurous type; whether backpacking, road tripping or flying, we prefer to visit places that include a lot of activity and exploration. I should clarify that this is what Gary and I enjoy, not necessarily our kids, which led us to booking a trip that we had never considered: an all-inclusive trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The kids love food and playing in the waves as we learned on our Caribbean Cruise, therefore, this trip would ideally allow Gary and I to relax and the kids to have a blast keeping busy with all of the activities offered.

Many people have asked me if it was worth it. That is a tricky question. For us, a holiday is always worth it. However, we normally spend $5,000-10,000 each year on vacations so being that it was close to the $5,000 mark it worked well for us. I really struggle saying whether something is a great investment for someone else but I can say that for us, it was great!

The idea of not cooking or cleaning is the draw of all-inclusive resorts for many. For me, it was not having to plan and organize my family each day and they could just go wild swimming, eating and drinking. In reality, Gary and I did not have as much time together as we would have liked but overall it was as relaxing as it gets when going on vacation with three kids. In the evening, we felt safe leaving Kai in charge of the kids in the room and so that we could go for a walk on the beach.

Here are five things we enjoyed during our time at Crown Paradise Club in Puerto Vallarta: 
(*Not sponsored. This is a 4-star resort but would say it's closer to a 3-star)

1. Very family-friendly.

In fact, I wouldn't come to this resort unless I had kids. It was full of families which means if your kids are running around or overly loud, it doesn't matter. There were many families that had children with special needs and it is accessible too for the most part as there were multiple individuals in wheelchairs (not sure about getting in the pool or on the beach though). Some ramps were quite steep and Gary had to push a wheelchair up several of them. The staff was friendly and helpful at all times to us as adults as well as our kids.

The kids area is very safe in that Nya could touch in every area of it. This area caters towards children 2-10 years of age. Note that lifeguards are not in each pool.

2. Activities for the kids.

There is a Kids Club for ages 3-10ish (there is also a Baby Paradise Club available). Nya went for about one hour a day in order to do the cooking class, crafts and even a princess show in the evening entertainment. It was definitely a low-key Kids Club compared to the cruise that we were on previously.  There was a lot of spanish spoken rather than english which was trickier for Nya understanding the staff and also in trying to make friends. The staff put on contests at the pool each day such as Hot Potato, Kick the Soccer Ball etc. The activities for the boys were more limited. The Teen Club area (ages 8 and up) had video games and a pool table but only opened at 6 PM. They had some beach volleyball and water polo but there were not enough structured activities for my boys who are highly active.

Painting a souvenir. The cost is extra ($6-$12).

The evening show that Nya was in. She truly believed she was in a televised event and that she was famous.

3. Three different pools to hang out at.

There was the kid area, the warm pool and the beach pool. We would set out our towels in the morning in order to get the beach pool which was our favourite! The pools were the perfect temperature as I'm a bit of a wimp in cold water. This is going to make me sound old but I really wish they didn't crank the music all day long at the pool. It made it difficult to converse and relax.

4. Walks on the beach and playing in the waves.

The boys really loved playing in the waves and spent a good hour or two doing that each day. I loved going for walks in the morning while it wasn't too hot and then unwinding at the beach for sunset. I didn't feel comfortable enough to let them play there alone so we always supervised them. We definitely felt comfortable enough letting Kai (12) wander around the resort and letting Koen (10) go get a drink or ice cream on his own.

5. Food and drinks!

Unlimited food and drinks is a new experience for our family! We originally said they could eat and drink whatever they wanted but soon realized that the specialty drinks were very sugary and full of food dye–I had to limit it to several drinks per day for our sanity. The same went for ice cream as they were over indulging.

The kids loved the buffet and going to get drinks whenever they liked. The Snack Shack opened at noon where they could get fries, hot dogs and burgers. I was not feeling well the first two days of our trip which could've been food related and therefore I ate quite "safe" the entire time sticking to carbs. We ate at each restaurant (Japanese, French and Italian) once which you need to reserve the day before–these were lovely. 

Fried banana and icecream at the Japanese restaurant

The other nights we ate at the buffet which the whole family enjoyed but I found mediocre (why must everything be so sweet?). If you have allergies there were separate foods labeled gluten-free. There was definitely a wide variety of foods available, much more than I anticipated. One area for improvement is that there was only one hand sanitizing station that we noticed in the whole resort and that was in the buffet entrance. I wish that they had them at the Snack Shack and other locations as well.

The nice thing about the buffet is your kids can run around and you can wear whatever clothes you like (not bathing suits)
Headed to the French Restaurant

The clothing for the restaurants is "formal" but we didn't get very fancy.

I was wondering how much I would drink in regards to alcohol and the answer is very little. I normally have 1-2 drinks a week at home and rarely was I sitting around long enough to enjoy a drink. I also only got through 1.5 books and that is only because the flight was five hours each way. Those kids!

We had a wonderful vacation that was mostly relaxing and it was well worth it. Was it the "best vacation ever"? No, but I give it a solid 8/10 when taking into account the cost, distance (5 hours direct flight), food, entertainment, accommodations, safety, cleanliness and overall experience. It was fun to try something different and I'm very grateful that we were able to do a vacation like this. In case you were wondering, our top trip ever was our Caribbean Cruise but it was also twice the cost.

Have you done an all-inclusive? What else factors into how you would rate a trip?

What is an all-inclusive vacation with kids in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico like?

We booked our trip online and paid just under $6,000 for flights and hotel for 7 nights at the Crown Paradise Club. Note that the family rooms at this hotel face the road and construction so we had our air conditioning running all night to block out the sound. The kids slept in bunk beds with a trundle bed and we enjoyed our comfortable king-sized bed.


  1. Thanks for the review!!! We did a one-week cruise a few years ago, from LA to Puerto Vallarta (one day) and Cabo San Lucas (two days) and it was great. We'd love to do another cruise. We haven't really talked about all-inclusives but I know many friends who like them so it's great to hear your perspective. :)

    1. Thanks for reading! I think we like cruises more for change of scenery but this was definitely relaxing.

  2. Love that Gary helped push wheelchairs! Such a good guy.

  3. Enjoyed reading your review, Louise! I have only ever done all inclusive vacations, so can't compare with a cruise, but interesting to read you preferred the cruise. For some reason I feel like I would find the small rooms and being "trapped on a boat" a bit claustrophobic, but maybe one day I'll give it a try. Plus we have only ever done an all inclusive with kids as part of a retirement celebration for my father-in-law. (Usually we go just as a couple.) My kids were a little older than yours at the time, and they had their cousins so hang out with, which meant it was a little more down time for me. (It was actually at Crown Paradise Cancun.)

    My favourite part of the review was reading that Nya was sure she was in a televised event and therefore now famous!!! Oh bless her little heart! (She reminders me of Jorja at that age.) Makes me want to ask for her autograph next time I bump into you guys! ;)

    Also interesting to read about the wheelchair ramps, as this has been our experience also. They obviously don't have the same rules around the safety as we do here in Canada. My mom has taken my wheelchair bound dad on an all inclusive vacation and she always jokes she might let go of him by accident on the way down! Would be quite a ride straight down to the pool beach with how steep those things are!! ;)

    1. Yes, our room on our cruise was terrible BUT I love having new ports and places to explore! My kids also found there were more activities to do on the ship. I think had we gone with cousins to the resort it would've made it better. Still loved it though!
      Yes, the ramps are wildly steep!!