I always travel like a millionaire – as in getting to and from a place – but I don’t always “vacation” like a millionaire. I’m perfectly fine with staying in a barebones eco-bungalow on the beach, or taking a rough and tumble road trip through the countryside and finding a B&B for the night. Because I live with a millionaire mentality, I always have a grand time.

But this month I did something I’ve never done before – go to an all-inclusive hotel on the Caribbean, specifically, Dreams Tulum. Now, that might sound expensive, and I wasn’t sure it was going to be my style. But let me tell you, it was an experience that made me feel like a millionaire. The best part is it didn’t cost a million.

This all-inclusive experience cost me less than staying in an eco-bungalow with only one bed, no bathroom and no meals.

 
 

Service, Service, Service

What is vacationing like a millionaire? To me, it’s about service. Being waited on. Having anything and everything at my beck and call and not even considering the cost. This is what happens at a good all-inclusive resort.

Whilst I checked in I was offered a glass of champagne. I was taken to a sumptuous room with a fully stocked minibar (remember this is all inclusive, so no prohibitive prices) and 24-hour room service. A fluffy robe and slippers on the bed. Lovely toiletries in the bathroom.

The World of Gastronomy with No Check or Tipping

Dreams had excellent food in an array of different dining options. Beach bar with burgers, a variety of restaurants: French, Italian, Japanese, seafood. A cafe I dropped into several times a day for tea and lattes. A smoothie bar.

In short, anything I wanted, whenever I wanted it. If that’s not a cliché of a millionaire lifestyle, I don’t know what is.

No Charge for Activities

For activity options – yoga, Zumba, aqua aerobics – or the option to do absolutely nothing and have drinks brought to me by attentive waiters who knew when to leave me alone. Different pools to choose from, and a glorious beach set up with chaise lounges and fluffy towels at the asking. Wine, beer and tequila tastings. Evening shows or lectures. Dancing all night or early to bed.

How Much Did This Really Cost?

The eco bungalow sans bathroom was $149 per night with no meals (not even breakfast) or services. My luxurious double room at Dreams Tulum was $200 a night, everything included. If you go with a friend, that means it costs you each $100 per night – for total luxury experience with not a care in the world. To me, this is a bargain.

It’s all About the Timing

Go in the low season. There are deals. There are tremendous low seasons when the hotels want to fill up their rooms to keep staff employed. As I said, my room cost $200 a night, a few days later, entering high season, it jumped to $600 a night.

Do Your Homework

Talk to the reservations agents, really talk. Ask for discounts. Find out the low season rates. Prices change all the time. Be flexible with your dates. Try calling the hotel directly, because sometimes they can offer reductions that reservations agents at the 800 number can’t. Get on the mailing list for promotions.

Ask for a Room Upgrade When You Check In

Be nice! I asked and I was upgraded, free of charge, from a deluxe double room, to a deluxe junior suite with a living room.

Lock your Wallet in Your Room Safe and Be the Queen

What made me feel like a million was not pulling out my wallet for four days. I could have anything I wanted, whenever I wanted it and never once asked for a check, or searched for a tip for the waiter. Having a piña colada brought to me on the beach is my idea of a millionaire lifestyle.

Repeat Customers Are Rewarded

Become a frequent flyer – at the hotel. I learned from talking to the hotel personnel that the more you stay at a property or with a chain, the more they will extend special pricing, discounts and courtesies. They will call you with offers. The success of the hospitality industry is based on repeat business. They want you back and will reward you for it.

I do like a variety of different vacation experiences, such as train travel, cruising, road trips, roughing it, visiting friends. But lying on a beach for a few days and being treated like a queen was exactly what I needed. I will now happily add all-inclusive hotels to my list of vacation options.

Have you ever stayed at an all-inclusive hotel? What was your experience like? What kind of vacation makes you feel like a millionaire? We can’t wait to read about your travel experiences o join the conversation.

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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