I'm a Professional Traveler Who's Always Avoided All-inclusives — This Waterfront Resort in Mexico Changed My Mind

At Paradisus Los Cabos, the Destination Inclusive program offers travelers off-the-beaten-path experiences — and it's all included.

In my 20 years of travel as an adult, I have never booked a vacation at an all-inclusive resort. They have certainly looked appealing – I love a pool overlooking the sea as much as the next person, as well as the ease of never signing a bar tab. But there was something ill-fitting about the perceived experience; too still and too confined for someone who takes pleasure in exploring.

Aerial view of resort in Cabo on the beach

Courtesy of Paradisus Los Cabos

So, when Paradisus Los Cabos, an all-inclusive resort by Melia set at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Sur, invited me to participate in their new Destination Inclusive program, I was intrigued. An off-site canyon hike, followed by a sound bath and yoga session under the stars, didn’t fit in the box I’d placed around all-inclusives. I would be happy to have my assumptions turned upside down, I decided.

Guests hike along a rocky cliff and gather for a yoga class

Chelsee Lowe/Travel + Leisure

I spent my first 24 hours at the resort enjoying the perks of The Reserve, the highest accommodation category at Paradisus Los Cabos (and the level that guests must book in order to enjoy the all-inclusive excursions). Guests of The Reserve have exclusive access to The Reserve Lounge, where you can get a cocktail (or Nespresso) anytime of day, plus snacks of all sorts. There’s an adults-only pool here as well, and La Palapa, a restaurant that quickly became my chosen place for chilaquiles, fresh juice, and French-press coffee, best enjoyed while keeping an eye out for whales in the Pacific Ocean.

On my second evening, it was time for the pièce de résistance. I loaded into a van with my travel companions for our excursion, driving into a nearby canyon at dusk. The setting sun turned the landscape golden, vistas pierced by the occasional cardon cactus and its bunched, wiggly branches. Upon parking, we walked a gravely path in search of a waterfall. The quiet of the canyon was disrupted only by our feet crunching the sand and the occasional tweet of a desert bird. Just 15 minutes in, we rounded a corner and the waterfall was revealed, along with teeny speckled frogs hopping about in puddles and pools. We scrambled up white rocks to get closer to the water and take photos.

People in a girgle around a fire for a sound bath in a canyon of Los Cabos

Lighuen Desanto/Courtesy of Paradisus Los Cabos

The sky was a dim blue by the time we returned to our starting point, where event guides had set up a dozen yoga mats around an unlit bonfire. Following our teacher, we flowed for about 30 minutes here. The steady hum of crickets was our soundtrack until singing bowls replaced them. We were now lying on our mats, the bonfire ablaze and blankets further protecting us from dropping, after-dark temperatures. Expertly played, the bowls warmed me in their own way, as I relaxed under their resonance and eased into the earth. Keeping your eyes closed is generally encouraged during a sound healing, but I couldn’t help but peek to see the bowl players gently dancing around us, even setting the instruments down on our torsos from time to time or holding them suspended above our bodies. The canyon walls only improved the acoustics, holding the ringing and vibrations close. 

A sound bath instructor uses a singing bowl at night

Chelsee Lowe/Travel + Leisure

While this excursion was the highlight of my trip, Paradisus Los Cabos is full of other surprises, too. A multi-course dinner at the adults-only, on-site Sal Steak Cave is a must (and included for The Reserve guests), and it’s a good idea to check out the afternoon snack cart by the pool every day to see what’s cooking. Tequila flows like water around the resort, so get a tasting on your itinerary. Down at the beach, a beautiful turquoise cove is a great place for a dip in the sea, and the Kanna Beach Bar makes a mean michelada. And with any luck, you can see endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles hatch from their shells; the resort protects the nests and guests are privy to turtle releases if the season is right. These squirmy creatures were the last thing I saw on my stay – can’t say I’ve ever had a cuter send off.

Melia’s new Destination Inclusive offerings vary from property to property. At the Paradisus locations in the Riviera Maya, excursions include a cenote visit guided by a Mexican shaman for a private meditation and yoga class. The Destination Inclusive offerings at Paradisus Los Cabos are available to guests who book upgraded Nikté suites or The Reserve suites, from $860 a night.

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