The vast majority of all-inclusive resorts can be found in the Caribbean. There is one that just opened in Key Largo, and while there is another one in Florida that touts itself as an all-inclusive, it’s not a true AI resort. Despite its beautiful tropical location that seems perfect for an AI resort, there are none in Hawaii. There are also some all-inclusive resorts scattered around Europe.
White sand beaches, turquoise waters, mouth-watering food, and glorious sunshine. These are all hallmarks of Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya and the nearby resort city of Cancun on the Yucatán Peninsula. Unfortunately, one term that isn’t often associated with these locations is wheelchair accessibility. While Mexico has no laws comparable to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), more and more beachside hotels and all-inclusive resorts are recognizing the market demand of wheelchair users who want to enjoy the Mexican sunshine like everyone else.
In my capacity as an accessible travel agent, I traveled to Cancun and Playa del Carmen in late May 2018 to conduct site inspections of 10 all-inclusive resorts (five in each area). My inspections focused on the wheelchair accessibility of the designated guest rooms, public areas and restaurants, pool areas, and beach access.
AI resorts in Mexico will not guarantee accessible rooms until check-in. No one really knows why this is the case in Mexico, and it is extremely frustrating for wheelchair users who want to enjoy a lovely beach vacation in Mexico. As an accessible travel agent, I can contact a Mexican resort directly and make a firm request that an accessible room, if available, be assigned to you prior to check in. However, technically this is still a request, and despite all assurances they can choose not to honor it and wait until you check in to assign you that room. I have had much better luck with getting accessible room guarantees in other Caribbean locations with larger chains like Sandals and Beaches. It’s more expensive, but often the guarantee is worth it for many wheelchair travelers.
Despite the inconvenience of no accessible room guarantees, Mexico has the largest number of options for each wheelchair rentals, mobility equipment rentals, and accessible tours. If you are staying at an AI resort in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen, it is pretty easy to obtain accessible van transfers between the airport and your resort. These same companies also offer accessible tours to places like Mayan ruins and even dolphin encounters.