The decision depends on what you want to do and who you want to do it with. Different folks are attracted to different types of resorts, so if you want the best fit, choose wisely.
Location, Location, Location
In Mexico, if you want to party all night long you might prefer Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. If your perfect stay leans more towards relaxing, then you may want to move a little further south on The Mayan Riviera and away from the bigger towns. Even on the islands of the Caribbean, the closer you are to the cities, the more nightlife is available. Further out in the country you are dependent on the resort for most of your evening entertainment so your choices are more limited. Conversely, if you don’t want to hear partiers hooting and hollering until early in the morning you may prefer a farther out resort where folks aren’t returning from town at 4 AM.
Money is Everything
It’s just a fact of life that older people usually have more money than younger folks. More expensive resorts usually bring in an older crowd though that is not true across the board. Whenever we’ve stayed at a less-expensive place, we seem to have a much younger crowd overall. That doesn’t mean old folks don’t party too, but if your idea of the perfect stay is rest and relaxation, than you may want to go further out from the cities and stay at a nicer place. Out-of-the way locations tend to attract a more adventurous crowd who are out on excursions during the day and resting up at night.
Inclusive or Not
All-inclusive resorts offer a big bang for your buck. If you like to eat and drink a lot you will get more of your money’s worth than the couple who dines on fruit in the morning and doesn’t drink alcohol. These are also a mecca for partiers as drinks are included in the base-price. People who stay at all-inclusives tend to hang out more at the resort since they have already paid for all those meals and drinks. Tourists who are paying separately for meals tend to go out more, leaving the resort less crowded while folks are out and more relaxing for those who stayed.
Big resorts bring in big crowds. Depending on the season, the dining rooms will be full, the pools will be packed, and finding a beach chair, much less one with an umbrella will be next to impossible. People at big resorts often play the beach chair game, which consists of getting up early (Like 6 or 7 AM) and placing their towels and beach gear on chairs, then leaving them there unattended for hours just to reserve a spot. This is infuriating and rude and also usually against the resort rules, yet practiced widely everywhere. Smaller resorts tend to have enough chairs and even umbrellas for the smaller numbers of guests. If you want a crowd to party with, go big; otherwise, look into a smaller resort if you want peace and quiet.
This is a big trend in the resort business, especially in the Caribbean. Big chains like RUI, Sandals, and Barceló are now offering some adult-only resorts. Usually you must be 21 or over, so this means you won’t have kids splashing water into your Pina-Colada at the pool bar. You instead may have adults doing it, but that’s why you try to pick the right place.
This One is for the Kids
A lot of resorts and most all-inclusive resorts not only sometimes let kids stay and eat free, but offer plenty of free activities for young and old alike. Most offer free Hobe-cat sailing, Kayaks, maybe surf boards or many other non-motorized sports. If you pick a spot with a coral reef you won’t even have to pay to ride a boat somewhere for snorkeling. The bigger Resorts have Kid-Clubs, which is basically a free babysitter while you lounge on the beach, and have many more activities to keep the kids busy and you relaxed.