In theory, an all-inclusive resort seems way too good to be true.
Except the thing is…they actually are that good.
If you can’t decide between Eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles, you can just get both. If you want to finally try a Sidecar or Roy Rob, or any number of bizarre cocktails you’d never normally risk money on, you can go for it. Not sure if you’re going to like catamaraning? No problem – give it a try, and if you don’t like it you can always paddle back to shore and lay on the beach instead.
Get a glimpse of what is included in an all-inclusive stay in this video about Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica.
So exactly what is an all-inclusive vacation?
An all-inclusive vacation is where you pay one amount upfront and then don’t have to pay for anything (or most things) on-site after you arrive at your hotel. In addition to your hotel, sometimes your initial package price will also include your flight, and sometimes it will include your flight and airport transfers.
Exactly what is included?
By and large, most all-inclusive resorts are going to offer basically the same things.
– Your room (obviously)
– Unlimited food
– Unlimited drinks
– Kid’s clubs and activities
– Scheduled entertainment
– Access to things like on-site fitness centers, clubs, and bars
– Land activities (like tennis and beach volleyball)
– Water sports (like snorkeling and sailing)
– Taxes and services
What’s the catch?
Not a lot. Keep in mind that like anything else, there are exceptions to the rule.
So what’s NOT included? It varies from hotel to hotel, but you’ll normally find some combination of the following:
– Food. Some resorts may make you pay an upcharge on certain items, like say if you want a lobster for breakfast, and others may not offer room service.
Drinks. Some resorts may charge for certain drinks, like bottles of their very best wine.
Activities. There are normally some activities you’ll need to pay extra for – spa treatments for example, or scuba driving.
Random add-ons. Gifts at the gift shop. Laundry service. Doctor visits. Things like that.
And that’s pretty much it. If you’re not sure, ask, but for the most part you can go to town and be secure in the knowledge that you’re not looking at any additional costs.
Here’s a tip…
Here’s where a lot of resorts vary. Some expect that you’ll still be tipping your bellboy, maid, and servers, while others specifically ask that you don’t. Make sure you ask before you go to avoid any misunderstandings.
Who are all-inclusive vacations for?
There are scores of different all-inclusive resorts out there, for just about every different type of traveler.
What: Looking for romance? There are a ton of couples-only resorts where you can be pretty much assured your romantic sunset beach walk won’t be ruined by a bachelorette party or screaming toddler.
Where: Secrets Resorts & Spas in the Caribbean and Mexico are one of the best known all-inclusive brands for couples with romantic dinners, beachfront locations, and attentive staff; its sister brand, Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts, celebrates the Art of Life® with endless privileges and enrichment activities, like wine tastings, cigar making, breathing sessions, and more. (Zoetry Resorts do welcome children, but they are serene getaways, tailored to couples for a serene atmosphere.)
Why: Not having to calculate the cost of that second glass of champagne means you can have a romantic vacation with none of the stress.
What: Want to steer clear of kids, but also don’t want to be surrounded by love-struck honeymooners? At an adults-only resort, you can hang out at the bar and dance at the club without being overrun by crowds of children or hand-holding couples.
Where: Resorts like Breathless and Excellence are chic, luxurious, and perfect for very grownup getaways. Breathless Punta Cana was recently named one of the Dominican Republic’s sexist resorts and has themed pool parties.
Why: Organized activities give guests the chance to mingle, and on-site bars and nightclubs let you cut loose without having to keep track of whose round it is.
What: Want to take the kids on vacation without having to worry about racking up tons of extra costs? Most family-friendly all-inclusive resorts have more to keep the kids busy than they could ever do in one trip…including childcare for when you need a break.
Where: Resorts like Beaches Resorts and Dreams Resorts & Spas welcome and even celebrate children. Beaches Ocho Rios has been voted among the Top 10 Best Beach Resorts by Parents magazine and offers spa, golf, and waterpark entertainment. Dreams Resorts is great for couples with children, where there are activities for families and for adults with adults-only sections, like restaurants and pools.
Why: Kids’ clubs, water parks, game rooms, and daycare will keep kids of all ages entertained, so you can lounge by the pool bar or hit the fitness center.
And that’s your all-inclusive primer! Ready for the next step? Check out some of our favorite resorts on the