All-inclusive vacation resorts, popular in the Caribbean and other hot destinations, can be a wonderful way to have an glorious, no-stress getaway. I’ve had my own time laying on the beach of Cartagena, sipping an unlimited supply of margaritas while taking tours and enjoying good food without having to constantly dig into my pocket for money or plastic. Done well it is glorious, but like any way to travel there are some pot holes that can jar your vacation out of fantasy land. Here are some things to consider when considering the all-inclusive vacation resort.
THE QUALITY OF THE RESORT – perhaps even more than a standard resort, you should do some google searches and check out your resort for reviews and past customer ratings.The quality of the food, hotel room, and especially customer service can vary widely. At a regular resort, if you find you don’t like the quality or selection of food, you can usually do elsewhere. If you are at an all-inclusive resort – you have already paid and are pretty much stuck with what you’ve got. Paying an all-inclusive fee for a place with poor food can put a big downer on the vacation.
WHAT DO YOU GET? – A typical all-inclusive package will include rooms, food, drinks and generally 1-3 local tours or attractions to the surrounding area. But what exactly are you getting? Sometimes there are limits to when and where you can eat or drink, many times these restrictions are reasonable, but sometimes the dinner hour is only 90 minutes long and if you are late you are on your own. Also, what are your tour and activity options. Do they seem to be something you would want to use? Be especially suspicious if the resort remains vague about their options. Good resorts will generally be quite happy to give you details. Resorts with poorer or overly expensive packages can tend to stay vague. Also, in most places tips to staff are included, but most places this is extra. be sure to ask what the tipping guidance might be.
WHAT DOES IT COST? – Sometimes an all-inclusive fee can be a budget saver, because the package deals are really that – deals. Most of the time, though, all-inclusive fees are a bit higher than you could do on your own. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because you are buying the convenience of having everything organized for you, and not having to keep pulling out Mr. AmEx. However, the costs can become VERY high, sometimes twice the price of what you would normally pay if you were on your own. Make sure the extra fees make sense, considering the dining, drink and activity options available.
In my case, I have always enjoyed my times at all-inclusive resorts, although some were definitely much better times than others. Do your homework, check out the resort, the offerings and the price. Then sit back on the beach and enjoy those margaritas!