Many resorts call themselves all-inclusive, but after some research, you may discover the resort isn’t as “all-inclusive” as it appears. How do you determine what all-inclusive means when offerings vary so drastically? Below, we break down what all-inclusive resorts typically include and what to look for when choosing the right one for you.
What Does it Mean to Stay at an All-Inclusive Resort?
All-inclusive is a general term applied to a wide range of resorts that include several amenities in one package price. Unlike traditional hotels, all-inclusive resorts offer accommodations, food, drinks, activities, and entertainment for a per-person rate. One advantage of staying at an all-inclusive resort is that you pay for your entire vacation before you arrive, so you know exactly how much to budget for your trip (with some exceptions). All-inclusive resorts offer many amenities and activities, so you don’t need to leave the resort once you arrive. Since most meals and activities are included with your package price, you’ll get the most value from your trip if you stay on the property for most of your time at the destination.
All-inclusive resorts offer different inclusions that vary by brand. Below, we discuss these inclusions in detail and what you’ll need to look for to ensure your all-inclusive vacation is really all-inclusive.
Like a traditional hotel, all-inclusive resorts have various room layouts and styles. Depending on your chosen accommodation level, you may have access to upgraded perks like preferential seating at restaurants, luggage service, lounge access, and more. For example, Sandals® all-inclusive resorts offer a variety of accommodation categories, like club-level rooms and Butler suites. Butler suites include a specialty-trained butler who will arrange activities and serve you drinks and food by the beach or pool throughout your vacation.
When reviewing what your all-inclusive resort accommodation package includes, read the fine print to see if tips and taxes are included. Some resorts include gratuities in their package rates, while others recommend leaving a tip for the staff at the end of your stay.
When most people think about what an all-inclusive means, they usually associate the term with a resort that includes accommodations and most meals. For a resort to truly be all-inclusive, most food (at least three standard meals) should be included with your stay. Some budget all-inclusives may charge for food and drinks that aren’t during set meal times. Others may offer standard menu items at on-site restaurants but charge for upgraded entrees like lobster or steak. Higher-end all-inclusives will include all your food and snacks during your stay. Some even offer food 24 hours a day.
If your resort includes all your meals, you’ll want to consider whether food is included or unlimited. Some all-inclusives may restrict how many appetizers and entrees you can order during one meal, while others will offer unlimited dining.
Another reason you may choose to stay at an all-inclusive resort is that most drinks (including alcohol) are included in your vacation package. However, the types of included beverages can be drastically different, depending on the resort. Some may offer soft drinks and juices in their basic vacation packages, allowing you to upgrade to a premium alcohol package if you desire. Other all-inclusive resorts include beer, wine, and mixed drinks but charge for top-shelf liquors and champagne. Luxury all-inclusives will include all your drinks. Ensure you know what beverages your resort stay includes before ordering so you’re not left with a surprise bar tab at the end of your trip.
Activities & Entertainment
All-inclusive resorts mean that most activities and amenities are available on-site and included with your stay. Many resorts are situated on private beaches and have different types of pools. Most all-inclusive resorts will have a daily itinerary of activities, ranging from arts and crafts to pool volleyball tournaments. Your vacation package may include watersports like beach kayaking, water skiing, and even scuba diving. In contrast, others may charge for activities like parasailing. Family-friendly all-inclusives, like Beaches® Resorts, have a full range of activities and entertainment for kids featuring Sesame Street characters. Like a traditional resort, all-inclusives may feature volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts that are included with your stay. Most all-inclusives will also offer live entertainment and nightly festivities, whether it’s a beach bonfire, Broadway-style show, steel drum band, or family-friendly pool activities. Once you arrive at your resort, reviewing your daily itinerary will be the best way to ensure you take advantage of everything your resort offers.
All-inclusives have different policies regarding transportation to and from the local airport. Many all-inclusives are located on secluded, private stretches of pristine beaches, so they can be a bit of a drive from the nearest airport. Some all-inclusives may offer airport transfers with their vacation price, while others will help you arrange third-party transportation. In almost all cases, flights are not included in all-inclusive packages.
Typical Upgraded Extras
All-inclusive resorts provide many offerings, but there are a few things they typically don’t include. With a few exceptions, spa services are priced separately. Some resorts also charge green fees for golf courses. Premium restaurants and most off-site excursions are extra, as well.
All-Inclusive Vacation Planning Made Easy with Just Add Magic Travel®
With so many options available, picking the right all-inclusive resort for you can be challenging. We work with high-quality, reputable all-inclusives throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, so you never have to wonder what all-inclusive means. You’ll know you’re in for a fantastic vacation that has already been paid for, so you can enjoy relaxing and making memories. Whether you want to plan a family-friendly vacation, a couples getaway, or a friend’s trip, Just Add Magic Travel can help. Get a free quote for your vacation today!
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