All-Inclusives: What they really mean
There are all-inclusives… and then there are resorts that offer amenities, and the differences in definition can vary drastically. Technically, for one set price an all-inclusive resort includes accommodations, three meals a day, drinks, gratuities, and possibly some specialty activities. Many also offer sports and other activities but the lessons may require an additional fee.
To avoid any unexpected shortfalls, go over the specific details with your travel agent before your departure. Airfare, car rental, champagne, spa services, excursions and green fees are typically billed separately, but the ease of not spending out of pocket for food and drinks daily still ensures the lowest impact on your budget.
Not just for singles
The concept behind all-inclusive resorts has largely evolved from the Club Med vacation packages that started a singles trend back in the 50s, but these days they’ve have expanded to include holiday-makers from all categories.
Some resorts are designed around specific vacation interests. Hedonism in Jamaica, Secrets in Cozumel, and Zoetry in Riviera Maya are just a few examples of adults-only, all-inclusive, while even more specialized properties accept couples only. Family-oriented all-inclusives, like the Beaches and Divi brands, offer childcare, kids clubs, crafts centers and waterparks, while others specialize in Destination Weddings, LGBT interests or corporate retreats.
Although you can find all-inclusives just about anywhere in the world, The Caribbean and other warm-climate regions seem to have perfected the art. The main thing to consider is that the idea behind an all-inclusive is that you might never wish to leave the premises for anything. So if sightseeing and escorted tours are your idea of the perfect vacation, all-inclusives may not be for you; but if you appreciate the ability to have free range on-premises without revisiting your wallet, you can’t beat the concept of total packaging.
Exactly What is included?
Meals: Depending on the price point, some all-inclusives provide meals that are only taken in the main buffet area. You may have to pay for eating in any of the resort's à la carte restaurants or in your room.
Drinks: Many all-inclusives restrict guests to locally branded alcoholic drinks, which means that imported beer, cocktails and top shelf wines and liquors have to be paid for. Last orders on the free drinks may be at midnight.
Activities: Excursions, motorized watersports, sports tuition and spa treatments more often than not cost extra at all-inclusive hotels, and they can add quite significantly to the overall holiday bill.
Childcare: All-inclusive terms usually cover participation in holiday clubs for older children. But terms may vary, and due to the higher staff-to-child ratios required for younger children (under the age of 4), customers often have to pay a fee.
Ask the right questions
Before finalizing your all-inclusive booking, make a checklist to review with your travel agent and be specific about your preferences.
- Airport transfers – does the package include transportation to and from airports?
- How many meals per day?
- Is there a limit on soft drinks?
- Is there a time-of-day limit on alcohol? Are some brands not included?
- How is alcohol replenished? By the glass, by the bottle or by wait staff.
- Does service end at a particular hour of the evening?
- Are snacks included? During which times of the day?
- What activities are included and what are the extra fees?
- Are gratuities included?
If you ask the right questions upfront, and design your stay the way you would like it to be, choosing an all-inclusive vacation can be the ideal way to guarantee rest and relaxation. With proper research and planning, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday with no extra charges when you check-out.