Since honeymoon/summer vacation planning is in full swing, I get a large number of requests for “all-inclusive” vacations. From clients asking about Disney and Hawaii to cruises and the Caribbean, it seems that everyone wants the best bang for their buck–and all-inclusive vacations are at the top of most people’s “must have” list. The problem is that there are a number of ways people define this concept. For example, you can add a meal plan on to your Walt Disney World reservation (as long as you have park tickets and stay at a WDW resort), but you will still need to shell out cash for beverages, gratuities, extra snacks, etc. This, in my humble opinion, is not the epitome of “all-inclusive.” In fact, there are no true all-incluvisve resort options currently in the US or any US territory (there are rumors about a Dreams coming to Puerto Rico soon, though).
So, what defines this concept? Let’s look at 10 aspects that make all-inclusive resorts stand out from other vacations. A true all-inclusive experience will offer:
unlimited all-day dining, including snacks and a la carte restaurants
- unlimited alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks (some resorts may have a surcharge for bottles of wine/champagne or top shelf liquor)
- at the minimum a few non-motorized water sports (snorkeling equipment, kayaks, catamarans, water trikes, paddle boards, etc)
- gratuities, taxes, and fees included in the cost of the room (some resorts even have a strict no-tipping policy)
- nightly shows and entertainment
- access to the in-room mini bar (usually restocked daily for no additional fee)
- chairs, loungers, and towels at the pool and beach
- complimentary wifi (some resorts will include it in-rooms; others will include it in common areas)
- pool and beach wait service
- access to sister properties, if applicable
Although cruises are wonderful vacation options, they are not the same as all-inclusive resorts as most cruise fares do not include beverages (unless a beverage package is purchased), gratuities (these can be added on later), transfers, specialty dining, complimentary wifi, or access to water sports at port.
Some people prefer the all-inclusive experience while others would rather venture off into their destination to sample local fares and flavors. Regardless of which category you fall into, be sure to know exactly what you are getting so you aren’t disappointed when you arrive–like knowing the difference between ocean view, oceanfront, beach view, and beachfront…but this is a post for another time.