While All Inclusive resorts are a great fit for many people I wanted to share some things you may want to know about what is typically included and what typically is an additional charge for your all inclusive resort. So the term “all inclusive” gets thrown around a lot but here are what you may not know.
Think of “all inclusive” meaning that from the time you arrive at the resort all of your basic needs will be covered, such as all meals, beverages and many activities. Here is a list of what you generally can expect to be included:
Dining – Dining options will greatly vary from resort to resort. For some it may mean there is one buffet offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner while for other other it may mean they have 25 restaurants for you to choose from. However, it’s standard for there to be at least a couple of included options for each meal of the day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Beverages – This is a big selling point for many all inclusive resorts, the appeal of not having to spend $10-15 every time you want to enjoy a fruity beverage by the pool. Most resorts offer a great selection of non alcoholic beverages like water, soda, coffee and juices in addition to beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Room Service- This may be a surcharge at some resorts but for the most part, I find it to be included. It could also depend on the room category booked and it may only be offered for select hours but definitely check with your Dream Planner prior to travel.
Non Motorized water activities – Most resorts offer a variety of water activities such as snorkeling, hobie cats, kayaks, paddle boards etc.
Entertainment – Whether you plan to wake up early for yoga on the beach, spend the day playing beach volleyball, hitting the tennis courts, or taking in a nightly show, there are usually lots of activities offered as part of your all inclusive package.
What is typically NOT included:
Transfers – while some companies like Sandals and Beaches do include the transfers between the airport and the hotel, some do not. Also important to note, that even with Sandals and Beaches, the people at the airport and drivers of the transfers are not hotel employees so a tip is customary.
Top Shelf Beverages – This will greatly vary by resort and even sometimes by what room category you have booked. If having name brand or top shelf liquor is important to you, definitely check with your travel agent before booking to see if your beverages of choice are included or will cost you additional. This is typically not an issue, and will really only affect people that are very particular about what they want to drink. If you are just wanting a margarita and don’t care what brand of tequila is used, then you will be fine. I do want to add that many resorts have a specialty wine menu too that they may offer at dinner that will come with an added charge. If it’s not clear, be sure to ask your server before you order.
Specialty dining – Although your meals are covered with an all inclusive package, you may want to splurge to celebrate something special such as an anniversary or a birthday. There may be options to add specialty dining like a romantic candle light dinner on the beach or to upgrade your menu to a special menu like a surf and turf dinner. Again the price and availability of these options will vary by resort, if you are looking for this type of experience be sure to let your travel agent know before travel so it can be arranged for you.
Spa Treatments – Most resorts do not include spa treatments with their all inclusive package. However, there are a few that offer significant discounts on them, like Unico 87’20’ in the Riviera Maya where guests only pay 20% of the standard cost of a spa treatment.
Excursions – For many guests, a highlight to their vacation is getting out of the resort to really see the destination. Having excursions booked is a great way to have some fun and experience the culture whether that’s touring a local city, ziplining, hiking through the rainforest or riding ATVs. There are lots of options to find something that suits your interests. Your travel agent should be able to offer you the top attractions for your destination and arrange that for you prior to travel so you don’t miss out on having it sold out when you arrive.
Tips – Another thing that will greatly vary by resort. For some companies like Sandals and Beaches resorts, tipping is against the rules, but for other brands it’s acceptable. Know before you travel, so you are prepared. Also, while your resort may not allow it, if you plan to do any excursions, your drivers or tour operators will gladly accept tips. There maybe other exceptions too such as spa therapists and butlers.
Insurance – I feel like this should be obvious but to not assume, I thought it might be a good idea to add this as “not included”. There are all kinds of travel insurance policies out there, so be sure to get one that covers you. If possible, I like to get one that is a cancel for any reason policy and includes pre existing conditions. But at the very least, you want a plan that will cover you during travel for unexpected medical emergencies and trip delays. No one ever plans to need travel insurance, but that’s just it, it’s peace of mind for the things not anticipated.
While I think all inclusive resorts are a great way to vacation, they are not a one size fits all. They each have their own style and personality and its important to find that one that fits what you are looking to get out of your vacation. I would love to help you find that perfect match for your next vacation!
About me: I have been working as a travel agent since 2010 and have lots of first hand experience visiting more than 15 islands throughout the Caribbean. My ideal day is spent enjoying a buffet breakfast with cofee and a mimosa, spending some time on the water in a kayak, paddle board or hobie cat, soaking up the sun for a few hours on the beach overlooking the turquoise waters before heading to the pool for volleyball or refresh with a cool beverage, end the afternoon with a walk on the beach with a sunset view. Head to the room to freshen up for dinner and then enjoy a little evening entertainment.