Is An All Inclusive Resort Right For You?
By G. Allen
Destinations such as Aruba, Cancun, St. Thomas, and
Bahamas have an infrastructure that is well suited to all-inclusive
and not all inclusive resorts because there is a wide election of restaurants
and amenities for tourism. Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on the
other hand don't have the tourism infrastructure in place and are best
suited for all inclusive vacations.
You'll want to consider carefully before choosing an
all inclusive resort. Resorts do vary -- some are designed for couples,
some for singles, some for gays and some for families. Some cater to
a younger or older crowd. There are also some that offer clothing-optional
activities. For obvious reasons, most of those don't allow children
The resorts come in all shapes and sizes. Some include
airfare and hotel. Some include airfare, hotel, transfers, and some
meals. Others include all meals and activities, but not airfare. Often,
purchasing airfare as part of the package can be a better deal than
doing so separately, unless you are using frequent flier miles.
Many all inclusives have, as part of their program,
child-care facilities that are often a resort-within-the-resort for
children, a "day camp" that is special and that kids look forward to
attending. And many all-inclusive resorts give incredible price breaks
to children (they don't drink liquor, after all,) while some even have
no charge for children up to 17 sharing their parents' room.
What are the advantages of all-inclusive vacation resorts?
The security of knowing that one price covers everything,
with none of those nasty surprises that can blast a hole in any family's
travel budget. All meals, entertainment, activities and sports, as well
as airfare and accommodations, are generally included in one price.
You can forget your worries about carrying lots of extra cash for expenses,
and just sit back and enjoy your vacation.
Who should check out an all inclusive?
Travelers who are: on a tight budget, traveling with
the kids, receiving the trip as a wedding gifts or getting married on
So, is an all inclusive resort right for you?
If you are the type of traveler that enjoys sampling
all of the local fare, then spending all of your time at an all-inclusive
resort is probably not for you. If you like to go somewhere just to
relax and not worry about taking out your wallet every couple of hours
to pay for food, drinks, or activities, then there's probably an all-inclusive
resort that's just right for you.
If you like to stay up all night partying and drinking,
if you want to take advantage of all the included watersports and activities,
if you want to have food and snacks available all day and if you don't
want to have to worry about the final bill when you check out, an all-inclusive
is definitely a viable option. Some resorts even boast 24-hour room
All-inclusive resorts can be costly. On the other hand,
they can also provide great value. If you are going to a destination
where the cost of meals, snacks, liquor and activities are expensive,
and your hotel or resort is high-quality with an expensive nightly rate,
an all inclusive might end up saving you money.
If, on the other hand, you don't drink much, you enjoy
lazing on the beach and getting an early nights sleep, you are dieting
and choose simple salads for your meals, you would probably be overspending
for an all-inclusive resort. Bear in mind the drinks are only the cheap
local which are not very strong.
On the down side of all-inclusive vacations, some folks
get a bit weary of dining in the same restaurant night after night.
The resort rooms may be smaller than standard hotel rooms. Some, not
all of the all-inclusive resorts provide shows. And some of them have
different show every night.
Some resorts have kids clubs for the little ones. Kids
clubs begin at any hotel at 4 years of age. Nannies or babysitters are
extra costs not included in the all-inclusive package. Almost all the
allinclusives have activities from beach volleyball to bingo and other
It's a good idea if you want a cashless vacation in
a secured environment, if you are satisfied that the dining options
offered will be suitable for your tastes, if you take advantage of the
watersports, child-care and bars.
If you are adventurous and want to spend your days exploring
the country you are visiting and your evenings trying in-town dining
options, you would be better off choosing a resort that offers that
kind of flexibility instead of an all inclusive.
What is usually included in all inclusive vacation package?
All meals and drinks, beer, wine, premium liquor and
tipping, government taxes, gratuities, entertainment, activities and
sports, as well as airfare and accommodations, are generally included
in one price.
Airfare and hotel transfers are optional when buying
all inclusive package. Tipping is not allowed. One benefit of the all-inclusive
resort is that the single up-front price covers unlimited activities.
Phone calls and items purchased at the gift shop are
included. The more expensive all-inclusive resorts is going to have
the nice sit-down restaurants. The next step down will have all buffet
Tennis and squash courts may be free and often night-lit
courts at no charge, but bring your rackets, as you'll probably have
to pay to rent them. Most packages do not include golfing fees. In most
cases you have to rent a golf cart, but compared to the price of play
on most courses, that cost is negligible.
Sailing craft are free as often as not. Snorkels, masks
and fins are usually free, but may have a time limit (note: bring masks
from home if you can, keeping in mind that the one-size-fits-all variety
is often useless on little faces, leaving kids to snorkel miserably
with a face-full of salt water).
On-property snorkeling is free, but the most interesting
underwater sights are usually somewhere else. The latter will cost you,
if not for the snorkeling itself, then for the transportation to get
there and back.
With motorized sports costs can climb upwards of $60
an hour. Parasailing is another costly venture. Divers, too, might find
an all-inclusive cost-effective. Tanks have to be paid for separately,
but diving excursions are included in some of these resorts.
If you are not certified, most resorts offer a "resort
certification" which will allow you to go on closely supervised guided
dives. A resort certification is a great introduction to the sport.
If, however, you are already a certified diver, some resorts, such as
Sandals, Beaches, and Gala Resorts, offer one or two tank dives a day
in their all-inclusive packages.
Many all inclusive resorts offer spa treatments as part
of their packages, with the option of paying for more intensive therapies.
Do not forget to budget extra cash for some excursions
that weren't included in all inclusive package. A swim with the dolphins,
for example, runs about $100 per person -- more than small change if
you're traveling with a family of four.
Consider carefully these additional factors before purchasing
an all inclusive vacation package.
Price is often relative to quality. If it seems too
good to be true, it probably is. However, sometimes it's possible to
get an amazing and legitimate deal, as long as you're looking in the
right places - Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations, TNT Vacations and
numerous smaller wholesalers.
Look for deals. Check websites for details. Check to
see what's included in the price, so you don't incur any additional
costs that you're not prepared to pay for.
Organize any visas and travel insurance policies well
in advance. Your tour operator and travel agent should advise you on
all of these but you should also contact the embassy or consulate of
the country you are visiting for information about visas.
It is important that you speak with your doctor about
the necessary immunizations for the areas you are traveling to. When
you're traveling in Mexico, you must take extra care when it comes to
drinking water, or fresh beverages that may have tap water added to
Check ice also - ask if it was made with tap water -
it is unlikely that your ice will have been made with tap water; but
its worth asking in more rustic establishments and rural areas. Salads
can also be dangerous if they have been rinsed with tap water. The rule
is - if in doubt, ask first! All main hotels and good restaurants use
purified water throughout
In order to be eligible for special honeymoon offers
and discounts, it's wise to take a copy of your marriage certificate
with you as proof that you are on honeymoon.
If you are a single parent, or if your partner will
not be traveling with you and your children for whatever reason, you
must get a notarized letter from the absent parent, giving consent for
the child or children to be traveling with one parent absent.
If you are estranged from your partner, and you are
the legal guardian of your child/children, you can take a copy of the
court order (note: original only - no copies!) with you and this will
suffice to get your child or children with you.
If you are a widow or widower, you will need to write
a letter to explain this and get it, and a copy of the death certificate,
notarized and carry both of these documents with you when you travel.
If you are under 18 and want to travel without your
parents, you will need to carry with you a notarized letter of consent
signed by both parents.
If you are a lone parent or will be traveling with your
children but without your partner, or under 18 traveling alone, get
the required paperwork together before you leave. Airlines are now refusing
to board lone parents and children and children traveling unaccompanied
without this notarized letter of consent.
Many hotels in Mexico set age restrictions during spring
break. Here's an example of many hotel Spring Break policy:
Hotel will accept individual and student group bookings.
A refundable deposit of $200 per person and credit card
are required at time of check in.
Any credit cards used must be issued in guest's name.
Guests may be required to sign an agreement/list of
rules at check in.
At least one person per room must satisfy the minimum
age requirement for check in for individual student bookings.
At least one adult for every 20 students is required
for student group bookings.
If you or someone in your party is confined to a wheelchair,
you'll want to explore accessibility issues very carefully. Ask your
travel agent specific questions that may concern you.
Always have a way out. Ask about cancellation policies,
and look into travel insurance, especially if you are booking through
an online agency. Choose wisely and make sure the resort's amenities
and programs fit your lifestyle and character, and you'll have the time
of your life!
Here's some examples of deals:
Apple Vacations "Sizzlin
Specials" - and
Funjet Vacations "Hot
TNT Vacations "Special
More detailed information about over 400 all inclusive
hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico could be found at http://www.sunvacations.org
This all inclusive vacations directory, which consists
of 36 main sections arranged alphabetically by destination for quick
and easy access, consolidates all inclusive resort information not previously
available from any other single source.
Researched and compiled by a group of travel agents
with experience in the Mexico and Caribbean resorts, the directory offers
a quick shortcut to travel-related information on the Internet.
Each listing contains resort's web address, reviews,
and pictures, slide show, virtual tour, virtual map and resort rating.
For both seasoned and inexperienced Internet all-inclusive vacation
seekers, SunVacations.org will eliminate hours of search time.
Instead of conducting key word searches, users can simply
reference destination descriptions in the directory, and then go directly
to the all inclusive resort they want without having to sift through
information that is unrelated or unwanted.