The all-inclusive concept has been a favorite since its inception over half a century ago. The idea of a pre-packaged vacation deal that allow you to just switch off knowing that everything is paid for is universally appealing.
However, the basic concept of ’all-inclusive’ has taken on a range of meanings as many hotel chains enter the market catering to different demographics. Here are some basic things that you should be clear about before you decide where and when to spend your holiday time and hard-earned money.
- Food – The same cuisine every day of your vacation can be a terrible experience. Find out what dining options are offered – are there Continental, Chinese, Indian and Mediterranean dishes or restaurants available? It makes a huge difference if you love your food and/or have fussy eaters. Some all-inclusives offer only buffets in all their dining establishments whereas others may have a la carte menus served by a waiter. You may have private seating or have to dine with many others at huge tables. Room service may or may not be included. You have to eat three times every day – with which would you be most comfortable?
- Drink – You will be hard pressed to find an all-inclusive that does not offer an unlimited flow of water, soft drinks, beer, cocktails and liquor. However, the difference becomes apparent when top-shelf liquor is involved. The majority of all-inclusive do not include the best brands in this line-up; they will be available for additional charge.
- Rooms – We all know that not every room in the hotel is going to look like the suite from the website and brochures. Find out the size of your room, the size of the beds, whether the minibar cost is included and what the view is like. Is there free internet access? Another factor is the location of the room – do you really want to spend 15 minutes walking back and forth between the pool and your room when you forget your sunglasses or sunscreen?
- Activities and Entertainment – ’Activities included!’ screams the brochure. Unfortunately, there is always fine print. The vast majority of all-inlcusives do not factor motorized watersports, spa treatments and premium activities into the basic package. This means you can snorkel, paddle board and surf to your heart’s content but jet skiing, parasailing and scuba diving will cost extra; you can lounge by the pool and in the hot tub but you must pay for that hot stone massage; the mini golf, volleyball and tennis are free but the horse riding is not. If you have kids, it would be great if babysitting services are provided, and if there is a teens club available so you can all have some time to yourselves.
- Other guests – One of the most common complaints post-vacation is how inconsiderate or unusual or terrible other vacationers were. Save yourself the stares from couples looking for private time who were just splashed by your dive-bombing kids. If you are looking for couples time, it is best to avoid resorts where little kids will gape curiously at your canoodling.