Staying at an all-inclusive resort sounds tempting. After all, they are typically advertised as coming with an endless array of activities, fruity cocktails flowing like water and meals that go on for days.
But, are all-inclusive resorts a deal? And are there some potential trade-offs to consider, even if it’s a good deal? We decided to unpack the latter to help you figure out if an all-inclusive resort is a good deal for you.
Here’s what you need to know.
As the saying goes, time is money, and planning a vacation can make you time-poor very quickly. However, booking an all-inclusive resort could save you the time of booking a hotel, activities and meals separately. With a vacation at an all-inclusive resort, these are handled for you.
With an all-inclusive resort, you’ll be able to see the rates up front, which may include taxes and tips for the staff. This way you won’t have to budget for hotels, food, and entertainment separately. Neither will you have to think about tipping your wait staff or the cleaning crew at the end of your vacation.
With an all-inclusive stay, you’ll likely never have to leave your resort for anything, which could save on transportation costs like a rental car, taxis or buses.
Note: if you’re the explorer type, then not leaving can also be a downside
Here’s one pro that doesn’t come with a con: All-inclusive resorts are changing for the better. While the original all-inclusive getaway was merely sitting by the beach, the meaning of all-inclusive really has leveled up. It now includes all-inclusive adventure getaways, family-friendly destinations, adults-only vacations, LGBTQ-specific all-inclusive trips, and more.
Though it may cost a bit more to get off the resort in a car (unless your resort has free shuttle service), by never leaving you may lose out on seeing and interacting with the local scene. And that, traveling friends, costs you dearly in life experiences.
You may lose the ability to save money because you’re not choosing your restaurants, your activities or your activity providers. For example, if you’re planning a getaway to the Bahamas and want to go snorkeling you may be stuck with the provider your all-inclusive resort works with, even if you’re able to purchase the same activity for a lower price through a different snorkeling group.
When calculating the cost of staying at a hotel vs. an all-inclusive resort at your intended destination, here’s some questions you might want to ask:
What’s actually included?
What’s the resort fee?
Are the specific activities I’m looking for included?
Are all meals and snacks included?
Are tips and taxes included in the price?
Are premium alcoholic beverages included (if alcohol is included at all)?
Are child services like daycare included?
Can I see the invoice for a night’s stay before I decide to book?
This way, you know exactly what you’re getting into and can decide if it’s cheaper to go a la carte for your vacation.
If you want to just lounge about and sit by the beach, an all-inclusive may be for you. However, if you’re interested in activities that aren’t part of the resort, which could include things like scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing or more, you might be looking at extra costs, so make sure to check the fine print of any all-inclusive resort to see what’s really included and what’s not.