Yes. No. It depends.
by Regina Bell
All-inclusive resorts. You’ve heard about them, seen the Sandals ads and love the thought of paying one fee and leaving your wallet behind. Days in the sun snorkeling, lazing on the white beaches and swimming up to the bar. No hassle with tips, dinner bills or ski rentals.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Actually, it can be an amazing vacation and all that you dreamed about . . . if you know where to look for the good deals and have a clear idea of what you want and what you can live without.
First step: search online. I just Googled the words “all-inclusive resort,” and there were 6,400,000 responses. So I went with “best all-inclusive resorts for 2020,” hoping to narrow it down a bit. No chance: 151,000,000 results.
Yep, there are millions (literally) of posts, blogs, articles and ads about all-inclusives.
Well, let me give you a bit of info and a piece of advice.
All-inclusives — as their name suggests — offer a room rate that generally includes meals, drinks and some entertainment. But what is really being offered in that rate, and a world of extra amenities, can vary dramatically.
What it comes down to is you. What is your dream vacation? What doesn’t interest you? How much are you willing to spend? What do you want to do there? When can you go?
Let’s talk money:
Happily, there is an all-inclusive for every budget. Boutique resorts give you your own butler and have casinos, Vegas-style shows and waterside bars. But if you don’t care about swimming with dolphins and just want to bake at the beach with your favorite book, you can find a great deal on a getaway.
Who you’re traveling with:
If you’re bringing your family, there are resorts with kid-friendly buffets, beach movies, babysitting, sandcastle competitions, theme parks, tours and kids-only dance clubs.
But there are also resorts that are partially or exclusively adults-only for a blissfully different experience. And, with these resorts, events, entertainment and atmosphere can vary dramatically, so you can tailor the perfect place to spend your vacation.
If you’re traveling with your kids, you are most likely traveling when school is out for spring break, summer or a holiday. This is Peak Season and, of course, is the most expensive.
As does where:
The best values for an all-inclusive vacation are in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The culture, arts, food and entertainment vary, as do the amenities. But if you’re willing to spend more, there are amazing spots all over the world that are tailor-made to your dream vacation. The possibilities, literally, are endless.
Quite often people envision snorkeling, swim-up bars and a vivid nightlife when they think of all-inclusives. Yep, there are absolutely beach chairs, umbrella drinks and kayaking. But have you considered these offerings as well?
- secret coves, caves and cenotes (those breathtaking hidden pools)
- culinary demos with Michelin star chefs and 5-course dinners
- vegan, vegetarian and ethnic culinary specialties
- elegant romantic hideaways
- eco resorts
- health and wellness getaways
And now the advice . . .
There are so many choices, deals for the finding and amazing experiences . . . all waiting for you to discover them. I don’t know about you, but I find it absolutely overwhelming.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to talk to a travel advisor. If you find the right one, she or he can offer:
- first-hand experience with a range of all-inclusives (if she hasn’t gone, she knows someone who has)
- behind-the-scenes contacts to get you amazing deals you won’t find online
- knowledge of the best places to go and the ones that aren’t worth the money or the discount
- help with bundling your vacation and your travel for an even better price
- beginning to end support
Keep this in mind: it doesn’t cost a dime to work with a travel advisor. They are paid by the travel companies, the all-inclusives and the cruise lines. It is in their best interest to put your best interest first. The most outstanding travel advisors will go out of their way to make your vacation exactly what you hoped it would be.
Take Susan Becks, here at Footsteps World Travel, for instance:
- She helps you find the all-inclusive that is the perfect fit for you.
- Because Sue and her family have enjoyed so many themselves (and not enjoyed a few), she can share valuable advice.
- She’ll help you find the best rates at the resort and as you travel there.
- Got a problem when you’re there? Sue will work it out. She’s available from the first planning stages until you return home (and then she wants to know how it went).
All-inclusive resorts are both daunting and completely wonderful. It all depends on your planning, a clear idea of what will make you happy and the help of a great travel advisor. With all those in play, it won’t be long before you are soaking in a hot springs geyser or stretched on a beach chair with a best-selling novel and the perfect summer drink.
All it takes is a Footstep.
Click on the links below for some extra advice on picking an all-inclusive and packing:
How to Pick the Right Mexican All-Inclusive Resort by Olivia Salmonese
The Ultimate Resort Style Guide by KMH Consulting
All-Inclusive Dos and Don’ts by Greg Johnson at clubthrifty.com
First Footstep: contact Susan or Laura Becks with Footsteps World Travel to help you plan your all-inclusive vacation: