What Does All-Inclusive Mean? A Complete Guide
When heading on vacations you generally book your getaway and have to book everything you need, from flights to accommodation, to transport to entertainment. With an all-inclusive vacation, all that work is already included within the final price you’re paying, giving you back your precious time.
Going for an all-inclusive vacation means you’ll already have accommodation, food, liquors, and other drinks, activities, and entertainment sorted, and won’t have to pay any extra fees while on your trip. A true all-inclusive getaway takes away any unexpected expenses and shouldn’t have any last-minute extra costs. This allows you to head out on your holiday worry-free and not have an expensive unpredictable tab expense at the end.
Going on this type of vacation takes the experience to the next level and you’ll no longer be settling for the basics. Whether you’re headed to the Caribbean, Mexico, Cancun, Jamaica, or anywhere else, we’re here to fill you in on what your all-inclusive vacation will be like.
Are All All-Inclusive Resorts the Same?
Short answer: no. There are plenty of things that set each all-inclusive resort apart, but of course, due to their nature, they generally have many similarities. When looking into or booking your all-inclusive trip it’s best to research and check what is included before going ahead with the purchase.
Doing this search in advance will allow you to better understand the options at your disposal and how each resort’s offering can vary. Look out for the quality of the offers and pay attention to what you might end up paying extra for in the fine print.
For the general majority of all-inclusive resorts, what you can count on are amenities such as food and drinks, but some might have a cap on what is included without having to pay extra.
Some great questions to ask before booking your all-inclusive to find out exactly what you can count on are:
- Are the airport transfers to the resort included?
- Are all alcoholic beverages included? Does the resort serve your favorite drinks?
- Is there 24-hour food service? Is it possible to eat and drink what you want?
- How many restaurants does the resort have available? What kind of cuisine are they?
- Is the in-suite minibar included? Is it stocked?
- Does the resort offer activities for kids and are those included in the package?
- Is the WiFi included, both in-room and in the common areas?
- Are gratuity, tips, and taxes included in your booking price?
Essentially, the meaning of all-inclusive will be different depending on your destination.
Are All-Inclusive Resorts Worth the Money?
This will obviously depend on the amount of money you are looking to spend, what type of vacation you want to go on, and the type of resort you go to. If you pick a good resort with all the inclusions you’re looking for you can definitely make it worth your money.
It’s all about making sure you know what you’re paying for, that what you want is included, and that there won’t be any surprises in order to make your money cover as much as possible.
Keep reading along to get better versed on the different things you can expect from an all-inclusive resort and you’ll find that picking the right spot for you will become a lot easier!
What Is Included in an All-Inclusive Vacation Package?
Every all-inclusive resort will be different. Since there are some common features you can expect, let's review some of the included features you can expect at any given all-inclusive resort.
Roundtrip Airport Transfer
Having your transportation all figured out before arriving at the airport is another amazing perk of all-inclusive packages. What’s better than landing and simply getting into a prepaid car that takes you to your resort without any issues? This also extends to when you leave, so you’ll also have a car available to take you to the airport at the end of your trip. They aren’t guaranteed at every all-inclusive resort but it’s always something in which you can inquire about.
Gourmet Dining & Unlimited (Alcoholic) Drinks
At an all-inclusive resort, when it comes to food you can generally count on having breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks included. This means you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat style holiday with rather few limits.
For adults-only drinks, it will most likely depend from resort to resort. While some may have an array of alcoholic beverages included at no additional fee, others won’t. It is possible though to find places that have all types of drinks as part of the package and without any limits.
What is a vacation without having fun in the sun and splashing around in the water? Particularly when you’re traveling with your children, having set times where they can use up some of their energy will definitely come in handy!
Some of the water sports you can expect to see are water skiing, tubing, aqua trikes, scuba diving, snorkeling, Hobie cats, glass-bottom boat trips, windsurfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and bodyboarding. With all these different activities on offer, you’ll never run out of things to do!
Tip: Of course, if you’re spending a lot of time out in the sun you want to make sure you’re protecting yourself accordingly. Not to mention having a cute swimsuit and a comfortable and stylish cover-up that can get you through the whole resort without any worries. For the more active water sports days, having a piece like a rashguard can come in handy, and luckily we have plenty of cute options on deck!
Take part in a beach volleyball game with your family for some unwinding time and fun times enjoying the sun while being active. Whether there’s a match already going on or you have to start your own it’s always a great activity to take part in!
Basketball, Day And Night Tennis, Pool Tables
Besides the games above, there are plenty of others you can take part in (for example lawn chess, croquet, soccer, tennis, shuffleboard, billiards, and table tennis). There will be multiple different options for land sports activities at an all-inclusive resort, great for any age to get into.
Even though golf isn’t a common offering when it comes to family-centered all-inclusive resorts, you can definitely find some with it available. These can include a practice range, putting and chipping greens, a full-service golf shop, complimentary club storage facilities, and changing facilities.
Fitness Center With State-Of-The-Art Equipment
At the right all-inclusive resort, you won’t have to worry about sacrificing your workout routine. Most establishments host amazing gym facilities that will allow you to complete a full gym session whenever you want. The only thing that might hold you back is all the other exciting activities you’ll want to take part in!
Round the Clock Entertainment
All during your trip, at most all-inclusive places, you’ll be able to find something for each person in your party to do. This can range from heading to a beach party to a live band or stage show to a resort-themed night or multiple other offers they’ll have for you!
Certified Nannies and Kids’ Clubs
If your kids are coming along with you for your holidays you can check what the no-additional-cost activities on offer at the all-inclusive resort are for children. Some places also offer nannies and special needs programs.
Kids’ activities can be a range of scavenger hunts, beach soccer, jam sessions, treasure hunts, swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, arts and crafts, magic shows, costume dress-up, building sandcastles, karaoke, talent shows, and much more, depending on your kid’s age!
Generally, Wi-Fi should be free at beach resorts and is available both in the rooms and throughout the resort, which also includes common areas. While your main concern probably won’t be logging on while relaxing and having fun in paradise, it’s always a good piece of information to have for any moment where you might want to surf the web, instead of the waves.
Are All-Inclusive Resorts Safe?
Since there aren’t many reasons to leave the resort, unlike other vacation spots, all-inclusive hotels can actually be safer than other places to vacation. The best all-inclusive resorts will be gated off from public access for security reasons and have a security team on-site. Of course, it’s always best to keep your kids nearby and not leave them totally unattended.
Know the Difference
While that is basically all you need to know about the all-inclusive concept there are some little technicalities that can come in handy to know and understand the difference between them!
All-Inclusive vs. a la Carte
While all-inclusive holiday packages have accommodation, room service, meals, top-shelf drinks, spa treatments, and other services within the offer, a la carte resorts allow you to pick and choose instead of going all-in. You can decide which amenities or services you’d like included before check-in.
All-Inclusive vs. Self-Catering
Self-catering properties generally aren’t as much in the way of inclusions but instead offer all the amenities that will allow you to feel at home. This generally means kitchenettes or full kitchens that allow you to cook your own meals. While this might be good for those that have strict dieting restrictions due to allergies and the likes, it can also take away from a fully relaxing holiday where you do nothing but lounge around!
All-Inclusive vs. Half-Board
Half-board accommodations might or might not include some options and services, but you probably won’t find comprehensive inclusions at these types of establishments. When heading to a half-board you need to be extra clear about what is and isn’t offered before placing the booking.
Some places will offer breakfast and lunch, but not dinner, or snacks and drinks. If you compare this to an all-inclusive destination this can seem quite beneath the standard since these will normally offer unlimited any-time drinks, meals, and snacks as part of the trip package.
All-Inclusive vs. Full-Board
The term “Full-board” is pretty uncommon nowadays, but essentially it means that the majority of your meals are included. This doesn’t include extras like snacks and alcoholic drinks, which is one of the major points that differentiate it from the offers available at all-inclusive resorts.
What About the Fine Print?
Before you take the plunge and book your vacation you’ll want to double-check that the activities you want to engage in are actually included within the package you’ll be paying for. Check if there are any conditions attached and, as we mentioned at the start, don’t be afraid to ask questions to confirm any specific amenities you’re looking for. After all, you’re paying for the perfect paradise trip where the whole point is not to concern yourself while you’re on it, so doing this little bit of work beforehand will actually allow you to rest and recharge without any worries while on your holidays.
If we’re being real, all-inclusive holidays probably aren’t something you’re heading on every day, and in fact, for many, it’s a true privilege to be able to afford such a trip. Exactly because of this, if you’re going to do it you should make sure to do it right, and it also makes sense to get everything you want and need. The aim of this trip should be to have fun and relax with your family and return home ready to get back into the swing of things!