Many people ask me, what is all inclusive? What exactly does it include? Here are some Frequently Asked Questions to help you decide if an All Inclusive vacation is right for you.
What does All Inclusive pricing include?
Every all inclusive resort is different as to the depth of each inclusion but you will mainly find that an all-inclusive resort will include your accommodations, meals, snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, non-motorized watersports, kids club, nightly entertainment, room service, mini bar, tips and gratuities. You pretty much don't need to take out your wallet once you arrive.
Every Resort includes that?
Always do research. Some resorts will have an additional charge for lobster or room service delivery fee. Some also will have additional charges if you prefer a more premium type of liquor. I've also found that some Caribbean Island resorts won't include the mini bar, while most Mexican destination resorts do. There are all inclusive resorts for all price ranges and usually the higher the price range, the more premium and higher the level of inclusion is. If you prefer premium brand liquors and are willing to pay for it, sometimes it becomes cheaper to stay at a higher priced all inclusive because then the liquor you enjoy is included.
Where can I find good All-Inclusive Resorts?
Mexico and the Caribbean are pretty much the hub for all-inclusive resorts. You won't really find them in the United States, Canada, and in the longer haul destinations. For the best value, I would recommend Mexico. They throw everything and the kitchen sink into their pricing. The Caribbean has some great All-Inclusive resorts but the main difference I've seen over the years is that the Caribbean resorts usually have about 3 restaurants to choose from while the Mexico Resorts usually have about 5. This is not true at all the Caribbean resorts, nor is it true for all Mexican resorts, but I would venture to say most are like this. Sandals Resorts are well known in the Caribbean and they always have far more than 3 options. Chains like AM Resorts are expanding quickly in the Caribbean and they always have 5 as well.
What kind of non-motorized watersports are included?
Typically, resorts provide kayaks, snorkel equipment, and some even do scuba certification. I've stayed at resorts that included water bicycles, archery, air rifles, and ocean trampolines as well. Every resort is different.
Is the cuisine sub-par?
Always a myth. There are usually options for everyone and resorts typically include options that include Italian, Mexican, tapas or Mediterranean, Asian/fusion, and the like. Each resort, based on the budget range it is in, will have cuisine geared toward that budget range. If you are staying in a budget friendly hotel, you are going to have more buffet style and need to make reservations for the a la carte restaurants. You may also find additional charges for lobster or some steaks if they offer it. For a mid to higher priced resort, you probably won't have to make reservations and have more options to choose from.
Even though tips are included, won't I get better service if I tip?
I suppose it varies. I've stayed at resorts where the staff does not expect a tip at all but when you do, they are so appreciative; of course they are going to always try and take the best care of you. It's human nature. They do it more as a thank you than a "he tipped me and you didn't" mentality. I've also stayed at resorts where staff seemed to expect tips and you knew who tipped and who didn't. I would say that while tips are included and not expected, it is always nice to tip if someone provides a service to you that you enjoyed. The pool wait staff and housekeepers make so little compared to the United States that I will always give a thank you tip for them at the end of the vacation.