Is An All Inclusive Resort Right For You?

The All Inclusive resort is becoming a major staple in the travel industry. Years ago the idea of all inclusive meant Club Med. You may remember – the party atmosphere, the uninspiring food, the plastic pop beads used to pay for drinks. Your other option for an “all inclusive” was the Catskill resort in the film Dirty Dancing! Things have changed!

Your choices for an all inclusive resort now can be an island retreat, the Mexican Riviera or the Yucatan Peninsula. All Inclusive resorts now emphasize customer service, outstanding food choices and a wide choice of activities. But is the All Inclusive right for you? Maybe – sometimes – depending …

First decide what kind of vacation you are interested in. Do you want to relax in a beach chair, bury your feet in the sand and only move to beckon a waiting waiter? Are you interested in trying a kayak or windsurfing? Is this a family trip or a romantic getaway for two? So far you can find any of those in an all inclusive resort.

Understand what an All Inclusive really offers. In a nutshell it is a pay one price vacation. Your meals are included, your drinks – both alcoholic and non, most non motorized water sports and night time entertainment. Many resorts have a no tipping policy and some will provide transportation from the airport to the resort.

If you love the idea that you have paid for your vacation and don’t have to worry about carrying extra money then the All Inclusive may be for you.

But be aware not everything is included. There may be a charge for the snorkeling boat trips or scuba diving. Golf is usually extra as are visits to the spa. Baby sitting may also have an extra charge as may some arcade games. And while tipping may be discouraged at some of the resorts (and forbidden at others!) a well placed tip may sometimes dramatically improve your service.

If you’re considering an All Inclusive then work with a Travel Professional to plan your vacation. The questions that they ask can help you make the decision and also which of the all inclusive resorts are best for you.

If you have a specific island in mind they may not have an all inclusive resort- or your choice may be limited. Your best bets are Jamaica, St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic, Aruba and Mexico.
So let’s consider the pros and cons and answer the question “Why choose an All Inclusive?”

Price: if price is a concern you may think that an all inclusive comes with a fairly high price tag. That may be true at the outset but you do go into this vacation knowing what it will cost you at the end. That isn’t true of most vacations. The add ons are minimal and more easily controlled. Your food is paid for; your drinks are taken care of. If you love to golf or scuba dive that may cost extra but you’ll know that before you start.

Great Beaches: usually but not always. Most resorts build themselves around a terrific beach and use it as a great selling point. Be sure to check if this is true of your resort. However, even those with less than stellar beaches recognize the attraction of the water sports and have elaborate pools- some are so enormous they resemble a water park!

Good Food: again, most but not always. The food choices at all inclusives have been steadily improving. Most parents love the easy availability of food choices for the children. There are buffets and beach or pool side grills that serve up quick meals for hungry little ones. While some couples may be accustomed to exploring for quaint little restaurants it’s hard to complain about a choice of 5, 6 or 7 different restaurants in one location. Many of the specialty restaurants are small and do require a reservation. If you’re a real “foodie” make your dinner bookings early to avoid disappointment.

Children’s Programs: Most resorts have some form of “Kid’s Club”. Many of them are just a friendly place with toys and a TV- some video games and a friendly staff. All ages may be grouped together. Some resorts however are noted for their children’s programs. Coconut Bay in St. Lucia has a giant kid’s club with a waterplay zone, waterslides and activities. Beaches Resorts – the family friendly arm of Sandals – offers multiple programs for different ages. They have waterslides, Pirate Island, Teen Discos and with their connection to Sesame Street they also offer character breakfasts with Elmo and the gang!

The other big winner with Children’s programming surprisingly enough is Club Med. Long thought of as the singles paradise Club Med has seen the growth of the baby boomers and now wants them and the whole family back. Their programs are more like camp- they have in line skating, Hip Hop dancing, archery and a circus school at some clubs complete with trapeze instruction.

Entertainment: Most resorts provide nightly entertainment. It may not be Las Vegas but some of these shows can be quite spectacular! Some also offer the quieter piano bars and lounge singer options. Remember, it’s all included! But if you’re looking for a new show every night and big name entertainment this may not be the place for you.

Romantic: Let’s see – moonlit beaches, romantic strolls, gourmet food and great wines????? Yep, we got romantic covered. Want to avoid the “younger set”? How about all adult resorts? Try Sandals Resorts, Couples, Secrets, Club Med in Turks & Caicos or Le Blanc Spa in Cancun.
So, is an All Inclusive Resort right for you?? You’ll never know unless you try!

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