All-inclusive Resorts

by Sheila  

Resorts that include all meals, drinks, lodging and activities in one price are great for peace of mind.

It is also somewhat difficult to find a truly all-inclusive resort.  At some, the daily price covers lodging and meals, but not drinks.  At other places, the daily price includes lodging, meals and drinks but not fees to participate in resort activities, or to rent equipment like jetskis or bicycles.  Some resorts include tipping, but not all, and to properly tip each staff member who has been helpful is not an inexpensive proposition.

The airfare or other transportation costs to get there and back need to be rolled into the the final price as well.

All-inclusive resort advantages for families

  • One you know the full, complete price, you can enjoy a hassle-free vacation without worrying about unexpected budget-busters.  Hand over the cash, check or credit card, and you’re done.
  • A resort that is all-inclusive usually has a wide array of activities and amenities, so customers will feel that they are getting a good deal for their money. Variety is the spice of life, right?
  • Lots of different age-appropriate activities means that everyone gets to enjoy themselves and have a fun vacation, including weary parents who can take a break from keeping children occupied.
  • Family members may be able to try unusual activities or sports for the first time, even if they’re usually not available back at home or are too expensive.  For example, if there’s no extra cost, why not try scuba diving, or flying on a trapeze at one of the resorts that has circus-related activities?
  • There is no shortage of food and drinks; chow down at lavish buffets literally morning, noon and night. Be aware: non-alcoholic drinks may be included, but if you want a nightly margarita and wine or beer with dinner, that may be extra.

All-inclusive resort disadvantages for families

  • Hidden fees. Not every resort is as clear about fees as they should be, and it’s incumbent upon the purchaser (you) to fully understand your travel deal BEFORE being handed a bill at the end and having a black cloud over your vacation.
  • All-inclusives tend to be walled-gardens, so if the point of going to another location is to meet locals and enjoy local cuisine and activities, a resort may not provide that unless you consider it sufficient to meet local hotel staff.  Why fly all the way to, say, the Dominican Republic, only to spend the entire time on the resort’s property and never see any of the country?
  • If you eat and drink at groaning buffets for days, you may find that the food actually gets monotonous (and your britches start stretching from the load.) :)
  • Very young children and babies are probably not going to be jet-skiing, parasailing, horseback riding or cycling.  Are there activities for babies and toddlers, or does one parent have Baby Duty and the other goes off to do the fun stuff with the older kids?  Hmmm, that’s not a vacation for everyone.
  • Many popular all-inclusives are in the Caribbean, in countries outside the U.S.  Does everyone in your family have passports?  Are you prepared to deal with summertime hurricanes?

Finding all-inclusives

  • Club Med is probably the granddaddy of all-inclusives. Founded in 1950 with resorts in the Mediterranean, it is now a worldwide chain of facilities.  There is one in the US, Florida’s Sandpiper.
  • Don’t just look for beach resorts — Western dude ranches, African safari camps, off-season ski resorts, Adirondack lodges and family camps are often all-inclusive.
  • More ideas in the US, Caribbean and Mexico are listed here.

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