Is an All-Inclusive Resort Right for You?
Most people stick to one kind of vacation. Chances are, you either think of yourself as a person who likes beach vacations, or city vacations, or maybe skiing vacations, and you’ve gotten in the habit of doing the same basic thing every time. Likewise, you probably have a preference about hotels — five-star luxury, bed and breakfast, or maybe something in between. All-inclusive resorts are another way to go, and provide the comfort of knowing that everything is taken care of. But there are a lot of misconceptions about the all-inclusive experience, and most people think that resorts where everything is “free” must be prohibitively expensive. Although all-inclusives can become costly if you’re not careful, DIY vacations, where you put everything together yourself, can also wreak havoc on your credit card. Also, people wonder if “all-inclusive” means they’ll have less freedom than if they booked a regular hotel, but each system has its advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re thinking about booking a vacation at an all-inclusive, ask yourself first what your requirements are for the trip, and what you hope to get out of the experience. People think there’s only one kind of all-inclusive vacation, but the truth is there are now all kinds of resorts worldwide that specialize in various activities and target specific groups of people. Some are beach resorts for families, others are couples-only, and some are geared more toward athletes or centered around a spa. Take the time to write a list of things you’d like to do, because part of the point of an all-inclusive vacation is that you should be able to get almost everything you’re looking for without having to seek help outside the resort.
Does this mean you’ll be trapped in the resort, not able to get out and explore your surroundings? Again, it depends on the resort, and it depends on the area. Some resorts are located out in the middle of nowhere (this is often the case with more budget resorts, as being in a less populated area can help keep costs down), and if you leave the resort you’ll find it’s a good long taxi ride before you’re able to get back to civilization. Many are in areas where there isn’t even a proper town as such, and you could drive around forever and not find anything. So if you’re the kind of person who gets bored staying on the hotel’s property, make sure the resort you choose is in a populated area or at least within reasonable distance of a town.
The benefit of an all-inclusive vacation is that you don’t have to think about anything. It’s great for people whose chief reason for traveling is to get a break from the stress and strain of everyday life. As soon as you walk in the door, you can put everything behind you and concentrate on relaxing. It is the resort’s job to make sure you are well-informed about all the activities and options that are available, and if you want to turn your brain off and unplug, that’s exactly what you can do. This may not be ideal for those who want to be completely independent and control their own activities and excursions. If your main desire on vacation is to venture out and do your own thing without being told when and where to do it, an all-inclusive resort may seem restrictive, and of course there’s no point in paying for the experience if you’re not interested in most of the services they offer.
As far as cost is concerned, research your options. Many people think that “all-inclusive” automatically means they can literally leave their wallets at home, but this is often not the case. Quite a lot of resorts now have different levels of inclusiveness, as it were. Normally the basic level means that your room, meals, use of amenities (gym, pool, nightclub), and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price, but if you want to take part in extra activities like spa treatments or adventure excursions, you have to pay separately for those. This can be good for those on a budget who don’t feel they have to do every single available activity in order to have a good time. At the other end of the spectrum, there is usually a deluxe super-inclusive package, where you pay a premium price to ensure that nothing will cost you a dime. If you want to go parasailing, you just sign up for it. If you want the most indulgent spa day, just show up at the spa and don’t worry about another thing. Many resorts also have premium restaurants and bars exclusively for the use of their highest tier guests (and of course, everything inside is free).
It’s worth trying an all-inclusive resort at least once, just to get a feel for what it’s really like. Many times people think they already know it won’t be for them, but if you do your homework and make informed choices, chances are there’s an all-inclusive resort somewhere that’s exactly right for you and your budget.