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All Inclusive Vacations

What’s an All-Inclusive Resort?

Here, we take a look at what’s typically included at an all-inclusive resort and whether all-inclusive resorts are worth the extra money upfront.

There are so many choices and options when you decide to book a vacation. Where to go, when to go, how long to stay, what to see … the list goes on and on. But more and more often you encounter another alternative: Do I want to stay at an all-inclusive resort?

The first question, of course, is what exactly is an all-inclusive resort and what is included? Looking at the name itself, things such as your accommodations, meals and non-motorized recreation equipment are often included. All-inclusive fees typically do not include airfare, for example, but may or may not include ground transportation from the airport. Each resort may offer different amenities and features as part of their All-Inclusive package.

There usually are optional upcharges available, such as high-end dining, top-shelf drinks and off-site excursions. But it is possible to have an amazing vacation without paying extra if you are willing to forego the upscale add-ons.

But Are All-Inclusive Vacations Worth the Extra Cost?

Yes, it definitely can be. Remember the first time you went on an ocean cruise? The price may have seemed a bit steep, but when you added up the nightly cost of a hotel, three meals daily plus snacks, and entertainment, the per-day cost seemed pretty reasonable -- even though it probably didn’t include alcoholic beverages. That same logic applies to all-inclusive resort rentals, except these resorts often include alcoholic beverages.

Will I Enjoy Staying at an All-Inclusive Property?

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when all-inclusive resorts had a reputation for serving guests boring buffets and offering only limited recreation activities. Fortunately, today the trend is to offer guests a variety of dining options -- from takeout to gourmet -- and to cater to the vacationer’s desire for a more experiential getaway. What’s more, all-inclusive accommodations, which used to tend toward the basic, are now trending more upscale, with condominium-style resort properties increasingly replacing sparse hotel offerings.

So, a stay at an all-inclusive resort means you can have posh accommodations, excellent meals and lots of fun things to see and do.

Are All-Inclusive Accommodations One Size Fits All?

No. Perhaps one of the biggest myths about all-inclusive resorts (besides that the food is not up to par) is that you’ll get what you get as far as accommodations are concerned, and don’t have any choices. In most cases, you will select the unit size and type of accommodation -- just like at any other hotel or resort. If you have a big budget and want a large, three-bedroom ocean side suite, then that’s what you can book. Likewise, if you want to save a bit of money you can book a smaller unit and/or one without a premium view.

Remember All-Inclusive Resorts May Be as Seasonal as Regular Resorts

Just because a resort is an all-inclusive doesn’t mean the pricing is the same year ‘round. As with the pricing on various accommodations, pricing at an all-inclusive resort will vary according to whatever seasonal influences shape travel to the destination (the same as it affects other hotels and resorts). For example, don’t expect the best price in Orlando during the summer during the height of vacation time.

And, of course, you can expect popular holidays -- such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve -- to bump up the cost as well.

Are All-Inclusive Holidays Good for Families?

Yes. Because all-inclusives tend to include children’s programs and beach activities, your young ones will tend to have their days full of prepaid activities and fun -- which means they won’t be begging you to take them to every offsite attraction in the area. As a result your bottom line shouldn’t be shocking when you see the final bill at the end of the trip.

Do All-Inclusive Stays Include Tips?

Some don’t, but most do typically include tips. Some all-inclusive resorts forbid tipping altogether, while others allow it at the guests’ discretion for over-and-above service. What you won’t find is an expected daily tip added to the bill like on some cruise ships.

Where Are All-Inclusive Resorts?

Theoretically, you could find an all-inclusive property anywhere in the world, but they are mostly found in Mexico and the Caribbean. Resorts advertised as all-inclusive in places such as Florida and Hawaii tend to not define the term all-inclusive the same way as resorts located outside the United States do, so always be sure to check exactly what is included -- and what is not.

What Is an ‘Optional All-Inclusive’?

The term optional all-inclusive means you are not required to participate in all-inclusive or pay the associated fees. (You still will have the option to pay for all-inclusive once you arrive at the resort.) In contrast, mandatory all-inclusive means that you must participate in all-inclusive and are required to pay the associated fees.

So, are all-inclusives worth the extra money? If you find a good deal on a place you’d like to visit, then the answer is a resounding yes!

You can find great deals on all-inclusive vacations right here at


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