Monday, June 13, 2011

The Skinny On All-Inclusives

One thing I've noticed within each wedding group is that there are always a few guests who are unfamiliar and a bit uncomfortable with the all-inclusive-resort aspect. This always surprises me because I absolutely love the concept and the all-encompassing experience it allows for! I figured that reviewing the benefits as well as 'Do's and Don'ts' might be a great reference for some of my future wedding groups, so here goes!
Top three reasons to love all-inclusive vacations:
1. You can save a bundle.
An all-inclusive package typically includes accommodations, all food + drinks, entertainment, on-site activities and even transportation to and from the airport. This type of bundling allows people to get the most for their money! Another financial perk of all-inclusive vacations is cost-predictability. You will know the total price of the vacation from the day you book and only need to bring money for extra things like shopping and/or motorized excursions (jet-skiing, parasailing, zip-lining, etc.).
2. You can be entertained from dawn to dusk.
Many activities are offered for free such as snorkeling, wind-surfing, sailing, fitness classes and beach parties (just to name a select few). These provide a lot of fun opportunities to travelers who want to do more than poolside lounging. The best part? These little adventures are both free and on-site/convenient.
3. There are almost always fun childcare options offered.
Most of the family-friendly resorts offer kid's clubs where younger travelers can be entertained for hours. Furthermore, many of the all-inclusive resorts have multiple groupings so that each age-cluster can do intriguing and age appropriate activities. Examples include mask-making, kickball tournaments, sea lion shows, water balloon battles, Lego contests, sack races, video/board games, broom hockey and more.
The Do's and Don'ts:
- DO ask if you can use the facilities at sister resorts if you're staying at a chain resort. Many places provide transportation between the properties which allows for 'more to explore' at no additional cost.
- DON'T expect an intensely cultural experience. To be quite honest, native culture is not a main priority at many of the all-inclusives and some spots are in very secluded beachfront areas.
- DO inquire about potential additional costs. Clarify exactly what comes in the all-inclusive package at your resort without making assumptions because there is some variance. Certain resorts may charge more for things like premium brand liquors, gratuities and private babysitting services.
- DON'T leave your dinner clothes behind. Some people assume since they're not venturing off-property for dinner that beachwear is o.k. Not true! Even casual resorts have dinner dress codes, so make sure to pack appropriately.
- DO look South, as many of the best all-inclusive deals can be found in Jamaica, Mexico, Aruba, Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic. 90-95% of places in spots like Hawaii, Fiji and Tahiti are not all-inclusive which seems to be a huge misconception.

So are you feeling more familiar with the all-inclusive concept? I hope so! I know that many people are unsure about this route but I'm telling you, it's sooooooo worth a try. If you have a favorite all-inclusive spot feel free to share it in the comments section... I'd love to hear about it!

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