What Is Included in All-Inclusive Resorts? The Inside Scoop on What You Can Expect from Your Vacation Package

Sometimes, you need a break, a chance to be pampered and spoiled the way your parents spoiled you as a kid, but infinitely better—sorry, Mom and Dad. So, if you want to vacation like royalty and live care-free, then an all-inclusive resort, with all its perks included, is the best option around.

But the life of a royal differs depending on where you go, and it pays—quite literally—to make sure your perfect royal experience is the one you’re paying for when you book.

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What Is an All-Inclusive Resort?

An all-inclusive resort is a dream for vacationers desperate for a getaway with no responsibilities, including feeding themselves. 

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All-inclusive resorts take care of all your necessities while traveling. Lodgings, food, and drinks are all covered, along with gratuity. In addition, most packages will offer other amenities in the price, like water and land sports, spa facilities, entertainment, and more.

The best part about all-inclusive vacations is knowing that everything is paid for. You don’t have to worry about the price of a meal before you eat or the cost of snorkeling in pristine blue waters before you go. You can just do it!

Are All All-Inclusive Resorts Alike?

Nope! As with most things in life, not all resorts and all-inclusive experiences are created equal. 

That said, you’ll notice some similarities between all-inclusive resorts, like the majority being located in warm regions like Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Additionally, many provide access to stunning beaches and ocean waters and supply all the things you need to make a beach vacation perfect. However, the differences after that can distinguish a great experience from a mediocre one.

The variation all comes down to the amenities included in your package. Depending on the resort, those can vary greatly. 

Hint: it’s all in the fine print.

Combing through the fine print beforehand can make the difference between the worry-free indulgence of knowing everything is already covered and the kind of uncertainty that can ruin a trip topped off with hefty bills at the end of your stay.

Are All-Inclusive Resorts Worth the Cost?

If you choose the right all-inclusive resort, it’s definitely worth the price you pay. 

But a single resort experience isn’t going to be the same for everyone.

It all comes down to what you want out of your resort experience. Having an experience worth writing home about means knowing what your options are. You need to know what you want your perfect all-inclusive vacation to include, and double-check your all-inclusive package offers it. 

And hey, a little research now is worth it if it means planning the kind of vacation for which future you will thank you.

13 Things That May Be Included in Your All-Inclusive Resort Package

The name may have all-inclusive in the title, but that doesn’t mean your stay will include everything you want.

A good all-inclusive resort will have your accommodations, food and drinks, taxes, and gratuity included. An excellent all-inclusive resort will consist of exciting activities and excursions in your stay—beach parties and water sports, anyone?—and the kind of worry-free fun that comes from knowing your expenses are already paid.

So, here are 13 things that may or may not be included in your all-inclusive resort package but that you should seriously consider making a part of your experience for a stress-free, relaxing vacation.

1. Roundtrip Airport Transfers

You’ve packed up all your clothes, gotten yourself on the plane, and flown several hours away. Now you’re just a few steps from paradise, with no way to get there.

Wait, what?

Airport transfers take the anxiety out of planning your own transport. Sure, you could skip over this little detail and simply arrange your own transportation, hunting down a taxi, or calling a ride service. But you could get stuck with expensive hotel zone fares, scheduling issues, or any other number of problems. 

Having airport transfers included in your all-inclusive package allows your worries to end from the moment you touch down at the airport.

And if you want to eliminate your worries even sooner, look no further than Next Vacay. With frequent deals to some of the best all-inclusive destinations in the Caribbean and worldwide, you’ll find jetting off to your care-free destination as easy as booking. Getting to the airport with fewer worries means you can start your stress-free vacation even sooner!

2. Accommodations

Rest assured, no matter the kind of all-inclusive resort, your accommodations are an essential part of your experience, so they’re covered. 

So, you’ve got somewhere to rest your head. But where is that exactly?

Lodgings can range from deluxe rooms with flat-screen TVs and balconies to suites with private infinity pools and overwater bungalows with swim-up platforms.

Ensure you know the kinds of rooms and amenities on offer. For example, not every all-inclusive resort will have private pools or overwater bungalows. If they do, not every package will include them. 

So, if you’ve always dreamed of waking up to the soft lapping of waves beneath your feet, the sunrise over the horizon, and fish swimming under a glass window on the floor, then make sure your all-inclusive resort can make that dream a reality for you.

3. Food

Food is another essential element of all-inclusive resorts. Not having to cook your meals or worry about finding a good restaurant is probably one of the biggest draws all-inclusive resorts offer—that and drinks, which we’ll get to in a moment. 

The best all-inclusive resorts will include three meals, your standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner set, along with anytime snacks you can nab and enjoy no matter the hour.

If you don’t want to think about how and when you’ll eat aside from popping into the resort’s on-site restaurants, double-check your package covers all your meals and offers truly unlimited food. That way, you can enjoy the finest restaurants and gourmet dining with a clear conscience and a full stomach.

4. Drinks

Like food, drinks are a requisite part of your all-inclusive vacation. Most all-inclusive resorts typically offer unlimited drinks, including alcoholic drinks and soft drinks. 

However, not all resorts offer premium liquor brands through their all-inclusive packages. (Although, some definitely do!) Others may add on a surcharge for the good stuff. So, if liquor and specific brands are a sticking point for you, be aware.

Some all-inclusive resorts offer a minibar service but check out reviews before you book to see if past guests have complained of watered-down drinks.

Swim-up bars are perhaps an unnecessary but fun perk to be on the lookout for. You can enjoy a cool, refreshing drink without ever getting out of the water!

5. Room Service

You don’t have to worry about room service fees for delicious buffet-style food delivered to your room. But with most all-inclusive resorts, where you may be caught unaware is hidden fees for expected gratuities to cover the waitstaff delivering food and drinks to your poolside beach chair. 

Double-check the fine print to see if these services are a part of your package. You don’t want to be stuck with any hidden surprises when you check out of your all-inclusive hotel or resort.

6. Entertainment

You’ll likely spend the majority of your vacation on the resort property. Consequently, you’ll want to make sure your stay includes plenty of entertainment to keep your days and nights busy—when you want them to be, that is. 

The good news is that most all-inclusive resorts will offer several forms of entertainment, from comedy shows to live music, beach parties, and nightclubs. Moreover, no matter your package, they’re typically free and open to all guests. So, you’re free to laugh or dance the nights away as you please.

7. Spa Services

Some of the best all-inclusive resorts, like the all-inclusive family-friendly Beaches Resort, give you access to their spa facilities. However, certain spa services are an additional cost outside of their packages. 

So be aware if you’re planning to pamper yourself or indulge in a couple’s massage, you can add spa treatments to your list of additional expenses.

8. Land-Based Fun

If you’re looking for daytime activities to keep yourself occupied, you’ll find your fill at all-inclusive resorts. Most resorts have everything from dance lessons to beach volleyball and night tennis to rec rooms equipped with pool tables, bocce ball, and other fun games.

Those likely all sound well and good, but you may be wondering, what about golf? 

Golf is a popular activity at all-inclusive resorts. They’re often set in pleasant climates against beautiful, tropical backdrops, making them all the more enticing. Unfortunately, with those added perks, it might not be a total surprise to learn that golf is another additional cost to your trip. 

While plenty of resorts include golf courses as part of their all-inclusive property, it isn’t always free to use and will likely cost extra. Or, you may find the added costs tacked on elsewhere.

For example, Sandals Resorts include green fees in their packages at select golf resorts. However, despite being considered mandatory, they don’t include caddies in your package, so be prepared to foot the bill for that.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you plan to play on the green, plan to spend a little extra green.

9. Motorized Water Sports

Hitting the water on a jet ski or getting tugged along behind a boat while water skiing sounds like the kind of fun time you’d expect at a resort. But don’t expect that fun to come cheap.

You may find some resorts that include these or special activities like a couple’s cruise as part of their all-inclusive packages. However, if you’re looking to get out on a boat on the water, brace your expectations and your wallet in advance. 

10. Non-Motorized Water Sports

Thankfully, most resorts will include non-motorized water sports equipment in their packages. 

Things like snorkeling, kayaks, paddleboards, and more are fair game to explore beyond the beautiful beaches and dive deeper into the stunning waters surrounding your all-inclusive resort.

Just be aware that diving may be a separate and extra cost if you don’t already have your PADI certification.

11. Guided Excursions

Ever been on an all-inclusive cruise? The unlimited food and drinks were undoubtedly terrific, but if you recall back to your trip, you likely had to pay extra to swim with dolphins or ride horseback along the beach.

Think of your all-inclusive vacation in similar terms to that cruise ship package. 

Unfortunately, all-inclusive resorts typically don’t include guided excursions out of the hotel zone as part of their packages. 

Many resorts have an office where you can sign up for tours to take you out of the hotel. However, this is one area to be mindful of possible savings. More often than not, you won’t be getting the best price on the excursion and may even end up paying extra to do it through the hotel. 

Comparing rates is your best bet, and if you want to do outside tours during your resort stay, consider signing up for it separately from your resort.

12. Wi-Fi 

More and more all-inclusive resorts are beginning to include complimentary Wi-Fi in their packaging. But it’s not a guarantee that your all-inclusive resort will. So, if you find internet access necessary on your getaway to paradise, double-check the availability at your resort. You’ll also want to check if the Wi-Fi comes secured with a password, as open networks could compromise your information when you search. 

Even if Wi-Fi winds up being free, you may end up forgoing its use—which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the whole purpose of your trip is to relax and have a vacation free from work and worries!

13. Adults Only or Child-Friendly

Some resorts are adults-only and cater their activities to couples, while others are focused on family experiences. 

A perfect example of this is the Sandals Resorts International company, which offers two distinct all-inclusive experiences: Sandals resorts for couples and Beaches resorts for families. 

Suppose you’re planning a trip with your little one. In that case, you’ll want to be sure your resort caters to families and not just in that they accept little ones running wild, but also in that they have programs and activities perfectly catered to entertain your baby or toddler and daycare facilities when needed.

Is an All-Inclusive Resort Right for Me?

All-inclusive resorts aren’t for everyone. They weren’t made to be. Instead, they cater to a specific type of traveler looking for a tension-free, untroubled vacation, where everything is taken care of in advance. 

Once you arrive, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy being pampered and indulged.

However, it’s all in the name. Due to the nature of all-inclusive resorts being modeled with a complete experience in mind, they’re very location-based and limited in what they offer outside of the hotel zone. All-inclusive resorts aim to provide everything you might need without ever leaving the resort.

Consequently, if you don’t find yourself interested in all the amenities in the all-inclusive experience, you might find other options more suited to your dream vacation. 

For example, a la carte resorts will allow you to pick and choose which services you want without being locked into a specific set of amenities at a fixed price. Another option is full board hotels, which generally include complete meal services but charge extra for alcoholic drinks.

So, if the purpose of your trip is getting out and exploring your destination and the local culture, an all-inclusive vacation won’t be worth the cost you’re paying for the experience. And that’s okay. The worst thing you could do is spend more money than necessary trying to shoehorn your perfect experience into an all-inclusive package. 

The most important thing is to find what works for you. Then, enjoy your precious time off doing what you love.

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