All-inclusive hotels are not for everyone. Personally, I always find it difficult to enjoy myself thoroughly. The things that excite me the most about travel aren’t there: local food and local flavours, the noises and smells of a busy foreign city, the need to deal with the local population, the culture… There’s also the fact that I need to adapt to their customs, not the other way around!
However all-inclusive resorts offer a lot of positives… wallet-wise.
Here’s what to do – and what to avoid – in order to have a successful all-inclusive trip!
All-Inclusive Hotels – DO: Check if the price is worth it
Travelling can be extremely expensive. Shopping for plane tickets and affordable hotels can take a lot of time.
Oftentimes, when all-inclusive resorts are bunched up together – like in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean – heading to a cheap all-inclusive is pretty much the same price as combining the flight and a regular hotel.
Case in point: the Dominican Republic. There is a $300 difference between taking a roundtrip flight from London to Punta Cana – no hotel, no transportation, no food included – and taking that same flight including an all-inclusive resort for 7 days.
This means that you get free booze and food throughout your stay at no extra cost! But beware…
NOTE: Check out this post on the best beaches in Punta Cana at A Taste for Travel before visiting the Dominican Republic
All-Inclusive Hotels – DO: Sniff around on the internet for reviews
Annoyances in all-inclusive resorts can quickly turn into a vacation-destroying nightmare. They include extra fees – from spa care to fitness centre access to drinks packages to “premium drinks” access to “club access” to gratuities and tips. They also include loud and dusty renovations in your resort: most resorts will not give discounts or even warn the possible patrons of such disturbances. Go on review websites, make sure you read about the hotels, call the front desk and ask as many questions as you can. Don’t get caught!
All-Inclusive Hotels – DON’T: Forget the local population
All-inclusive resorts promise one thing that is both a blessing and a curse: you will not be bothered by the outside world. This means that getting a glimpse of whatever lies beyond the fences of your hotel will probably mean taking active steps! Rent a car; find out of there are tours organized; go have a beer at the local pub; check out the best spots on travel websites; go have a meal with the locals… there surely is at least a small town nearby!
All-Inclusive Hotels – DON’T: Stay at the resort during your whole stay!
Stepping out of your comfort zone is a must when travelling. The fact that you have a room at the all-inclusive resort doesn’t mean you can’t go spend a night or two in the closest city.
The best example? Cuba! All-inclusive resorts in Cuba are cheap, but so are hotels in Havana. And going to Cuba without visiting the bars in downtown Havana one evening is a waste of time!
All-Inclusive Hotels – DON’T: Choose a hotel that’s in the middle of nowhere
There are many of the all-inclusive resorts that choose their location because of the wonderful natural beaches of the area. However oftentimes these beaches can be quite far from the interesting sights the destination country has to offer.
This includes Egypt. Most of the resorts in the country are located in Sharm el-Sheikh, a good 6-hour drive from Cairo! So when you’re on a 7-day vacation, getting away from your resort can be a daunting task.
All-Inclusive Hotels – DO: Use the endless food and booze, and enjoy the beach and the pool
Vacations are made to relax. Travel is usually a tiring affair. Don’t go home more tired than you were when you left! Plus, some all-inclusive resorts really offer incredible luxury packages, wonderful sceneries, great cocktails, and some of the restaurants included in the best hotels truly are worth much more than what they cost. Having a Mai Tai on the beach towards the end of an afternoon after a nap and watching a sunset on a chaise longue in the company of your lover is reason to be ecstatic, and the fear of missing out on the local culture and colour shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying all of that plush luxury!
All-Inclusive Hotels – DO: Stay safe
While most of the destinations where all-inclusive resorts are safe, and if most of the safety warnings are somewhat exaggerated, remember to research the safety and security situation of the cities you plan to visit before heading out.