All inclusive resorts are extremely popular – and for a good reason. Not only are they located in dreamy destinations (think white sand beaches and swaying palm trees), but they also come with huge perks to make your vacation as stress-free as possible.
But when booking an all inclusive vacation, how do you know what’s included with your room rate? In this article, we’ll share what you can expect to be included as well as a few things for which you’ll need to pay out of pocket.
What does an all inclusive resort include?
An all inclusive resort includes your accommodation, food and drink, activities, and entertainment. Some resorts may also include transportation, childcare, and excursions like scuba diving or golf.
The exact amenities will largely depend on where you’re staying. Different resorts offer different things – some resorts cater more to families while others are better suited for couples or adults.
Let’s dive into more specifics about what is typically included when you stay at an all-inclusive resort.
Food and Drinks
At the very least, all inclusive resorts should provide free food and drink. Most people think that meals are only served buffet-style, however many resorts have a diverse line-up of restaurants and dining options.
For example, some places have French, Japanese, Italian, or Mexican restaurants. Others might have a sports bar with pub food or a pool bar with pizza and sandwiches. While most dining is casual, resorts may have one or two upscale restaurants where you can celebrate special occasions (or simply indulge in a nice meal).
Water, soda, juices, coffee drinks, and alcohol are also generally included. You might have to pay extra for top-shelf liquor or bottles of wine at dinner, but you can usually go the entire trip without paying anything for your drinks.
Some resorts also offer in-room dining for free. So in the rare chance that you don’t fill up during dinner, you can always call room service for a late-night snack.
If you’re lucky enough to be at an all inclusive on the beach, then the chances are high that your resort includes water sports. In most cases, these are non-motorized water sports like kayaking or snorkeling.
Luxury resorts may offer scuba diving, water skiing, parasailing, or jet skiing as part of their package deal. However, you’ll likely end up paying for those activities if you’re staying in a budget or family-friendly hotel.
Sports and Equipment Rentals
Care for a round of billiards or a game of basketball? Then you’re in luck because most resorts have plenty of activities to keep you occupied throughout the day.
It’s not uncommon to stay in a resort with sports facilities like tennis, volleyball, or basketball courts. And most of the time, it’s completely free to rent equipment. Other places may loan out cards or board games as well.
Cabanas and Sun Loungers
If you’re spending a few days in Mexico or the Caribbean, then your hotel probably has a pool (or better yet, direct beach access!). Sun loungers and beach chairs should be available to all guests, so you lay out in the sun and work on your tan.
At some resorts, cabanas may also be available for free. However, they’re quite popular, so you better nab one fast before they all get reserved.
Most hotels, especially family-friendly ones, will plan different games and activities throughout the day. This can be pool aerobics, craft making, dance class, or yoga.
These activities are free, and the animation team/crew is usually tasked with making sure as many people as possible participate.
The nightlife scene at all inclusive resorts can be extremely fun. And they usually rotate throughout the week, so you can experience different entertainment throughout your stay.
Shows and performances vary with each resort. One night you might see a Michael Jackson impersonator, while another night is strictly reserved for live jazz! Resorts may also host other evening events like movie night, casino night, or themed dance parties.
Speaking of parties, most resorts also have an on-site nightclub for adult guests. There’s no entrance fee and the drinks are free, so you can always expect to have a fun time dancing the night away.
What is Not Included with an All Inclusive Resort?
Most people think that booking an all inclusive resort means they won’t have to spend a dime on vacation. And while that’s true in most cases, there are some things that will cost extra.
Motorized Water Sports
As mentioned early, not all water sports are included in your all inclusive rate. Things like boat trips, jet ski rentals, or parasailing experiences are typically add-on costs.
They can also be quite pricey, so count that into your budget if it’s something you want to do during your stay.
Basic cocktails, beer, and wine are usually included. But if you’re craving a certain brand of whiskey or an imported bottle of wine, you can expect to pay extra for those. At some hotels, even non-alcoholic drinks like cappuccinos or smoothies may also be excluded from your dining plan.
Spot something cool in the gift shop? Want to buy a sun hat from the beach vendor? Then make sure to bring money, because any knick-knacks or souvenirs will cost extra.
Most resorts will have an on-site spa. While it may be free to use the gym or dressing room, all services will typically cost extra. And even if you’re traveling in a cheaper country like Mexico or the Caribbean, you can expect to pay American prices for massages, body treatments, or hairstyling!
Some luxury resorts might offer flights or airport transfers as part of their nightly rate.
However, you should expect to pay for your own way to and from the hotel. It’s worth checking to see if they offer a complimentary shuttle, which can save you some money when booking.
If you don’t read the fine print, you might be surprised to find out that you’re paying an extra $30 5o $50 a day on resort fees.
Hotels usually justify these charges by providing free WIFI, gym access, or housecleaning. And even if you don’t use those amenities, you’ll still be required to pay for them.
If they aren’t listed on your booking, call the hotel before to ask if it’s charged during check out.
It’s very rare that an all inclusive hotel will cover your gratuities.
Therefore, you should budget extra cash to divide up between hotel staff members that you believe went above and beyond to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Consider $1 or $2 for bartenders and buffet works, $5 for al la carte servers, and $5 to $10 for concierge and housekeeping.
Staying at an all inclusive resort has its advantages, especially if you don’t want to plan where to eat or what to do each day. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy your well-deserved vacation time.
However, each resort is different, and it’s best to do your research beforehand before choosing a place for your all inclusive vacation.