6 Things You Should Know Before Booking At An All-Inclusive Resort

All-Inclusive resort

While I’m by no means an expert on all-inclusive packages or holidays having only done this twice, I wish I’d knew a little more about this type of vacation before I booked my trip in my I’m-exhausted-I-need-vitamin-D-and-free-cocktails frenzy. My vacation was amazing, mind you – but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been even better.

Let’s see what I overlooked.

All-Inclusive resort

Top Travel Tips For Travellig To All-Inclusive Resorts

1. Children vs Adults

That would be my biggest mistake. I was so excited to go on vacation that I completely forgot about the resort’s policy regarding families. I don’t have kids and even though I’m fairly tolerant of children in daily life, it wasn’t until after a few days by the pool that it got to me.

It’s one thing to have one kid yelling on the bus ride home, it’s an entirely different one to have 31 of them wailing at once, each for a different reason. I know some parents will want to throw me (rather big) rocks — but the truth is, I really don’t care for pools with questionable yellow spots and screaming infants. Ain’t nothing soothing about that.

My bad. I really should have booked an adult-only resort. Lesson learned!

All-Inclusive resort

2. Buffet, A La Carte, Or…

Trust me when I say that when you don’t have anything else on your plate (pun intended), eating takes a whole new importance. You will overeat at meal times, and think about food in between meal times. Especially if you booked in a resort that has several à la carte restaurants or a delicious buffet.

One thing to keep in mind is that à la carte restaurant tend to fill up quite fast and reservations are mandatory — check with the front desk upon arrival to make sure you get a spot, especially if you’re visiting in high season. What I particularly like about these restaurants is the possibility to taste some of the best local specialties and new flavors. Yum!

Buffets tend to be crowd-pleasers and quite varied in order to appeal to the different nationalities of visitors. The first resort I ever went to, in Tenerife, had a slight German-English twist to a rather traditional Spanish menu, and not once was I disappointed. The food was not as great in Cuba, but that was to be expected – although it was by no means as bad as people say.

All-Inclusive resort

3. Think Outside The Box Resort

While I definitely see the appeal in getting up at ridiculous o’clock and tanning all day, it’s also fun to get out and explore a bit. See what the locals are like, marvel at the traditional architecture, and get a taste of the daily life. You never know what you will discover along the way, be it a delicious restaurant or a lifelong friend.

There is always a variety of things to do outside the resort – hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, village exploring and museum hopping. Impossible to be bored!

All-Inclusive resort

4. Size Matters

Well of course it does. But that’s not what I meant! You naughty people.

The size of the resort can either be an advantage or a hassle – I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m on vacation, walking more than 1 minute to where I need to be is nothing short of unacceptable. Laziness is my number 1 rule when I don’t have deadlines (and also when I have a margarita in hand). If I realize I forgot sunscreen in the room by the time I get to the pool — 5 minutes later — I will be too lazy to go get it and get badly sunburned and then complain about said sunburn.

Make sure to have a look at the resort’s map before you book, and pinpoint where the main buildings are.

All-Inclusive resort

5. Read The Fine Print

Is the WiFi free? Are all meals included? Are taxes included? Are there activities on site?

Not all resorts are the same. They all have different rules, privileges, and quirks that make it impossible to have expectations. Make sure you ask about all these  details (which can seem quite trivial at first but can quickly ruin a vacation) before you hand out your credit card. You will only have a more relaxed vacation!

Update: Thanks to my reader Lisa, I realized I forgot to mention an important point: gratuities. Make sure you know exactly what is and what isn’t included in the purchase price. I strongly suggest picking resorts where tips are included, for two reasons: no awkwardness, and no need to carry your wallet!

All-Inclusive resort

6. Just Do It

You know how some people will say “Ugh, you’re going to a resort? What the hell is wrong with you?”

F*ck ’em.

While I will always support the value of exploratory travel, out-of-comfort-zone adventures, sometimes, all you need is to leave your brain at the customs for a couple of days, and not think about anything other than beer and tanning. And that’s perfectly fine. Plus, as mentioned earlier, depending on where you go, you can even get to do both exploratory travel and lazy vacation!

What are your tips for booking all-inclusive packages and vacations? What is the ONE thing that is non-negotiable for you?

CategoriesTravel Tips

Marie is a native Montrealer trying to balance a deep love for her hometown and an unquenchable thirst for travel and discovery. She has been to more than 36 countries, lived abroad in both France and the U.K., and is always on the lookout for authentic experiences wherever she travels -- especially if it involves chocolate.