Winter is upon us and that means a winter vacation for many of us. If Mexico or the Caribbean is in your travel plans, chances are you are staying at an all-inclusive resort. If you’ve never stayed at one, here are 10 things you may not have thought to ask or may not know.
According to Dictionary.com, the definition of all-inclusive is “including everything or everyone.” All-inclusive resorts are for everyone, however, some cater to adults only, some more to singles than couples, and some are perfect for families, so be sure to do your research. They also don’t include everything, but they do include most of everything you could wish for. Read on for specifics.
Yes. All all-inclusive resorts include meals and beverages, including alcoholic beverages. Some include 24-hour snacks and 24-hour liquor as well. However, some resorts may charge an additional fee for fine cuts of meat (e.g., filet mignon) and lobster — but choosing those items is totally up to you.
Probably not. Just like any restaurant, resort restaurants have certain days and hours they are open. Some may require reservations, and some may not. For example, all Teppanyaki restaurants require reservations, as there are limited seats around the Teppanyaki grill. As for reservations, some resorts allow them to be made several days ahead, while some resorts require that you make them the day-of. Also, if you are vacationing with young children, be aware that some finer a la carte restaurants may have an age restriction. Last, but not least, some restaurants are exclusively for guests staying in the premier section of the hotel. If in doubt on what’s open and what may need a reservation, just check with your hotel’s concierge.
Not always — it depends on where you are staying. At the majority of all-inclusive resorts, there is at least one buffet restaurant that permits you to pop in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without having a reservation — great for families. The more budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts tend to have more (or all) buffet dining with theme dinners (Mexican, Italian, French) mixing it up on certain nights of the week. Other all-inclusive resorts have a la carte restaurants where you may — or may not — need reservations as mentioned above.
The house wine is always available and included with meals — and don’t be put off by the “house wine” as many resorts partner with well-known wineries to provide their house wines. Some restaurants may also have wine available by the bottle or upgraded wines available for an additional charge.
It depends on where you are staying. More budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts will serve local/house brands or familiar U.S. well/rail brands. The more upscale resorts may also — or only — serve top-shelf brands. Either way, they’re likely to have some type of your favorite spirit.
Again, it all depends on where you are staying. Many resorts have nightclubs that stay open until 2 am. Some resorts, like RIU Hotels and Resorts, have liquor dispensers in the rooms, so you can have select liquors 24 hours a day. Other resorts, such as AMResorts (Zoetry, Dreams, Secrets) have 24-hour room service and minibars that are stocked daily with beer. And still, other resorts (Barcelo Hotels and Resorts) have 24-hour snacks. If eating and drinking at any time are important to you, be sure to read the hotel information, the hours that the bars are open, and any additional amenities the resort — or your room — may have.
The things that aren’t included are all optional — spa services, gambling at the casino, sightseeing tours, romantic dinners on the beach, and motorized watersports, such as scuba diving and waterskiing (non-motorized watersports are usually included). If you’re a golfer, some resorts may include golf greens fees but may charge a mandatory cart fee.
You should definitely tip for those things that you pay extra for — spa services, tours, etc. You don’t need to tip at restaurants or bars, or anything that is included, but some people do if they feel that they’ve gotten exceptional service. But then again, some resorts request that you don’t tip for included items. Again, if you have questions, ask the concierge.
So, when it comes to an all-inclusive resort, it’s important to know what is important to you. If you eat at fine restaurants and drink fine wines at home, then you’ll want to look for a resort that caters to gourmands, like AMResorts (Zoetry, Secrets, Dreams) or Karisma/Azul/El Dorado resorts, which offer gourmet all-inclusive restaurants and premium/top-shelf alcohol. But, if you just want to relax on the beach, enjoy delicious Mexican food and refreshing cervezas, and like the variety of buffet restaurants, then maybe look at Barcelo/Occidental Hotels and Resorts, Catalonia Resorts, and Oasis Resorts. Or, if you fall somewhere in the middle, then look to El Cid Resorts, Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts, and Palace Resorts. There is literally an all-inclusive resort that’s perfect for you, your special someone or family, and your vacation budget.
Lori is a content writer at Sun Country Airlines. When it comes to what she loves most about Sun Country, it’s all about the affordability and nonstop flights from MSP (oh, and the ease of Terminal 2). Her favorite destinations are the ones she hasn’t been to yet, but can’t wait to explore, including Portland, Austin, and Santa Rosa.