In 2019 over 100,000,000 million Americans vacationed in various parts of the world. One of the most popular ways to spend your holidays is to spend a week or two at an all-inclusive resort. You book, pay in advance, and have everything taken care of for yourself and your family. It is truly the most worry-free experience you can have. Here we will share all the ins and outs of what to expect at an all-inclusive including some "secret" benefits and also some things to watch out for that may not be outlined in the resort descriptions that will end up costing you extra. This knowledge will allow you to take full advantage of all the actual "included" amenities available to you during your well-deserved time away.
12. Many Resorts Will Upgrade Your Accommodations at Check-in
If you are heading to an all-inclusive celebration for a special occasion, don't be shy about letting them know. Upon check-in, advise the front desk staff about what you are celebrating and if they can upgrade you, they most certainly will. Although not guaranteed, resort management and staff are always happy to make YOU happy by making you feel special. Instead of spending the money in advance, this will allow you to see the sea for free.
11. Some Restaurants Are at a Surcharge
Most all-inclusive resorts have several dining options to choose from. Make sure to find out in advance of heading to the restaurant if there are additional charges for the restaurant as a whole or for any specialty dishes. This sort of information is usually shared at a resort welcome briefing which we highly recommend you attend to learn what's what at the resort. Again, leverage that special occasion card, if that applies to you. That may result in some extra special meals and services for you to enjoy.
10. A Drink By Any Other Brand May Cost you $$
Many all-inclusive resorts offer domestic alcohol as part of their regular offering. If you want a specialty cognac, brandy or tequila, it may come at a cost. This will also typically be disclosed to you at the Welcome Briefing and a list may also be found at the tour desk for your reference. Always ask before ordering. It will save you some embarrassment when you get the cheque for that round of drinks you ordered for the table and are not prepared to pay for it.
9. Water Sports
One of the wonderful pleasures of heading to an all-inclusive resort that's by the ocean is that you have access to several different types of water sports. Many resort descriptions will specify that "non-motorized" water sports are included like kayaking, pedal boats, and boogie boards. Typically, jet skis, catamarans, and other motorized sports are available to guests an additional charge. Know what the cost is, if any, BEFORE committing to using any water toys. You may find yourself with a room charge upon check-out that you were not expecting.
8. Free WiFi is Not Always Free
In today's society, WiFi access is as important during a sun holiday as sunscreen. Many all-inclusive resorts in many countries will advertise Free WiFi but there are typically restrictions. Sometimes free WiFi is only available in certain common areas of the resort and not in your room or by the beach. Make sure you get ALL the facts on that before you start surfing, FaceTiming or emailing. Data charges in some countries can be ridiculously expensive and you do not want to have a surprise $1,000 mobile bill waiting for you when you return home.
7. To tip or Not to Tip...
We have a tip for you in this regard. Especially if traveling to the Caribbean or third world country, the standards of living for the locals are very different than what you may be accustomed to back home. A dollar goes a much longer way and is usually greatly appreciated. Always be prepared with a bunch of $1 bills to hand out to waiters, bartenders, and other service staff. Always tip before you order the first time you meet a staff member so they will know that you are generous and will give you that extra bit of attention.
6. Spa Services
It may be obvious that a spa or wellness facility offers services at an additional charge. However, many all-inclusive resorts have Bonus Programs allowing you to redeem points or use credits towards these services. Sometimes this is not voluntarily disclosed to guests so please do not hesitate to ask about any discounts or freebies available to you. This can change from week to week so check with local staff before booking your services.
5. Beach Chairs and Towel Service
Most resorts offer free chair and towel service within the confines of the resort. Sometimes, the beach area is public and the palapas, towels and/or the beach chairs may be at an additional charge. Make sure you clarify this before dragging all your belongings to the beach and realize that you have to pay to soak up the rays comfortably.
4. Reserving Your Spot Poolside
If traveling during peak season, it may be difficult to secure a prime spot poolside if you stroll down past 10 am. Take turns with your fellow travelers and reserve your chairs for the day by placing your towel or other non-valuable belongings on the chair which is the universal way of telling others that "this seat is taken". And do this as early as you possibly can. Remember, however, to always be respectful. Do not "reserve" a chair if you're off property all day and do not reserve 6 seats for a family of 4 just to have options.
3. Pack Your Essentials From Home
Make sure you make your list and check it twice before heading to your all-inclusive holiday. Be prepared and bring all your essentials. Although most resorts will have a gift shop on the property, sunscreen, flip-flops, shaving cream, and bathing suits are typically extremely expensive and that's money you simply do not want to spend.
2. Get to Know the Locals Before Booking Your Excursions
Although intuitively you may want to book tours in advance of your arrival, sometimes it is best to get the lay of the land once you arrive. Talk to the hotel staff, the concierge, and the local representatives at the resort. Get to know them and they will typically be a great source of wisdom and offer insightful recommendations.
1. Be Cautious But Have Fun
Remember that you are not in Kansas anymore. Different countries have different laws, different standards and different ways of life. Embrace the flavor of a new culture. Always attend the Welcome Briefing upon arrival and find out everything you are entitled to and what to avoid. Relax, soak it all in and have a blast!!!!
About the Author
Elena Cortesi is a native Italian who has been living in Toronto, Canada for the past 46 years. Elena has an academic background in languages and writing and her career experiences include various marketing and managerial roles in travel, technology, jewelry, health and nutrition, and various entrepreneurial endeavors. Writing is her passion; a passion that allows her to share the written word to the world through various forms of media.
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