All-inclusive resort tips for the best trip ever
Heading to an inclusive resort is the best of both worlds: you get to go on an amazing holiday while someone else takes care of all the little details. But how do all those little details work, exactly? And how can you, as the guest, have an epic experience? As an entertainment director for more than a decade, I’ve gotten an insider look into nearly every aspect of these types of hotels, which means I know a few things that you’ll definitely want to know. My job may sound like a 24/7 party, but it’s a lot of work too. I joke that my ‘nightlife’ fills my entire day. But my lack of work-life balance is your gain, since my experience translates into all-inclusive resort tips that will help you have a blast and give you the most bang for your buck. Because let’s be honest, if you’re going to an all-inclusive resort, you’re spending a lot of money – and you deserve to get what you’re paying for.
Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of guests, and there are some common mistakes people make – from the type of package they book to what they do (and don’t do) when staying at an all-inclusive. So memorise this advice because it can help you have the best holiday of your life.
Thinking that ‘all-inclusive’ means everything is included
Despite the title of ‘all-inclusive,’ most all-inclusive resorts don’t include everything. While the specifics will vary depending on the resort, your membership status and the package you booked, common exclusions include transportation to and from the airport, spa treatments, premium alcohol and Wi-Fi in your room (although it’s generally provided for free in common areas). Other amenities may be partially included. For instance, water sports may be included in your rate, but you might have to pay extra to rent motorised equipment like jet skis. While you’ll be told about extra charges when booking a service or activity, if you’re not really paying attention, you could end up with quite the surprise when you see the final bill at the end of your stay. This is also true of all-inclusive cruises.
Do this instead: read the fine print of your package before you arrive (and ideally before you book), and be sure to ask staff if you’re unsure whether something’s included. You could easily add an extra 10 per cent or more to your bill if you don’t. You should also always ask whether resort fees – which can range from $25 to $100 a day, depending on the company – are included.
Not researching the resort before you go
Even within the same chain, every all-inclusive resort is different – from the culture and dining to the amenities and excursions – and the time to discover those differences is not the day you get there. Knowing what to expect can help you have a better experience, since you’ll know what you want to do and can jump on reservations quickly, as well as know what to pack for the weather and available activities. It’s also an important part of managing your expectations. Sometimes we have guests show up expecting everything under the sun and then are disappointed when all their expectations aren’t met – things they would have realised if they’d researched the resort first.
Do this instead: Take an hour or so to check out the resources on the resort’s website, and go to online forums for that resort so you know what the can’t-miss things are. Come prepared with a list of activities, foods, cultural experiences and shows that you’re most excited about. Upon checking in, you can also talk to the concierge, entertainment director or other employees for their personal recommendations and for help making reservations.