Are all inclusive resorts worth it?

All inclusive resorts are great if you want to have a stress free vacationing experience.  It’s pretty much a one stop shopping experience where your food, drinks, room and sometimes even activities are included. 

But are they really a good deal or would you be better off doing everything yourself?

If you value your time and your ideal vacation is care and worry free, all inclusive resorts can represent a great value. However, if you are the type of person who enjoys going on excursions and experiencing local culture outside the walls of your hotel, an all inclusive resort may not be worth it.

What is your ideal vacation?

You’ll first need to decide what you expect to get out of a vacation.  Are you the type of person who enjoys being lazy or do you enjoy being out and about?  Would you rather having nothing to worry about and have everything taken care of for you?  Or are you the type who wants to see and do everything and maximize their time when on vacation?  Knowing exactly what you want is going to determine your enjoyment level.  

Pros of all inclusive resorts

If your ideal vacation is laying on a beach drinking cocktails and never having to leave the resort for any reason, then all inclusive resorts might be perfect for you.  This is basically buying a cruise on land. You can eat and drink as much as you want, whenever you want, and not worry about a thing. You can even leave your wallet in the room so you don’t lose it because you’ll probably be given a wristband.    

Also, oftentimes activities are included in your rate as well.  This is great for people who know they’re interested in certain activities offered by these resorts since you’ll be able to utilize and maximize your enjoyment.  

If you’re a first time traveler, an all inclusive might be a great way to get your feet wet.  You’ll be going somewhere exotic but you won’t have to worry about any of the logistics. You’ll have a place to stay, eat, drink, and the staff will almost certainly speak English so language won’t be a problem either.  

Another great thing about all inclusive resorts is that they’re typically in tourist hotspots so getting to them is going to be fairly easy.  They may even have a shuttle service to pick you up from the airport to make your stay even more stress free. Also, since they’re in popular destinations, flying into that destination is also typically simple and usually well serviced by multiple flights.

All inclusives also cater to specific types of people which may be great.  Couples only resorts obviously means couples only. You won’t have to worry about kids causing a scene at dinner or a huge spring break party starting two doors down.  If you’re going to a family resort, you’ll see more family oriented activities with it catering to kids. Before going, you have a good sense of the type of visitors you’ll encounter so you know there won’t be too many surprises. 

Finally, a great thing about all inclusives is that there is no surprise with the bill at the end of your stay.  You know the amount you paid is all inclusive so outside of tips, you’re not going to be surprised. Knowing how much you’re going to spend is great for people who have a budget and really want to stick to it.  

Cons to all inclusive resorts

One of the biggest drawbacks of all inclusive resorts is that you are confined to the resort.  Obviously you can leave to eat and drink off the resort but you’ll have to pay for that separately and that defeats the whole purpose of an all inclusive.  

Also, you may not be interested in all the resort has to offer.  Having alcohol as part of the included rate is great but doesn’t add anything if you’re not a drinker.  If you don’t like water sports or don’t enjoy laying out on the beach, any activities offered in that regard isn’t going to push the needle in favor of you staying.  

If experiencing the local culture is more your style, you certainly won’t find it at an all inclusive resort.  The whole idea is to make vacationing easy and the resort is going to cater to as many people as possible. They don’t want to put off any of the guests with something they aren’t familiar with.  If they do decide to offer a “local” experience, it’ll probably be some sort of Disneyfied version of an experience.  

Another con is that you won’t be served local foods.  Sure, you’ll be able to find some take on a local food.  But expect it to be something that appeals to everyone. You aren’t going to find food that’s made from a small shop that serves cuisine that you’ve never seen or tasted before.  Expect to find food that almost everyone can eat, with a side of fries.  

Finally, all inclusives may not be as inclusive as you might think.  Their entire business model is built on maximizing profit by getting people to leave the resort.  The fewer guests there are eating and drinking at the resort means higher profits. They also know that since you’ve paid for your trip well in advance, you might be more willing to splurge on that expensive bottle of wine or that all day excursion to the vineyard.  If you have other interests outside of the resort, the numbers may not add up to be such a deal after all the add ons are factored in. 

Final thoughts

All inclusive resorts are fantastic for those wanting a hassle free experience where they can just unwind, relax, and never leave the resort.  However, with these new types of all inclusives popping up from wellness oriented to ski resorts, these aren’t just for those craving a beachside drink with an umbrella in it anymore.  Before committing to an all inclusive, make sure you read the details and know exactly what is and isn’t included in your base price. If you can make sure to steer clear of any of the add ons, an all inclusive resort could represent a great deal.  However, if you think you’re going to want to go on excursions or want to splurge on shopping, those costs are going to rise pretty quickly and the value will be lost.  

Ultimately, understand that all inclusive resorts are not just for budget minded travelers anymore.  They’re introducing new niches and with that, more opportunities to upsell products to boost the bottom line.  

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