13 Things All-Inclusive Resorts Won’t Tell You (But Should)
Don’t get stuck with a pricey, lacklustre vacation. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck at all-inclusive resorts.
1. All-Inclusive Resorts Aren’t Always Worth it
To find out if a price is fair, compare the all-inclusive fee to the standard room rate without the package. Some resorts budget $150 a day per person—or more—for food and drinks under the all-inclusive resorts deal. Ask yourself if you’ll really consume that much.
On a budget? Check out 10 Luxury Resorts You Can Actually Afford!
2. Resorts Are Rarely Truly All-Inclusive
Depending on the destination and package, you might get dinged for airport transportation and Wi-Fi access or have to pay for premium menu items like steak or choice liquor.
3. Watch Out for Renovations
Renovation plans aren’t usually mentioned in all-inclusive resorts’ marketing materials, so confirm with your travel agent (or risk dealing with noise and dust). “We’ll usually get a notification about construction upon booking,” says Flight Centre travel agent Megan Vonhone. If you aren’t using an agent, contact the resort directly.
4. Beware of Photo Editing
Scrolling through the endless images of pristine beaches and plush rooms online, you’d be forgiven for thinking every resort offers five-star accommodations at one-star prices. “Travel agents often have personal experience with these properties, so we can give you the lowdown,” says Vonhone. Check sites like TripAdvisor for un-retouched photos of all-inclusive resorts from real guests.
5. Book Responsibly
International corporations manage most all-inclusive resorts, meaning they rarely benefit the host country economically. Find resorts with Green Globe certification, which requires a commitment to social, economic and environmental responsibility.
6. The Discount Isn’t Always Worth It
When it comes to discounts for travelling at “off-peak” times, remember that there’s a reason why rates are much lower during, say, hurricane season. Insurance can cover the cost of a trip cancellation or interruption caused by a natural disaster, but in cases where your vacation is simply rained out, you can forget about getting a refund.
Be ready for anything. Here’s How to Avoid Disaster on All-Inclusive Vacations.
7. Tip Well
Even if your package says gratuities are included, employees at all-inclusive resorts usually depend on tips to make ends meet; unless the hotel forbids it, tip staff who keep you feeling pampered.
Don’t forget these etiquette rules about tipping from around the world!
8. Be Careful with What You Consume
Keep food-borne illness at bay by avoiding drinks with ice cubes and steering clear of lukewarm offerings that have been left out for hours at buffets. Traveller’s diarrhea strikes one in four sun-seekers, so it’s best to keep anti-diarrheal medication on hand.
To be extra safe, read up on these 8 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning.
9. All-Inclusive Resorts Can Be a Petri Dish for Germs
Outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease and legionnaires’ disease have made headlines recently. Check online reviews for information about the resort’s cleanliness.
10. Buy Some Health Care Peace of Mind
Opt for enhanced 24-hour medical coverage such as StandbyMD, which arranges doctor’s visits to your hotel room. Some resorts have in-house physicians, but beware of overcharging—the Canadian government has warned of aggressive sales tactics from private doctors in the Dominican Republic.
11. Pack Smart to Save Cash
Make sure you bring all necessities, especially sunscreen—you’ll need lots, and prices at the hotel shop can be double or triple what you’d pay at home.
12. Consult the Locals
You might be tempted to save a few bucks by researching and booking day excursions privately ahead of time, but it’s best to wait until you arrive, and rely on the concierge’s local knowledge.
13. Know What You’re Paying For
Luxury resorts and cheaper resorts often share the same stretch of beach. If you’re mainly visiting for the sun and sand and don’t care for fancy amenities, you’ll find better value with the budget option.
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