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The Pros and Cons of All-Inclusive Resorts

We’ve all seen the commercials. A gorgeous couple frolicking on a white sand beach by day, followed by an elegant candlelight meal at night, along with quick shots of them parasailing, playing beach volleyball and happily shopping for local trinkets. That’s right. It’s an ad for an all-inclusive resort. They promise a complete vacation experience for one up-front price and the freedom to enjoy yourself without worrying about the cost of every little detail — perfect for a limited vacation budget.

If you’ve ever wondered if these resorts are the real deal or too-good-to-be-true, we’re about to find out. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of all-inclusive resorts.   drinks on the beach at an all-inclusive resort

Locations

Pros

Many all-inclusive resorts are located in the Caribbean, where sun and fun are the name of the game. Most are protected and secure, so there’s little concern about typical vacation crimes, such as pick-pocketing.

Cons

You won’t get to experience much of island life outside of the resort setting. If you love to explore and discover new areas on your own, the all-inclusive experience might feel like it’s lacking authenticity.

Activities

Pros

Depending on what you’re interested in and who you’re traveling with, you can find resorts tailored to your preferences. There are resorts catering to singles, couples and families, among other distinctions, all with activities to match.

Cons

While you’ll find plenty of activities that fall within the inclusive price, not all activities are included. You’ll want to review what’s included in advance, and factor any additional costs into your vacation budget. Additionally, the most popular free activities fill up fast, so you may not get to do everything you want.

Food & Drink

Pros

You won’t go hungry staying at an all-inclusive resort. Meals, drinks and snacks are available throughout the day and night, and you don’t have to worry about carrying your wallet with you, because they’re all included.

Cons

There’s no doubt the food and drinks are plentiful, but if it’s gourmet cuisine you’re after, you probably won’t find it. Flavors and preparation methods tend to be somewhat basic to appeal to a wide range of guests. Additionally, since a lot of the food is served buffet-style, it can be challenging to accommodate food allergies or dietary restrictions. 

Service

Pros

Service is almost always helpful, friendly and readily available. The resorts are often the area’s largest employers and the employees want to be sure you have a great experience you’ll tell others about. Also, be sure to find out the resort’s tipping policy. Some all-inclusive resorts don’t allow employees to accept tips, while others do. Tipping is optional, of course, But if employees at your resort are allowed to receive tips, doing so at the beginning of your stay can elevate service to the next level.

Cons

If resort employees are compensated for upselling you on additional excursions or a la carte dining, they may try to do so enthusiastically. If you’re someone who has a hard time saying no to sales pressure, you can end up spending more than you planned.

Convenience

Pros

If you don’t have the time or energy to plan a complete vacation, you can book an all-inclusive resort vacation in just minutes and not give it another thought until it’s time to leave for the airport.

Cons

As far as convenience goes, there really aren’t any downsides to the planning process. It’s just about as simple as vacation planning gets.

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