All Inclusive – Do You Get Your Money’s Worth?

Many resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and other beach destinations tend to require that you purchase all-inclusive packages that cover all of your meals and drinks for the entirety of your stay. While there are plenty of reasons that all-inclusive resorts are nice, we tend to think that it really favors the resort more than the people who stay there. A lot of it depends on your vacation style and whether the resort offers all of the variety that you are looking for.

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Resorts Along the Beach

Generally speaking, we prefer not to do all-inclusive plans for several reasons:

  1. We like to eat where the locals eat and not just sit at the resort all day and all night, so we feel like we’re throwing money away if we leave the resort to enjoy a local restaurant.
  2. We’re not big eaters.  Under normal circumstances, we’ll split meals or even just share appetizers rather than sitting down and eating an entire meal to ourselves. That means that giant buffets or full course dinners are overkill for what we’ll end up eating.
  3. It’s just the two of us so even if though we don’t track everything that we’re spending on a trip, we have a budget and pay attention to the prices that we’re paying for meals.
  4. You feel the pressure to get your money’s worth, so you end up eating and drinking more than you should or would normally do.  The last thing you want to do while you’re sitting at the beach is to put on a few pounds.
  5. The only activities included in the ones that we have seen are non-motorized activities, which generally aren’t expensive anyway. We tend to find the more interesting things that we want to do are not part of the all-inclusive package that the resort offers.
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Sitting on the Beach

With all that said, we’ve done all-inclusive plans a couple of times.  When we went to the Dominican Republic, we didn’t have a choice, all of the resorts that we looked at were all-inclusive.  On the flip side, there really weren’t any local restaurants near the resort at Punta Cana, so staying at the resort was perfectly fine.  The other thing that is nice about the all-inclusive plans is the alcohol.  When we’re on vacation and don’t have to drive anyplace, we’re going to have a good time and part of that is having a few drinks, so not having to worry about that expense is kind of nice.  Again, though, we don’t want to over-drink, so it is a balancing act of not feeling like you have to have one more because “you’ve already paid for it”.  The other time we did the all-inclusive was actually the last time we went to Cabo a few years ago.  We did three days of all-inclusive and four days on our own.  That allowed us to go to the theme nights, eat and drink at the resort for a few days and then let us hit the restaurants on the beach and in town for the rest of the trip.

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Dos Mai Tai’s at the Pool Bar

Regardless of what you think of all-inclusive resorts, chances are you’ll end up staying at one during one of your trips. If you have to stay at an all-inclusive resort, try to take advantage of the amenities without overindulging unnecessarily. The prices of all-inclusive resorts tend to be fairly expensive, but don’t assume that you won’t have other expenses or want to do things outside of the resort, so be sure to plan your budget accordingly.

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Parasailing in Mexico

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6 Replies to “All Inclusive – Do You Get Your Money’s Worth?”

  • Your thoughts on why you don’t do all-inclusive match mine. I’m 61 now and have NEVER stayed anywhere all inclusive, and don’t intend to. Then again we don’t do “resorts” so that makes it easy.

  • Though I wouldn’t want to spend all our vacation time there, we do have an all-inclusive (couples only) resort in Jamaica that we absolutely adore. When we go, it’s not a culture-seeking trip. It’s a “get waited on like kings and queens” type of experience that is just one of the many vacation styles we like (road trips, self-directed European touring, adventure travel small-group touring… and some we’ve yet to do, like a safari). The only thing that doesn’t interest us at all is ocean cruising. As far as the food/weight gain problem, I finally cracked it the last time we were in Jamaica. The resort happens to be well-suited for athletic types. I just worked out 2-3 times per day (sometimes on my own at their tropical, semi-outdoor gym, sometimes with their group fitness instructors) and I didn’t gain a pound!

    • We tend to go to Cabo when we just want to sit around and do nothing :). We have no interest in ocean cruising either. Too many people crammed into a small space. We have never been to Jamaica, but we have considered it several times. Sounds like you found a great resort :). We do a lot of walking when we travel, usually don’t have an issue with gaining too much weight. Maybe a pound or two.

  • If we’ve been traveling around for a while, I love to end the trip with a few easy days – preferably on a beach(!) just relaxing and reading. On a few such occasions, we’ve booked an all inclusive. Usually by then, we’ve been on the go … visiting sights and local restaurants. To be honest, sometimes its great to have all the decisions made for you!!! No deciding where to go for lunch or dinner – I know … sad isn’t it ….. I couldn’t do a full holiday like that though.
    Regarding value – well we definitely don’t win that one … apart from the fact that we probably won’t avail of many of the activities, my husband doesn’t drink alcohol. But we can never split the package – its all or nothing …. so of course ‘all’ always wins! And food? I find that after a day or two my eyes shrink back into my head and I take less and less…
    We’ve stayed at resorts in the Far East, Morocco, Mexico, Croatia. We’ve never done a cruise – doesn’t appeal.

    • Definitely needs to be on a beach! We agree, that after traveling for a while and doing a lot during our trips, it is nice to just relax. Good point on having the decisions made for you :). We are not big eaters, so the food part we definitely do not win on. It would be great if you could split a package. That would make more sense for us. Ocean cruising doe not interest us – too many people in a confined space. We have done a few river cruises where the amount of people on board have never exceeded 30 or so.

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