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If you’re dreaming ahead of your next vacation, you might be considering an all-inclusive resort for your next big getaway.
All-inclusive resorts offer a lot of perks to travelers and there are all-inclusive resorts for just about every type of traveler out there, from budget-friendly family travelers to high-end luxury globetrotters.
If you’ve never stayed at an all-inclusive resort, though, how can you pick the best option for you?
Why Choose an All-Inclusive Resort in the First Place?
There are several reasons why you might choose an all-inclusive resort in the first place. Depending on your travel habits, it could be a very cost-effective means of travel for you, and all-inclusive resorts are often a great option for traveling families or groups who need something to do for everyone in their party.
You’re going to see the most overall savings at an all-inclusive resort if you’re either a luxury or a mid-range traveler. If you fall into one of these two categories, you’re likely going to save cash if all of your activities, meals, drinks and accommodations are bundled.
If, however, you’re already a budget traveler, you might find that an all-inclusive resort is more expensive. If you stay in budget accommodations, look for budget eats and mostly enjoy free activities, then an all-inclusive resort likely isn’t going to save you cash.
Regardless of your budget, though, one of the perks of choosing an all-inclusive resort is that, once you’re there, you’re there. Whatever you want to do (in general) will be free. You don’t have to worry about running up a huge tab at the bar on a whim, because the drinks are free. You don’t have to worry about the cost of taking an extra dance class or getting dessert — It’s. all. free.
Again, regardless of your budget, this can be a perk for most travelers, as not worrying about extra costs can allow you to sit back, relax and enjoy your travel as much as possible.
And lastly, if you’re traveling as a family (especially as a multi-generational family) or as a group, choosing an all-inclusive resort (as long as it’s the right resort) will ensure everyone has something to do and enjoy the entire length of your trip.
There’ll be no juggling itineraries or trying to squeeze in activities for everyone because everyone can just do whatever they want the entire time, all safely within the confines of the resort.
Pick an All-Inclusive Resort That Fits Your Travel Style
Not all all-inclusive resorts are going to be a good fit for every traveler, though, so how can you pick the all-inclusive resort that’s right for you?
It does all come down to the individual research, but in general, here are some things you can expect.
Family and multi-generational travelers will have no problem finding an all-inclusive resort, as there are simply so many resorts that brand themselves as family-oriented.
Some of the most popular all-inclusive resort brands for family and multi-generational travelers include Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts (with one location currently in Punta Cana and another scheduled to open in Riviera Maya this year); Beaches Resorts and Royalton Resorts (both brands with locations all across the Caribbean); and Club Med (the brand’s only U.S. property, Club Med Sandpiper Bay, is particularly family-friendly).
Don’t forget, though — all-inclusive resorts aren’t limited to beach locales. One of the most luxurious and iconic all-inclusive resorts in the Northeast is very family-friendly. Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley is all about offering outdoor activities to the adventurous family, all included with your stay.
If it’s a fun friend trip you’re after, there are some brands that are more suited to this type of travel as well, offering more of an adult focus and a party-like atmosphere (though some still offer a few perks for the kiddos, too). Check out the Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts properties, Riu and Meliá-branded properties and Breathless’s all-suite resorts.
Lastly, if it’s a romantic trip, such as a honeymoon or babymoon, that you have in mind, you’re going to want an environment that’s a little different from all of the above, with lots of private spaces, romantic dining opportunities and a high-end spa. Often, you can find these kinds of experiences done best at stand-alone properties. Some favorite, all-inclusive resorts for a truly romantic time include Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia, The Caves in Jamaica and Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada.
Related: How to Find Last Minute Travel Deals
Compare All-Included Amenities
Before you pick your resort, though, look into the various amenities and see just what the resort is including when it says “all-inclusive.”
You may get three square meals a day, but what about snacks? Cocktails? Top-shelf liquor?
Are activities included, from windsurfing classes to on-property parties? Do all-inclusive guests enjoy special on-property perks, such as golf cart transport between venues (remember, some of these resorts can be huge and you might not want to walk all the way from your room to the beach)?
If the details aren’t listed in the fine print, don’t be afraid to reach out to the resort or your travel agent and ask questions.
Consider a Resort’s Size and Location
Additionally, before picking the all-inclusive resort for your next vacation, consider the resort’s size and location, as well as your expectations for the trip.
If you’re traveling to a destination and have no desire to see the local culture, food scene or history, and you just want to lie on the beach the entire trip, then a resort’s location might not matter to you. All you need is the resort itself.
If you do want to explore the local scene, you might want to get a resort that either offers transport into town or that’s located within walking distance of town.
Do you want a more exclusive feel and more personalized service? Then you might want to go for a resort on the small side.
Want all the amenities you could ever ask for, including all the fun activities, and don’t mind walking a half-mile to get to them? Then go with the biggest and most tricked-out resort you can find.
Getting the Best Deal on an All-Inclusive Resort
Once you’ve narrowed down a few all-inclusive resorts you might like to stay at, don’t just book with the resort directly right away. Shop around a bit. Check the deals you can get with sites like Hotwire and Priceline if you bundle your airfare with your stay.
Bottom line — do your research. If you do, you’ll have an amazing all-inclusive resort experience.
You might also be interested in: Our 8 Favorite All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S.