My first experience with an all-inclusive resort was a decade ago during a cold February in New York City. I was easy prey to this promise: a surprisingly low price for a trip to Cancún, which included airfare, four nights in a double room and meals in one of the three “exciting, international” restaurants.
What I got: a bland buffet; a dirty and crowded beach; and many extra charges. Although piña coladas were included, bottled water no. The only unexpected “extra” was the resort’s pornographic channel that spread on my TV when I arrived. I would have settled in for the cleaning service. Nowadays, everything included becomes high-level with the same kind of promise, but a better delivery. At the Royal Hideaway Playacar, Mexico, for example, a nightly rate starting at $ 850 per room includes meals from chef Sergi Arola, Spanish restaurant La Broche, Madrid’s Spanish restaurant, and diving lessons. You can find good deals at various price levels by asking yourself these questions:
I will use what is included?
If you plan to use everything a resort offers, even an expensive package can be a great value. Curtain Bluff, in Antigua, might seem expensive at $ 950 a night, but if you take advantage of the extra-scuba diving, water-skiing lessons, sailing and drinks-the resort is a bargain. And the big all-inclusive chains, which have improved their services, can be surprisingly accessible: I found a six-night stay for two in April at the Grand Lido Negril Resort & Spa, Jamaica, including the flight from Charleston, South Carolina; all meals; tennis; scuba diving; and laundry service, for $ 683 a night.
I want what is not included?
Find out if you want more than what the deal offers you. The Meliá Cabo Real, in Los Cabos, Mexico, is located next to a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II. Stay in a room with a view of the links for $ 460 a night in late February, and the all-inclusive rate offers everything except golf, which is $ 252 per round. If you’re going to play a few rounds, won’t staying in a real golf course end up costing less, even at a higher nightly rate? Definitely.
How big is the hassle to cash in? The all-inclusive appeal is lost if you have to spend time doing jockey for what was promised to you. To avoid the buffet in room 355 Caribe Club Princess, in Punta Cana, you have to queue before 3 pm to get reservations at one of the five restaurants. Other red flags: water sports that are in a different position; “unlimited” sports where equipment rental is extra; or be confined to nine holes of a course of hole 18. To avoid these unwanted scenarios, know what is included in the hotel before booking.