2 Pros and Cons of Staying at an All-Inclusive Resort

If you’re in the process of planning an upcoming getaway, you may have your heart set on a tropical destination where you spend your days lounging by a pool, trying great restaurants, and escaping the daily grind. When it comes to resorts like these, you have choices. You could pay for a traditional resort where your initial fee covers your room cost only. Or you could book at an all-inclusive resort where everything, from food to drinks to entertainment, is included in your initial price.

If you’ve never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before, or if you’re not sure it’s the right choice for you, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pro No. 1: There are no surprise costs

Travel costs can be tricky to budget for because surprise expenses can come up throughout your trip. You might pay extra to take advantage of certain activities at the hotel you’re staying at. And if there’s a night when you’re in the mood for an extra cocktail, it’s going to cost you.

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The nice thing about all-inclusive resorts is that there are no extra or hidden costs. When you pay the fee to book your room, that fee includes everything. Some of these resorts even ban tipping, so the price that goes on your credit card upfront is the total price you’ll pay for your trip. That could make your vacation more enjoyable and less stressful.

Pro No. 2: You have an opportunity to try new foods and activities

If you’ve never tried paddleboarding before, you may be hesitant to give it a go if an hour is going to run you $62. Similarly, you may be tempted by certain resort cocktails, but at $18 a pop, you’re taking a pretty big risk on a drink you might hate.

The nice thing about all-inclusives is that you can try anything you want without the pressure. Aren’t loving an activity? Ditch it. It’s not like you paid extra. Don’t like your drink? Get another.

Of course, in the context of food and drink, you don’t want to intentionally be wasteful. But you can try new things with less pressure.

Con No. 1: You could end up overpaying if you’re not a big eater or drinker

The cost of staying at an all-inclusive resort varies, depending on your destination, your travel dates, and the type of property you choose. But generally speaking, all-inclusive resorts are more expensive than comparable properties where you book your room and pay for extras a la carte. And if you’re not a big eater or drinker, you may find that a traditional resort is more cost-effective than an all-inclusive.

Let’s say it costs $250 a night to book a room at a standard resort on your island of choice, while the all-inclusive down the beach is $450 a night. Even if you pay $20 for breakfast, $25 for lunch, $45 for dinner, and $30 for two cocktails, that’s still $120 total, which is less than the $200 upcharge you’re looking at for the all-inclusive option.

Con No. 2: You may not be tempted to explore your surroundings, which could mean missing out on different experiences

When you’re paying a premium for an all-inclusive resort, you may be inclined to stay planted there for the duration of your trip. But that could mean skipping the chance to get off the beaten path and book an activity outside of a resort that might be amazing.

Also, when food is included in your stay, it’s hard to justify the cost of paying for a meal elsewhere. But that could mean missing out on the opportunity to sample local cuisine.

Is an all-inclusive resort right for you?

If you’re not sure whether to book an all-inclusive resort or not, do your research. Compare the cost of an all-inclusive to a traditional hotel and see what sort of gap you’re looking at. If it’s a multi-hundred-dollar difference per night, you may decide that a regular hotel makes more sense for your personal finances unless the all-inclusive really offers many more activities and amenities you know you’ll take advantage of.

Another option? Talk to a travel agent with experience in the area you’re looking to visit. They may be able to walk you through the differences between all-inclusives in the area and regular hotels so you can make a more informed decision.

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