All-inclusive vacations are always popular choices because they offer value and a range of resort options. “A true all-inclusive includes all meals and all beverages—yes alcohol is included—plus activities, shows, non-motorized watersports, taxes, and gratuities,” says Sue Martinez, a AAA travel advisor in Dayton, Ohio. “You pretty much know the cost of your trip because almost everything is included in the up-front price.”
The non-motorized watersports that are included generally include kayaks, Hobie Cat, boogie boards, and paddleboarding. Keep in mind there are a few items that aren’t included: tours, spa treatments, and some motorized watersports such as parasailing, jet-skiing, and scuba diving, says Martinez. She says some all-inclusive resorts, such as Sandals and Beaches, do include snorkeling and scuba diving tours.
Sandals Royal Curaao. Photo courtesy of Sandals Resorts International
In some cases, you can reap extra value from an all-inclusive. “If you are a certified diver, daily diving is included along with all the equipment at no additional cost at both Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, which is a huge added value,” says Beth Skypeck, platinum-certified Sandals specialist and AAA travel advisor in Portland, Maine.
Skypeck says diving in the Caribbean can be more than $200 for just a single dive. “Imagine how much value you receive when choosing an all-inclusive resort that includes diving so that guests can explore the ocean every single day of their vacation if they wanted to. If you aren’t a diver, you can go snorkeling, wind sailing, take out the kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats—you name it—all at no additional cost,” explains Skypeck. The same thing rings true for golf. “Green fees come up a lot with my clients—and they are included at all championship courses owned by Sandals Resorts,” she clarifies.
Sandals newest all-inclusive resort is Sandals Royal Curacao, which is a 44-acre paradise in a lush setting. It checks all your boxes if you want golf, water sports, and a dreamy infinity pool with ocean views. You’ll never go hungry with Royal Curacao’s 11 culinary concepts, including eight restaurants, seven of which are new to Sandals and only available at this resort. There are also three beachside food trucks and 13 bars.
The many options for all-inclusive vacations can be overwhelming. To find the all-inclusive that's a good fit for you, consider budget, lifestyle, or location.
Some resorts offer sit-down, waiter, and menu service where others have more buffet-style meals. It’s a personal preference that may impact the price you pay. “Like anything, you get what you pay for. The higher-quality food, table service, ala carte restaurants, and amenities are more expensive,” explains Martinez.
For resorts with restaurant choices, you don’t have to leave the resort to find places to dine. There are on-site choices that offer a mix of culinary choices. “At an all-inclusive, there are no prices on the menus so you can order what you want without worrying about cost,” adds Martinez. And, another perk is that you don’t have to worry about tipping because tips are included, too. “However, I usually carry small denomination bills to tip extra,” says Martinez.
Nickelodeon Hotels. Photo courtesy of Resorts Riviera Maya lobby
If you’re traveling with children, you should book a family resort that boasts activities like a waterpark, Sesame Street or Nickelodeon characters, and a well-appointed kids’ club, which can keep children safely supervised while parents enjoy a quiet meal or spa treatments.
If you’re traveling as a couple, an adult-only resort is the way to go. Skip the too-lively kids at the pool and simply enjoy the tropical surroundings. “There are all-inclusive resorts for all adult lifestyles—LGBTQ, clothing optional, couples/adults only, for everyone, party-hardy, and wellness and health,” says Martinez.
Furthermore, there are small, intimate all-inclusive resorts and there are large 1,000-room resorts. “Asking questions and qualifying the clients lets me know which resorts to send them to,” she says. “Some of my favorite brands are Sandals, Beaches, Secrets, and Dreams.”
The Yucatan Resort Playa Del Carmen. Photo courtesy of Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen All-Inclusive Resort, Ta
Tamara Baldanza-Dekker, chief marketing officer at Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts says flights and airports may determine the best places to go. “If you’re trying to keep costs down, a major hub like Cancun may have more flight options and discounts,” she says.
If your vacation is a romantic, beach getaway in Mexico, look for seclusion and serenity. “All-inclusive hotels often cater to couples’ needs by offering privacy options, including adult pools, private swim-out suites and jetted tubs, plus romantic restaurants, world-class spas, and casinos,” says Nicole Tilzer, senior director of all-inclusive resort strategy for Hilton. For a couples’ getaway, consider The Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen All-Inclusive Resort, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. It's an adults-only resort near a private beach and offers only 60 guest rooms.