It’s a question that gets asked often: What is an all-inclusive resort, exactly? On the surface, the answer is simple. All-inclusive resorts are properties in vacation destinations where most of the main elements of the trip are pre-paid. However, not all all-inclusive resorts are the same, and some packages include more things than others.
All-inclusive resorts are mostly found in Mexico and specific islands in the Caribbean. There are not really any tropical all-inclusive resorts in the United States (including Hawaii).
Like traditional hotels and resorts, all-inclusive resorts have options for different tiers of rooms and suites for guests to choose from, which vary in size and have a range of amenities included.
What do all-inclusive resorts typically include? Every resort is different, but as a baseline, all-inclusive resorts include:
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and soft drinks
- Some activities and entertainment
While the name says “all-inclusive,” that doesn’t mean that everything is included. Depending on the resort, things like spa treatments, golfing, water sports, and other excursions could cost extra. Alcoholic beverages might cost extra, too. Some resorts might offer free transport to and from the airport, and some might provide it for an additional fee. Tips and gratuities are sometimes included in the all-inclusive package.
We’ve broken down the four tier levels of all-inclusive resorts, including entry-level, mid-level, luxury, and ultra-luxury, to give you a better understanding of what to expect when choosing a resort.
Entry-level all-inclusive resorts bring the whole family together to enjoy a host of activities on the property. Many offer kid’s clubs for ages 3-12 to enjoy arts and crafts, water games, and more in a fully supervised setting. Parents, couples, and friends traveling together can relax poolside with a cocktail in hand or spend the day at the beach or spa, with the option to rent out non-motorized water sports equipment for a predetermined amount of time included in the package price.
Several on-site restaurants make this an excellent option for those looking for variety, with a limited number of times each guest can eat ala carte. Domestic alcohol brands are generally included in the package price, with an option to upgrade at an additional fee.
Entry-level resorts are often on a large, expansive property as they cater to many different types of travelers. Guests should expect to spend some time walking to get from their guest rooms to the property amenities. Dining, activity, and spa reservations should be made in advance.
Examples of entry-level resorts include Sunscape Resorts, Barcelo Resorts, and Riu Resorts.
Mid-level all-inclusive resorts are still very much family-friendly; however, there may be fewer dining and activity options available
to elevate the experience and focus on the quality of the services offered. Guests can enjoy unlimited ala carte dining, 24-hour room service, and an upgraded beverage package. Non-motorized water sports equipment is included and has no time constraints. In addition, rooms are often more spacious than entry-level resorts and include a soaking tub with a separate shower.
Examples of mid-level include Dreams and Azul Resorts.
Luxury all-inclusive resorts are usually adults-only resorts and make an excellent option for honeymooners and those looking for a romantic escape. Guests will enjoy premium beverage packages along with a wide variety of restaurants that focus on top-notch cuisine experiences in addition to five-star quality spa treatments.
Examples of luxury resorts include Secrets, El Dorado, and Unico 2087.
Nickelodeon Resorts are unique in that they cater to families, offering suites that sleep up to five guests with kid-friendly dining and activity options, without sacrificing the luxury experience.
Ultra-luxury all-inclusive resorts cater to adults only, where guests will experience a boutique-like retreat that focuses on the highest level of personal service. These resorts focus on spa and wellness, refined cuisine and beverage options, and enriching experiences.
Both luxury and ultra-luxury resorts included all equipment rentals, plus golf and catamaran trips.
An example of an ultra-luxury resort is Zoetry Resorts.
Those traveling internationally will need to get a COVID-19 viral test before returning by air into the United States, regardless of vaccination status. The test must be conducted three days before the flights departure and must provide proof of vaccination to the airline for those who are fully vaccinated. Those who are not fully vaccinated must have the test conducted no more than one day before the flight’s departure.
Fortunately, many hotels offer a hassle-free solution that provides logistical ease and peace of mind: on-site COVID testing. Several tests are available at varying prices; however, fees are often waived when you upgrade your room or book at a higher tier level.
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