Love 'Em or Hate 'Em, Here's What You Get in All-Inclusive Hotels

See what you get (and don't) at all-inclusive hotels, and if they'd work for you

A great Caribbean beach at Sandals Grande St. Lucian hotel

Sandals Resorts 

 

What, Exactly, Is an All-inclusive Hotel?

An all-inclusive hotel (or all-inclusive plan) is a carefree form of hotel pricing. The guest pays one daily rate that includes everything: not just nightly room rate, but food and liquor; tips; activities; and more.

All-inclusive hotels have been popular since the 1960s, when Club Med's pioneering all-inclusives targeted the swinging singles crowd. From that time onward, all-inclusives have been looked down upon by many luxury travelers.

But times have changed. All-inclusives have gotten very nice. And many guests find that they not only like the all-inclusive hotel, but that this style of pricing is truly a "no worries" way to pay.

All-inclusives tend to be large resorts with a vast array of dining and recreational activities for guests to choose from. Since all-inclusives offer a vast array of activities and amenities, they work well for active guests. Many all-inclusives target honeymoon couples and the girl/guy getaway crowd. Some all-inclusives are for adults only. Some have separate pools (or even wings) for families. And some are completely family-focused. Still other all-inclusives permit kids only during a few family weeks per year.

In the past few years, another style of all-inclusive hotel has joined the scene: small, upscale boutique hotels with all-in-one pricing.

Will All-Inclusive Hotels Be Your Style? Find Out Here

You will probably like staying at an all-inclusive if: you dislike signing bills for everything you do at a hotel, and would prefer paying once; you're tired of paying hotel restaurant and bar bills; you like the idea of indulging in unlimited food and drink; you're ready for a resort where the staff is not angling for tips.

You may not be the ideal prospect for an all-inclusive if: you can't help finding the entire concept downscale or distasteful; you're not a big eater or drinker, and don't want to pay for AYCE; or you're an oenophile who's not going to drink all-inclusives' typical Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or Cava bubbly; tipping individual staffers is something you like to do.

In What Destinations Will You Find All-Inclusives?

All-inclusives proliferate in beach-resort areas where guests tend not to leave their hotel. The Caribbean and Mexico are bastions of all-inclusives. But "AIs" are found everywhere today, and are cropping up across the Mediterranean, Thailand, the South Pacific, and Brazil.

Some Really Famous Hotels Are All-Inclusive

Some of today's most famous, no-doubt-about-it luxury hotels are all-inclusive. Some examples of five-star (or nearly five-star) resorts that are all-inclusive: Cap Juluca on Anguilla, Half Moon on Jamaica, Buccament Bay on St. Vincents, Jade Mountain on St. Lucia. Most wellness retreats and safari lodges are all-inclusive, too. 

OK, So What's Actually Included in All-Inclusive Pricing?

The following aspects of hotel life, which are charged a la carte by conventional hotels, are included and unlimited with your room rate at all-inclusive hotels.

Your food and beverage is included: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks (at refined restaurants with menu service as well as buffets); resort bars, cafés, etc. (including pool and beach bars); room service (usually 24-hour); room minibar.

Your entertainment and activities are included: resort shows, nightclubs, clubs, lessons, contests, games, lectures; gym use; business center use; non-motorized water sports equipment such as kayaks, windsurfers, snorkel masks & fins, pool scuba class; kids' clubs; on-property shuttles such as golf carts

Little things that most hotels charge for (or charge a "resort fee" for) are included too: wifi, bottled water, local (and sometimes international) phone calls; beach chairs and umbrellas, pool loungers and towels.

All tips are included!

These Are Sometimes Included at All-Inclusive Hotels

These are sometimes included at all-inclusive hotels: van transportation from and to the airport; laundry; top-shelf liquor and high-end wine; super-deluxe menu options such as lobster, foie gras, and caviar; shuttles to a nearby attraction or town; use of the hotel spa's hydrotherapy circuit of pools and baths; some butler services, such as unpacking and packing.

Not Included at All-Inclusive Hotels (You Pay Extra):

Spa treatments (unless you're on a spa package); golf at the resort course (unless you're on a golf package); exclusive dining arrangements, such chef's table, wine cellar, table for two on the beach; motorized water sports such as jet-skiing; cabanas and beach beds; scuba diving (unless it's an island resort which may offer a few dive son the house); babysitters; personal trainers; off-property excursions and tours.

 

Hot Hotel Trend: All-Inclusive Hybrids, or Semi-Inclusives

Here's a hospitality trend that shows how popular all-inclusive pricing has become. Today, many luxury resorts with a la carte pricing also offer an all-inclusive rate, making these hotels halfway to all-inclusive status. 

All-inclusive Hotels Featured Here on TripSavvy

Only 11 rooms in a former Rockefeller lodge, The Point in upstate New York; in Miami; Carillon Miami Wellness Resort; Parrot Cay by COMO, a private island devoted to fitness; the 14-cottage Turtle Island FijiLe Blanc Spa Resort (TripAdvisor's #1 hotel in Cancun) and Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun; on the Riviera Maya, Mexico, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita; Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; the adults-only Sonesta Great Bay Sint Maarten.