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 the hotel expenses that are usually on top of the room rate: 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.
Since then, all-inclusives have been looked down upon by many luxury travelers. But times have changed. All-inclusives have gotten really nice. And many of us find we like not only the hotel, but all-inclusive pricing's no-worries ease and freedom.
Will All-Inclusive Hotels Be Your Style?
All-inclusives tend to be large resorts with a vast array of dining and recreational activities for guests to choose from. 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.
You will probably like staying at an all-inclusive if: you dislike signing a bill 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 wine 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.
Some very exclusive and intimate boutique hotels are all-inclusive, too. Most wellness retreat 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.
• 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
• Group entertainment and activities (shows, clubs, lessons, contests, etc.)
• Non-motorized water sports equipment such as kayaks, windsurfers, snorkel masks & fins
• On-property shuttles such as golf carts
• Beach and pool loungers and towels
• In-pool scuba lesson
• Kids' club
• Gym use and fitness classes
• Room wifi and business center
• All tips
Sometimes Included at All-Inclusive Hotels
• Van transportation from and back to the airport
• Laundering of a few items
• Top-shelf liquor
• Super-deluxe dining options such as lobster, foie gras, and caviar
• Regular 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):
• High-end wine with dinner
• 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
• Scuba diving
• Cabanas and beach beds
• Personal trainers
• Off-property excursions
About All-Inclusive Hybrids, or Semi-Inclusives
Here's a 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. One stellar example: the dazzling design hotel, NIZUC, set between Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
All-inclusive Hotels Featured Here on TripSavvy
• In the Adirondacks of upstate New York: only 11 rooms in a former Rockefeller lodge, the exquisite The Point
• A bucket-list hotel in a legendary destination: Turtle Island Fiji, with only 14 cottages
• Also in Cancun, Mexico: a compact, chic resort with young, fashionable guests: Le Blanc Spa Resort
• Down the hotel strip, a chic, beach resort with great dining: Live Aqua Cancun
• On the Riviera Maya, Mexico, an estate-like hacienda where every villa is right on the beach: Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita
• On the Dutch side of a winning Caribbean island, the adults-only Sonesta Great Bay Sint Maarten