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-inclusive 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.
They tend to be large resorts with a vast array of dining and recreational activities for guests to choose from. Since they offer a vast array of activities and amenities, they work well for active guests. Many target honeymoon couples and the girl/guy getaway crowd. Some are for adults only. Some have separate pools (or even wings) for families. And some are completely family-focused. Still, others 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 It Be Your Style?
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 (All You Can Eat); or you're an oenophile who's not going to drink the typical Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or Cava bubbly; tipping individual staffers is something you like to do.
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 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.
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 are 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-hours); 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!
What's Sometimes Included
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.
What's Not Included
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.
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.
Featured All-inclusive Hotels
- 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 Fiji
- Le Blanc Spa Resort (TripAdvisor's #1 hotel in Cancun)
- Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun on the Riviera Maya, Mexico
- Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita; Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico