An all-inclusive vacation is a vacation package that includes your accommodations, meals, drinks, activities, tips, and more for one prepaid price. Unlike a traditional vacation, where you pay for each expense separately, an all-inclusive vacation bundles everything together into one upfront cost.
With an all-inclusive vacation, once you arrive at the resort, you don’t need to take out your wallet again. Your room, all meals and snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, tips, entertainment, activities, and more are covered in the initial price. Many all-inclusive vacations also include airfare and ground transportation to and from the airport as part of the package.
The all-inclusive model differs from a typical vacation in several key ways:
One price covers most everything – Rather than paying a la carte for every meal, activity, and amenity, you pay one bundled price upfront. This makes budgeting easier.
Greater simplicity – Since costs are fixed, you don’t have to worry about money or expenses once you arrive. Everything from poolside cocktails to beach chairs to snorkel rentals is included.
More relaxation – With an all inclusive, you can fully relax without worrying about costs. There’s no need to carry cash or pause spending once on site.
All amenities included – All inclusive resorts feature tons of amenities like pools, restaurants, bars, spas, gyms, nightclubs, entertainment, activities, and more. Access is unlimited.
Higher standard of service – With costs bundled into one price, service is highly attentive. Staff work for tips which are prepaid, so the service excels.
Overall, all inclusive vacations provide a carefree, flexible vacation experience where you can enjoy world-class amenities, service, activities, and relaxation all in one prepaid, hassle-free package.
Benefits of All Inclusive Vacations
One of the biggest benefits of an all-inclusive vacation is that the majority of your costs are pre-paid and included upfront. This typically includes your accommodations, all meals at resort restaurants, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, non-motorized water sports like kayaking, nightly entertainment, tips, and more. Many all inclusive even include activities like golf, scuba diving, and excursions.
Knowing the total cost ahead of time makes budgeting for your vacation easier. There are no surprises about getting hit with extra charges and fees once you arrive. The convenience factor is huge as well—no need to carry cash or a wallet around the resort. You can enjoy your vacation without worrying about money or paying each time you order a drink or book an activity.
With so much included, all inclusive resorts provide a lot of value and help travelers make the most of their vacation time without breaking the bank. The all inclusive model allows you to enjoy top-notch amenities and services that would normally cost much more if booked separately. Between the upscale accommodations, gourmet dining, premium drinks, and long list of activities covered in one flat rate, all inclusives offer an incredible bang for your buck.
Types of All Inclusive Resorts
When booking an all inclusive vacation, one of the first things to consider is what type of resort will best suit your needs and preferences. Here are some of the main types of all inclusive resorts to choose from:
Adult only all inclusive resorts cater specifically to adult guests, typically those over 18 or 21 years old. They offer a kid-free atmosphere with amenities and entertainment geared more towards adults. This makes them popular for couples getaways, honeymoons, or vacations with friends. Activities might include wine tasting, cooking classes, or late night entertainment.
Family friendly all inclusive resorts cater to travelers of all ages, including kids and teens. They offer amenities and facilities for the whole family like kids’ clubs, waterparks, family suites, teen activities, and entertainment options. Many family resorts have children’s pools, play areas, games, and daycare.
Couples all inclusive resorts cater specifically to couples, providing a romantic setting for a getaway. They may offer adults-only areas like the spa and restaurants. Activities and entertainment are geared towards couples, like wine tastings, cooking classes, or live music and dancing. Accommodations are usually suites or villas with amenities like private hot tubs.
Luxury all inclusive resorts provide upscale accommodations, gourmet dining options, premium bars, lavish spas, and attentive service. They offer enhanced amenities like private beach areas, butler service, infinity pools, and golf courses. Activities may include snorkeling excursions, wine and food events, or yoga classes. Luxury resorts provide an indulgent, high-end vacation experience.
Budget all inclusive resorts offer excellent value, making all inclusive vacations more affordable. While amenities are more basic, they still include accommodations, meals, drinks, and activities. Budget resorts attract travelers looking for a lower priced all inclusive experience. Families and groups can find some budget all inclusive resort options as well.
With different types like adult, family, couples, luxury, and budget, travelers can find an all inclusive resort that fits their needs and vacation style. Considering the type of resort is key when booking an all inclusive getaway.
Popular All Inclusive Destinations
Some of the most popular destinations for all inclusive vacations include:
Mexico is home to some of the most popular all inclusive resorts in the world. Popular destinations include Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Riviera Maya. The beaches along Mexico’s Caribbean coastline are stunning, with white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Many resorts are located directly on the beachfront. All inclusive resorts in Mexico are known for large resorts with lots of dining options, pools, activities, nightlife, and entertainment.
The Caribbean islands offer beautiful beaches and blue waters. Popular spots for all-inclusive include Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada, and the Bahamas. Resorts often have a laid-back island vibe with oceanview rooms and suites, several restaurants and bars, pools, beaches, water sports, and entertainment.
The Bahamas is a top location for all-inclusive vacations. Nassau and Paradise Island are home to some massive resorts like Atlantis which has its own water park, aquarium, casino, and more. There are also quieter boutique all inclusive resorts on the Out Islands like the Exumas that offer a relaxing island escape.
Costa Rica and Panama have seen growth in all inclusive options. Resorts in Costa Rica often blend into the beautiful natural surroundings with rainforests, wildlife, volcanoes, and beaches. Panama’s Caribbean coast has beach resorts as well as eco-resorts in places like Bocas del Toro.
What is Typically Included
Most all-inclusive packages cover your basic needs, so you can relax and enjoy your vacation without worrying about extra expenses. Here’s a rundown of what’s generally included:
Your room or suite is included for the duration of your stay. You’ll have a comfortable, well-appointed room to return to each night. Some all-inclusives even include butler service and other premium amenities.
At least two meals per day are provided, if not three. Often, there are multiple dining options to choose from, ranging from casual to upscale. Most places include booze too, like beer, wine, and cocktails. Some limit premium alcohol, however.
As mentioned above, many all-inclusive offer unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks by the glass. Some places limit the brand selection, especially when it comes to premium liquor.
You don’t have to worry about tipping at restaurants, bars, or other venues, as gratuities are usually included. However, you may want to tip your room attendant if you receive exceptional service.
Take advantage of activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling tours, and more at no extra charge. Equipment and basic instructions are included.
Nightly shows, music, parties, games, and more are all part of the package. You’ll have plenty of organized activities to keep you entertained day and night.
What is Not Typically Included All Inclusive Vacation
Although all-inclusive vacations cover accommodations, food, drinks, tips, and many amenities, some expenses are usually not included in the base price of an all-inclusive package. Some of the most common exclusions are:
Getting to your all-inclusive destination is not covered. You’ll need to book and pay for flights separately. This includes any flights during your vacation, like island hopping between resorts.
Tours, activities outside of the resort, and transportation around the destination are typically not included either. If you want to go snorkeling, zip-lining, or visit nearby ruins or towns, you’ll likely need to book and pay for those experiences separately.
Resorts may offer motorized water sports like jet skis, parasailing, and scuba diving for an additional fee. These are considered premium activities.
Access to saunas, steam rooms, and pools is usually free, but specialized spa services like massages, facials, and body treatments often cost extra.
While wifi is free in common areas, premium high-speed wifi in guest rooms normally comes with a daily fee if it’s available at all. Get a SIM card or eSIM for 200+ destinations at the Alertify store.
All Inclusive Vacation Costs
The cost of an all-inclusive vacation can vary greatly depending on the destination, resort, travel dates, room category, and number of travelers. However, most industry experts estimate the average cost per person per day is between €200 and €500.
This daily rate multiplied by the length of your vacation is a good baseline for estimating the total cost. For a 7-night all-inclusive vacation for two people, expect to budget €2,800–7,000 for accommodations, food, drinks, activities, tips, and more. Some luxury resorts in exotic locales like the Maldives or Bora Bora can be €800–1,000 per person per night.
Other factors impacting overall vacation costs include:
Airfare – Roundtrip flights to tropical destinations often range from €300 to €800 per person.
Room Category – Upgrading to suites with ocean views or club level with concierge services increases resort rates.
Peak Dates – Holidays, school breaks, and summer vacations command higher prices.
Destination – Caribbean and Mexican resorts tend to be the most budget-friendly options.
Extras – Spa services, excursions, golf, scuba diving, and other add-ons raise costs.
With some research, flexibility on travel dates, and scoping out all-inclusive vacation package deals, you can find excellent value. But realistically, most all-inclusive vacations will be €5,000-10,000+ for two people including flights, resort, food & drinks, and activities.
Booking an all-inclusive vacation package early can help you secure the best rates and ensure availability. Resorts typically offer discounts and other incentives to book 6 months to 1 year in advance. As the travel dates get closer, rates tend to increase.
It’s important to read the fine print when booking an all-inclusive. Pay close attention to what is and isn’t included. Some resorts classify certain amenities, restaurants, activities, drinks, etc as “premium” and charge extra. There may also be caps or limits on certain inclusions.
Understand the resort’s blackout dates and restrictions. Certain weeks during peak seasons may have minimum night requirements or higher rates. Some all inclusives block out major holidays entirely. Make sure to ask about blackout dates before booking.
Finally, consider trip protection when booking. Adding travel insurance can safeguard your vacation investment if you need to cancel. And medical coverage can provide peace of mind while traveling abroad. Compare plans carefully and look for cancellation flexibility due to unforeseen events.
Top All-Inclusive Resort Chains
Some of the most popular and highly-rated all-inclusive resort chains include:
Sandals Resorts offers luxury all-inclusive vacations primarily for couples at properties throughout the Caribbean. They provide gourmet dining, quality drinks, water sports, golf, scuba diving, entertainment, and excellent service. Unique features include swim-up suites and elaborate wedding packages.
Beaches Resorts are all-inclusive family resorts also located in the Caribbean. They cater especially to families with waterparks, kid camps, teen activities, and Sesame Street characters. Adults also enjoy gourmet dining, bars, entertainment, and Red Lane Spas.
Operating over 70 resorts worldwide, Club Med provides an upscale all-inclusive experience with a lively, community vibe. Guests enjoy sports like golf, tennis, and sailing. Kids clubs keep children engaged with their own dedicated spaces and programming.
The hip, music-themed Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos offer all inclusive options in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Expect rockstar treatment with rock memorabilia displays, lively pools, luxury suites, and entertainment.
Providing adults-only all-inclusive vacations, the Excellence Group features luxury resorts primarily in Mexico and the Caribbean. Guests praise the food, service, rooms, activities, evening entertainment, and well-appointed spas.
Is an All Inclusive Right for You?
All inclusive resorts can be a great option for certain travelers, but they aren’t right for everyone. Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding if an all-inclusive vacation fits your style:
Simple, predictable pricing – The upfront cost covers your room, food, drinks, and activities. You don’t have to worry about budgeting for meals or being nickeled and dimed for extras.
More relaxed pace – No need to research restaurants, plan activities, or negotiate costs. You can focus simply on relaxing and enjoying your vacation.
Wide variety of amenities – From multiple restaurants to pools, beaches, bars, spas, and kid’s clubs, all inclusives offer lots of built-in entertainment and facilities.
Opportunity to try new things – With activities included, you may enjoy experiences you wouldn’t normally pay for à la carte.
Social atmosphere – All-inclusive resorts foster a lively, communal mood where it’s easy to mingle with other guests.
Convenience – Having meals, drinks, tips, entertainment, and more wrapped up in one predictable charge is ultra-convenient.
Potential for overeating or overdrinking – With unlimited food and alcohol included, it can be easy to overindulge on vacation.
Less cultural immersion – On-resort experiences mean you’ll have less incentive to explore offsite restaurants, attractions, and culture.
Possibility of “bubble” feeling – Some travelers feel trapped or bored staying at an isolated resort with the same guests, amenities, and schedule.
Less flexibility – Dining, activities, and other logistics are set by the resort. You have fewer choices than traveling independently.
Potential “party” vibe – Some all-inclusives cater to a spring break-like atmosphere that not all guests prefer.
Who Should Consider an All Inclusive?
All-inclusive vacations can be ideal for:
- Families with young kids
- Group trips with friends
- Couples and honeymooners
- Relaxation seekers
- First-time travelers to a region
- Those who value convenience
- Guests who want predictable costs
They may not suit independent travelers, cultural immersion seekers, very adventurous eaters, or those looking for a quiet, secluded vacation. Think about your travel style, priorities, and vacation goals to decide if an all-inclusive package resonates. With the variety of options available, you can likely find a resort and destination to match your needs. Happy travel!