Written by Mark Smith. Published on .
It all began at the resort check-in counter; £10 in my pocket, blood pressure slowly rising, as I read through the list. “What list?” you may ask…
“Welcome Mr Smith. I can see you’ve opted for the All-Inclusive option at our lovely resort. Here’s a brochure detailing the inclusions… and the supplementary items that you can pay extra for.”
The list, slowly unfolding before me like the string of postcards from the gift shop, steadily increases my anxiety as I realised just how much of my ideal holiday is listed on there… for a fee. Not a good start at all! And this is because nothing frustrates me more when it comes to wanting my perfect holiday than the term “All-Inclusive”! After careful planning, picking my “All-Inclusive” hotel, and generally getting excited over my amazing trip to a far flung destination, all I want to do is spend my week away without a care in the world… How wrong I could be!
Now I’m not saying that I am adverse to paying more for the finer things in life, but the frustration I feel comes from the fact that All-Inclusive does not actually mean ALL-Inclusive. And I’m not the only one it seems… the resorts themselves must have been on the receiving end of this issue as many have now released their custom versions by providing tiers of packages to try and clear up the meaning of the word all. Unfortunately, this can just complicate things further, so let’s have a look at some of the different terminology the marketers use.
This is the hardest one of all to understand! All-Inclusive covers the whole spectrum and can mean the best-of-the-best where you will never need your wallet or purse from the moment you land, but in this range the only thing you can really be sure of is that you will get three meals a day. You will definitely have to do some digging and find out exactly what their version of all-inclusive actually means.
Do not assume with this phrase that you will have endless food, beverages, activities, or anything else included in your room rate. This option could exclude the mini-bar, snacks at the pool, and sometimes even bottles of water or WiFi! Read the inclusions very carefully before booking any resort with this type of board basis.
A great comparison between hotels using this generic term is between Villa Buena Onda in Costa Rica, a luxury boutique hotel that includes three meals but no alcohol or activities, and The BodyHoliday where activities and inclusions are much more extensive.
The addition of the “Plus” on an all-inclusive holiday can mean a variety of things depending on the resort, but generally this now means that your drinks are included (during normal opening hours) at the hotel bars and restaurants. But beware… it is still only usually water, soft drinks, local beer, and local wine. This can sometimes be extended to international brands, but food is still usually only the three main meals per day.
An All-Inclusive Plus holiday can also mean activities are now included, but once again, this can change from resort to resort, and will only be non-motorised. If you see yourself on the back of a jet ski in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, you will need to keep looking.
These are the pinnacle of the all-inclusive options and are usually located on the islands of the Caribbean such as the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, Cancun and the Riviera Maya in Mexico, and the islands in the Indian Ocean such as the Maldives or Mauritius.
Known by several names such as Unlimited Luxury or Luxury Included, the high-end of the all-inclusive spectrum gives guests nearly everything they are looking for. From mini-bars replenished multiple times a day, to a plethora of restaurant options (both in the resort you are in and their partner properties in some instances), to 24 hour room service; these are the places that satisfy most whims.
You may have noticed the use of words like nearly and most, which in my mind is a direct contradiction to the word unlimited, but even these resorts will not be a complete experience for every guest. As points of difference, each resort has niches that they seem to focus on. Some include green fees for their golf course but don’t offer complimentary spa treatments, where others have personal concierges or butlers but don’t include no check-in or check-out times, and most still don’t offer motorised water sports but they will provide specials where resort credit can be used.
What it all comes down to is two things…
Take the lesson I learnt and investigate everything first as even a room category can make a big difference to what is offered. Of course you can always remove the hassle and just make a list of must-have things to tell your personal consultant at Just Fly Business and they will look after the rest for you!
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