5 Things That Might Surprise You about All-Inclusive Resorts

by  Teresa Bitler | Dec 19, 2014
The BodyHoliday Resort
The BodyHoliday Resort / Photo courtesy of the property

All-inclusive resorts take the effort out of vacationing—you pay upfront, you don’t have to make an itinerary, and you have access to great food and entertainment onsite. But, all-inclusive resorts have a few other advantages over the traditional resort experience. Here are five things that might surprise you about all-inclusive resorts.

You have may have amenities beyond the property.
Just in case the handful of dining options, spa rooms, and other amenities aren't enough, look for an all-inclusive resort that has a sister property nearby. For example, Barcelo Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana is comprised of two properties, but guests at either can enjoy the collective 11 restaurants, with a variety of cuisines ranging from Dominican to Japanese, as well as the golf course at the Palace Deluxe property. Just research any restrictions before you book -- sometimes you need to purchase packages for extra access, and you may need to make a reservation in advance to secure a spot.

You don't have to shy away from family-friendly hideaways.
Churning in a pool with dozen of kids isn't your idea of a vacation? Don't worry. Because all-inclusive resorts tend to be much larger properties than its traditional counterpart, they typically have larger pools -- and more of them. That means that, depending on the resort, the pools can feel less crowded. Plus, some all-inclusive resorts have children’s swimming pools and water parks, so families tend to recreate in these areas... allowing guests to have a more relaxing experience at the other pools. If you don’t want to risk the squeals of someone else’s kids splashing in the pool at all, all-inclusive resorts often have adults-only pools, too. In fact, Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa has three that exclude tiny tots. Back at Bavaro, one of the properties is entirely adults-only.

Local is free, but imports may not be.
Free alcohol is one of the biggest perks at an all-inclusive, but the drinks are only free as long as you stick to the well spirits. Order a Grey Goose, and you’ll likely pay top shelf prices. We don’t mind, though, because local is usually free at all-inclusive resorts -- and, after all, isn’t that part of the experience, sampling local foods and beverages? Just read the fine print to make sure you understand what is included -- and not -- before you go. Plus, there might always be exceptions. Palace Resorts, for one, offer premium brands such as Grey Goose, Tanqueray, and Don Julio at no extra charge.

You don’t have to carry cash... or worry about conversion.
You’ll still want to bring a card to pay for incidentals and unexpected expenses, but depending on the all-inclusive, you won’t have to worry about cash for tips because they’re incorporated into the price of your package. Of course, you can always carry just a little cash for anyone who goes above and beyond -- and tips can get you some extra attention at the bar too. Another bonus: You won’t need to worry about exchanging currency—employees will gladly accept American dollars.

Not all packages are made equal.
No surprise here, but some all-inclusives include more than just meals and drinks. We've seen everything from butler service and activities like scuba diving at no extra cost. But just for a few examples: Bavaro's Punta Cana properties offer a "hydromassage circuit" at the spa, laundry service, and complimentary airport shuttle service year-round, while Palace Resorts offer two complimentary tickets when you book five or more nights during any of their live performance dates. Over in St. Lucia, The BodyHoliday has offered free daily spa treatments in the past.

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