The thought of a relaxing week on the beach with food and entertainment included in the price, and no travel decisions to make, may make you want to reach for a suitcase.
But are theses all-inclusive resorts the vacation panaceas they seem to be? California travel agent Ricardo Gomez points out the pros and cons.
Economy and Convenience – Most all-inclusive resorts are located in beach locations close to major airports, and transportation to and from are provided—and the fact that pretty much everything is included is, of course, is the biggest perk. Enjoy three meals a day, plus snacks and beverages, without going for your wallet. Grab a beach umbrella, do some surfing, see a show or do some crafting. Except for personal care, like massages or manicures, there will be few extra charges—and daycare or babysitting may be available.
Planned Activities – In most instances, couples and families can fill their days with all sorts of planned activities from beach games, boating, and water aerobics to swimming lessons and kiddie day-camping. There’s no need to make arrangements in advance or to rent the necessary gear.
Size, Noise and Crowds – What’s less apparent are that most all-inclusives are huge. You may need to take a shuttle just to get from your cabana to the dining room—and you’d better stake out your spot on the beach early, because you’ll likely be bucking a crowd. At family resorts, be prepared for lots of happy but noisy kids, while adults-only resorts may find you faced with loud music and less than pleasant encounters with rude and/or inebriated guests.
A Less Than Authentic Experience – The menus and entertainment at all-inclusives are designed to please the masses, so while the food is plentiful, it may be mediocre and lacking in local flavor. In many cases, distance from town will preclude the option to explore the local culture, too, so your dining, entertainment and shopping options will be limited to what’s on-site.
If you want to try an all-inclusive resort, Gomez advises, don’t rely on what you see online. Check with a travel agent who has been there, or knows others who have. To widen your options, choose a resort that’s a cab ride away from a major city or town.
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