Travel Tactics: The All-Inclusive Value Proposition

Make the most of your vacation.

By Heidi Mitchell | Illustration by Steve Scott

All-inclusive resorts that include food, activities, and other perks can make a getaway more affordable and that much simpler to plan. We uncovered five ways to stretch your dollar even further.

The All-Inclusive Value Proposition

Check Your Calendar

Your arrival date can impact which activities are on offer and how busy the resort will be—which can make it tricky to secure a snorkel lesson or a private room for a big family dinner. Opt for dates that fall outside of standard school breaks, and browse all the activities available on-site ahead of time so you can craft a loose itinerary. Some resorts have special offers such as tickets to shows or events that you won’t want to miss.

Reserve a Seat

It’s not uncommon for all-inclusive resorts and cruise ships to have special dining venues that aren’t heavily advertised and require reservations. It can be worth making a call at the time of your booking to ask if there are any special restaurants at which you should reserve a table or activities that require booking well in advance. Typically, there is no fee (or a minimal one), and if you cancel, you won’t be charged.

Read the Fine Print

Before you book, find the resort that works for you. Know what you are getting into, and be sure you understand the fees and what is included. Also find out if your resort includes gratuity for staff. Some all-inclusives don’t, but others do and ask their employees not to accept tips.

Make a Plan

Many resorts cover unlimited beverages, but few grant top-shelf liquors or premium wines. (The most generous will pour guests anything they can see at the bar.) Ask about the drinks allowance, and if you like to imbibe on vacation, consider tacking on a drinks package. They’re sometimes sold by the day or the week for the cost of about five drinks a day.

Go Ahead—Indulge

Did you know you can order room service at many all-inclusive resorts at no extra charge? Or that you can sometimes sign up for rewards programs to earn points toward free indulgences such as spa treatments and room upgrades? At booking, ask about current promotions. At many Caribbean destinations, families can rent a sailboat for free; at less traditional properties, such as a dude ranch, it might be horse-riding lessons. Ask the program director or concierge for the list of daily complimentary activities—and don’t forget to have fun.

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Spring 2019