On She Goes

Take It Easy: Find the Best All-Inclusive Resorts

A guide to booking the best resort for you.

Alexis Dent
Alexis Dent
July 11, 2017
Story hero image

Vacation planning can be stressful and overwhelming, when all you want to do is get away without the headache of figuring out every small detail. Lucky for us, there’s a better way to ensure you have a great trip before hitting the tarmac: you can find the best all-inclusive resorts and save yourself a lot of vacation planning. All-inclusive resorts bundle your lodging, dining—and sometimes even activities—into one for a flat fee that you pay in advance of your trip.

While all-inclusive spots are typically associated with Caribbean locales such as Cancún and Punta Cana, there are all-inclusive resorts all around the world. Whether you’re eager to soak up the sun in Montego Bay or dance the night away on the beaches of Ibiza, the world is your oyster, and all-inclusive resorts will save you time, headaches, and often money. If a beachy locale isn’t your thing, you can head to a South American adventure like the Atacama Desert in Chile or to a skiing paradise in the French Alps. All-inclusive resorts are by no means limited to places with palm trees; there are many locales across the world that have all-inclusive options.

Beware: not all resorts are created equal. Even if you exclude resorts with questionable reviews and outdated amenities, you won’t be in the clear just because you bypassed the shady options. There are many factors to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best experience your budget can buy, so here are some tips to keep in mind.

photo by Alexis Dent

Location, location, location
How far do you want to travel to get to a resort, and do you want to spend some time in the local area before and after you check in? The most popular all-inclusive destinations are in Caribbean locales, for the most part. In each country there will be certain cities that are known for being hot spots, such as Montego Bay and Kingston in Jamaica, and Playa del Carmen, Cabo, and Cancún in Mexico. You’ll find the bulk of all-inclusive options at these kinds of popular destinations. Thus, if you’re looking to go off the beaten path during your travel, knowing where you are in relation to your desired resort destination is incredibly important.

When I travel, I love picking resorts that are close to the airport. I know that I don’t want to sit through an hour or two of driving down one-lane roads when there are endless cocktails to be had! Likewise, nothing makes the end-of-vacation blues worse than  languishing on a bus for those two hours. That may be my preferred travel philosophy, but airport proximity isn’t important to everyone. Some of the best resorts are tucked away in remote areas or located far away because of scenery and amenities.

What’s your priority?
From excellent food to amazing amenities to once-in-a-lifetime excursions—knowing your priorities will make it a lot easier to choose a resort. For instance, if you’re desiring a week of beachy bliss and world-class cuisine, your best bet is to look for resorts in your desired location with the most consistently affirming restaurant reviews.

Not all resorts are one size fits all, so it’s really about figuring out what’s most important to you and fits your budget. If making concessions in some aspects of a prospective resort is hard for you, sit and think about what you want to experience while you’re on a trip. Although you may have ideas for excursions in mind when picking a destination, you may find even more activities to add to your must-do list. Riding through the forest on ATVs and observing tropical wildlife in its natural habitat? So cool. However, it was an excursion I wouldn’t have even known existed if it weren’t for researching resorts and finding out that activities like this could be added to a lodging package. With multiple resorts to choose from, you can find a resort that best meets your specific needs.

Uncover those hidden fees
Some resorts will upcharge you for wine or have certain restaurants that do not fall under their all-inclusive plans. Other resorts will have a fee for Jet Skis, booze cruises, and snorkeling. Spend your money wisely and stay within your budget by figuring out which added fees are deal breakers. The purpose of an all-inclusive resort is to leave your pocketbook at home and rest assured that your expenses are covered before you even check in. If a resort looks like it comes with tons of extra fees, you may want to think twice and examine another option.

Alexis in Jamaica
photo courtesy of Alexis Dent

Find it on the ’Gram
It’s all glitz and glam when you’re looking at the professional photos on a resort’s website, but what does that resort really look like? Check Instagram to see photos tagged at that location to get a real-time look into the resort. How crowded is the pool deck at midday? How nicely prepared are those endless drinks? Does the food look even half as good as the website photos suggest? Is my room actually going to look like an oasis? It’s normal to have tons of questions before embarking on your travels, and this is a quick and easy way to see how other folks are experiencing the resort.