Let’s see if I have this right. It’s my vacation budget for our family summer vacation. First, there’s airfare to get there, then lodging once we’re there. Add in x amount of dollars for food, *erase erase* make that x plus amount of dollars for food. After all, growing boys need more than three meals a day. Where was I, oh yes, attractions cost money too. Let’s add y/dollars for attractions. Are we going to see a…I don’t remember, “HONEY, ARE WE GOING TO SEE A SHOW?” So, there’s money for a…”HONEY, HOW MUCH…” she’s gone. How much did she say the show tickets were going to be? I should have that information somewh..”Hey, I’ve been looking for tha…” Must focus. Where was I?
Man, that sounds like a lot of work to get away from work for a week. Isn’t there a better way? Isn’t there a travel guide magazine with an idea? Well, that depends. Gildshire has an idea, but whether it is a better idea is up to you. Have you ever been on an all-inclusive vacation? I know you have heard of them, but here are some pros and cons to help you decide if an all-inclusive vacation is a vacation for you. Let’s take it in the order of the categories that make up a great trip.
What Kinds of All-Inclusive Vacation Resorts Are Available?
More than you can imagine. In fact, the all-inclusive market has exploded in the last 15 years. One popular brand is called Beaches. Their primary appeal is to families. Another family-friendly resort is the RIU chain, but couples, as well as groups, enjoy these as well.
You’ve seen the ads for all-inclusive vacations that are fairly drenched in romance? Those are Sandals resorts. A step even further away from children sharing your pool is an adults-only resort.
Those All have Their Appeal. Where Are They Located?
The vast majority of all-inclusives, particularly in the Caribbean, are beach-side! If not they are by a bay and have access to beaches, be they private or public. Almost all of them are in, or near, major cities and the airports incumbent to large cities.
This Sounds Great, But You Said Pros and Cons…
Indeed, I did, and it depends on how you feel about visiting new territory. I know a man who came back from an all-inclusive vacation last year. He was glowing, both from the experience and the abundance of sun. I asked him where he had gone, and he said, “Jamaica, Mon” (because everyone who goes to Jamaica automatically says that.) I discovered a fact that made me shake my head, even as he was unfazed. It turns out he took the convenient airport shuttle to the resort…and never got outside the resort gates. It wasn’t entirely his fault. Right outside the gate was a similar resort…and then another…and then another. In fact, it would have been a 40-minute drive to get outside the resort-area and into Jamaican landscape. So, did my friend visit Jamaica? He will tell you he did. But, did he?
Interesting Point, and Something I Will Have to Ponder. Any other Pros and Cons?
Yes, let’s talk about the food. A major pro is that the price of food and drink is included. Hence the name, all-inclusive vacation. Leave your money in the safe and roam about the resort. Soon, you’ll be dining and drinking ’til your heart (and belly) is content. This isn’t a cruise during which you purchase soda, juice, and alcohol. Your all-inclusive vacation comes with alcohol, soft drinks and juices included.
I Don’t See How There Can Be a Con Coming Out of This.
The food is…okay, even if generic. The resort chefs cater to the American/European palate. There’s plenty of food, but the taste has been, for lack of a better term, dumbed down. For families, the unlimited food is great for picky little eaters. If they don’t like A, B, or C, there are still lots of letters to go. For teenage appetites, the amount trumps genuineness. The native and specialty restaurants and cafes are better. Make a reservation upon your arrival. Look for some of the native food and drink, and ask the staff for local-area recommendations for when you leave the resort and go to town.
Are There Other Pros and Cons?
The activities are a pro, but they have some con to them. Let me explain. From early morning to late night activities are taking place. Beach yoga, dance and art classes etc. Help sail a catamaran, kayak, parasail, snorkel, ride a glass-bottom boat, jet ski, or go horseback riding, You get the idea. Some activities (horseback riding for one) cost extra, but tell me it’s not worth it to feel the wind and sea spray in your face while galloping down the beach! Take a spa day to work off the food and then it’s time for a new hairdo in the modern salon. Tonight, there’s entertainment, including a Broadway-style show, comedians, and even karaoke! Dance your booty to smithereens at one of several beach parties or else in the club. There are casinos, too. Try your luck!
Can’t you see them tucked into the pros? For some, a vacation is a time to relax and quietly reflect. A time to center their mind. Maybe think deep thoughts about the next novel they want to write. Those people may be put off by how crowded it is, and how hard it is to find quiet places to relax. The staff can get a little pushy trying sign you up for add-on tours and excursions. If the spa-day is an add-on (some are and some aren’t) the spa is expensive in comparison to what you will spend at the spa in your hometown.
Okay, I Get That. But, Bottom Line: Does An All-inclusive Vacation Makes Sense From a Financial Standpoint.
Again, pros and cons. For a once every ten years blowout vacation or a milestone anniversary celebration, an all-inclusive vacation is an economical choice. Like for a cruise, one price covers room, food, (and drinks on an all-inclusive vacation), entertainment and activities. Many airlines offer vacation packages that include the resort stay along with your airfare. That comes out less-expensive (perhaps substantially less-expensive) than booking each separately. In almost all cases, booking airfare and hotel, then dining at different restaurants on your vacation will cost you more than at an all-inclusive resort. Also, deals are abundant on travel sites. Truly, this kind of a week’s vacation for a family of four is cheaper than Disney World.
However (and you knew one was coming) you must read the fine print before signing on the dotted line. Some small things that may be important to you may be an add-on. How about wi-fi? Make sure wi-fi is included unless you want to un-hook for the week. (That isn’t a bad idea, actually.) A few resorts don’t include wi-fi unless you are in the VIP portion of the property. Beyond that, know EXACTLY what is included. Post-vacation sticker shock isn’t a happy ending. Finally, the resorts recoup some of the financial advantages you are receiving by selling excursion and tour add-ons. If they interest you, fine. If not, politely and firmly say no.
Did your favorite travel guide magazine give you enough to think on? What did you decide? Either way enjoy your vacation because you deserve it.