Planning an All-Inclusive Vacation
For most of us, planning a vacation is tricky since we often have to pick a destination, hotel, and other services sight-unseen. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you make a more informed choice, and to ensure you get what you pay for while you're there.
Before you go:
1) Read reviews. Check travel sites like tripadvisor.com to read what others have to say about the resort. If 10 people write about the cockroach problem, look elsewhere. But be sure to read between the lines too. Few destinations get the thumbs up from every single visitor. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to spot the high-maintenance type of reviewer. (Hint: They don’t like anything… except perhaps complaining.)
2) Consult a travel agent. In the age of do-it-yourself travel bookings, don’t forget about travel agents. Find one that specializes in the types of resorts you like or the area you’re considering. Good agents have visited many of these resorts themselves and can help you find the right one to match your budget, your needs and your expectations.
3) Read the fine print. Review what’s included at each resort. Some things can cost extra, like water sports, trips to the spa, tours and other activities.
4) Read the fine print, again. Also, keep in mind that some all-inclusives have limited food and beverage selections. For example, the resort may have plenty of tropical fruit drinks to choose from, but the wine selection might be slim, and you may have to pay by the bottle for anything beyond the house red or white.
5) Stars and salt. Take star ratings with a small grain of salt. In some countries, there is standard criteria for star ratings while in other countries there is none. In places like Mexico and Cuba, a four star may really be like a three star, and a five star more like a four star.
While you’re there:
6) Tip anyway. Staff at most of these resorts don’t get tips. As a result, some of the service can be less than stellar. Ensure better service by tipping some staff, regardless of the policy, like the bartender at your favourite bar or the maid who cleans your room. If you aren’t getting the service you deserve, complain, and go straight to the manager. You’ll get an improvement in service, and perhaps even a complementary perk or two as a peace offering. (Avoid arguing with staff, especially if there’s a language barrier. You’ll rarely anywhere.)
7) Scout ahead. While on location, be sure to check out neighbouring resorts to gather ideas for future vacation destinations.