I will be the first to admit that I am a snob. I crave authenticity and reject most things that I find contrived or over-marketed. If I were younger, I might be called a hipster, but I’m really just a picky, introverted academic who finds chain restaurants and hotels boring and devoid of charm. That’s not an indictment on the chains, I guess, as much as it is on me. When I travel, I want to experience the “real” side of each place I visit, so the idea of an all-inclusive resort was never something I considered. I assumed one could not stay at an all-inclusive resort and experience authenticity. I was wrong.
All-Inclusive Resorts are not all the same. It was unfair of me to assume they could be lumped together into to one, charmless, flavorless category. It was foolish of me to refuse to see the benefits they provide. I have now learned that my preconceived notions regarding the All-Inclusive vacation were not only false, I was ignorant, and I want to set the record straight.
Here are the seven benefits All-Inclusive Resorts offer their guests:
Financial Benefits- Prepayment means no overspending.
Guests at an All-Inclusive Resort have prepaid for their entire experience, including food, drinks, and activities. Often times paying for these things together ends up costing significantly less than paying for individual meals, rounds of drinks, and things to do.
Transportation Benefits- Everything is available onsite
Because All-Inclusives incorporate activities, restaurants, bars, and even nightlife right on the property, guests don’t have to be concerned with arranging transportation in an unfamiliar location.
Demographic Benefits- Resorts provide traveler specific experiences
All-Inclusives are designed to cater specifically to certain kinds of travelers. There are family-friendly resorts which feature kids and teens clubs with organized activities and often include water features specifically designed for small children. Conversely, Adults-only resorts secure a child-free environment for couples or singles looking to relax or party, respectively. Sandals and Secrets Resorts are exclusively for adults and offer upscale all-inclusive experiences, while their sister companies, Beaches and Dreams, are geared toward providing five-star vacations to families.
Entertainment Benefits- The fun comes to you
Most all inclusives provide a comprehensive activities and entertainment schedule which usually includes athletic activities and shows hosted right on the resort property. But for guests looking for more local adventure, All-Inclusive resorts almost always partner with tour companies that are able to arrange for excursions to and from local sites and nightlife. Typical onsite entertainment schedules at all-inclusive resorts include beach volleyball, themed pool parties, and live music. Some resort chains incorporate broadway-style shows and performances that celebrate local culture and tradition.
Dining Benefits- Restaurants provide options to satisfy all palettes
Dining options vary at All-Inclusive resorts, but food and drink are almost always available and unlimited. Researching your destination before booking can give you great insight as to what restaurants are available and what other travelers say to expect from your meals. Many All-Inclusive resorts are renowned for the gastronomy and feature Michelin-rated restaurants. Most All-Inclusive resorts offer a variety of restaurants including both buffets and ala’ carte options. Usually, there is a focus on international cuisine and travelers have no problem accommodating individual tastes and dietary needs.
Logistics Benefits- No schedule, no problem
Guests at All-Inclusives don’t have to overplan. It is entirely possible to plan nothing at all during your entire vacation and still have a rich, flavorful experience. Some All-Inclusives do require dining reservations, but most of those can be made the day of the meal. Guests can decide to participate in activities and excursions, or not. They can take advantage of spa and gym facilities, or not. All-Inclusive resorts allow the traveler to experience their vacation at whichever pace they decide.
Emotional Benefits- Stress-free traveling
Because meals and drinks are paid for, because activities and child care can easily be arranged, because travelers have the opportunity to truly relax without being responsible for plans, deadlines, and paying bills; travelers experience far less stress while vacationing at an All-Inclusive Resort. There is no anxiety about overspending. There is no concern about where to eat or which show to try to get tickets to see. The All-Inclusive offers the most stress-free travel experience by providing everything the traveler needs.
I still value authenticity and I will still always look for corners of the world that are undisturbed by chains and cooperations. But I have learned that, with appropriate research, I can find All-Inclusive Resorts that provide an authentic local experience. I have found resorts that value the flavor and culture of their surroundings and focus on ethical and environmentally sound practices. Not all All-Inclusive Resorts are created equal, but it was foolish of me to believe that they couldn’t offer a valuable experience. Sometimes the stress-free beach vacation is exactly what this high school teacher needs, and now that I know the many benefits an All-Inclusive Resort can offer me, I am determined to experience as many of them as I can.