Keeping in line with yesterday's post about our trip to Mexico, I wanted to go a little more in depth about all-inclusive resorts and what that really means. We had never done all-inclusive before and while I had read bits and pieces about it from reviews online, I still wasn't 100% sure what to expect. Would there be hidden fees once I got there, on top of what I'd already paid for the package? What was the deal with resort "coupons?" Etc, Etc.
To help those that might be planning/looking forward to their first all-inclusive stay, I put together some information with what I experienced. So here we go!
What the Package Price Includes
- Cost of room and taxes
- All meals on resort premises
- 24 hour room service
- Domestic, Imported and Premium Brand Drinks
- Minibar stocked with variety of beverages such as water, juice and beer
- Water and land activities
- Day and night entertainment
- 24 hour front desk
- Fitness Center
What the Package Price Does Not Include
- Spa Treatments and services
- Items in the gift and souvenir shops
- Any off premise excursions or activities
- Parking Fees
- Photography services on the premises
Most all-inclusive resorts have complimentary in room safes and we were required to put our passports in them. It's typically located in a small closet. You make the code and set your valuables in there. No big deal. We stayed at Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun and I really liked the layout. It was spacious, the minibar was restocked every day and housekeeping was always on top of it. One day, we found a "do not disturb" sign on our door that we hadn't put there and because of it, housekeeping had passed us over. But one word mentioned to the guy in charge of stocking the minibar and housekeeping came right over to clean up. Also, if I could recommend one thing to you about the room, it's this: Get the swim-out. Can't tell you how nice it was to simply walk out of the back door in our room and step right into the pool.
Some resorts have special rules regarding the restaurants you have available. A few reviews I read said that they were only allowed to eat at a place on a certain day or a certain number of times before they had to go to a different one. We didn't have that problem, so I can't verify that. But you'll want to check with your resort to make sure. Each restaurant will have a dress code, typically casual elegance which is long pants, collared shirts and closed toed shoes for the men and pretty much anything besides shorts and flip flops for the women. The menus aren't huge, but sufficient. When it comes to the wine menu, understand that some are part of the package and some are not. Prices will be listed next to those that aren't and will be charged to your room.
Breakfast was buffet style, but there were a ton of options. Something to note here: They will have scrambled egg trays that you can scoop from, but if you prefer scrambled egg whites or other types of eggs, visit the omelet station and ask the chef there. They'll make you whatever you want. I didn't find that out until the third day and up until then, had been pretty disappointed with the lack of egg whites.
Water and Land Activities
This applies to non-motorized water activities. Kayaking, Sailing and Snorkeling are among that list of inclusions.
The most questions people seem to have are with resort coupons. Your resort will give you a certain dollar amount in hotel coupons which you can use on spa services, upgraded wine, a romantic dinner for two and towards the gift/souvenir shop. Our resort gave us $200, but only a certain amount of that could be applied in each category. We could use $40 each at the spa, $10 towards an upgrade of wine, etc. Honestly, resort coupons are sort of a ripoff. These extras are already largely overpriced from the start, so using coupons towards it doesn't make that big a dent or even "save" you money. In my opinion, it's a gimmick to make you feel like you're getting a good deal.
**VIP! Make sure that you present your coupons at time of service. Do not save them for checkout on your last day. They will be charged to your bill and they are very strict about the coupons.**
Things to Ask About & Keep in Mind
- Transport to/from airport (No one told us that there was no complimentary shuttle. Arrange with your travel agent or locally for a van or taxi)
- Daily Hotel Use Fees (Some resorts charge approximately $25 a day just for staying at the hotel. Ours did not)
- In Room Calling Coverage (Do they offer free US/Canada calling? What is the International rate per minute? This might be less expensive than adding coverage on your cell phone)
- When packing pre-trip, triple check that you have all of your necessities, such as sunscreen. Or you'll end up paying $26 like we did for a bottle of $3 sunblock. In fairness, we brought sunscreen, but ran out on the third day and had to buy more. Talk about sticker shock!
I think that pretty much covers it. If you've gone all-inclusive before and have anything to add, leave it in the comments below for others who might need it. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience going all-inclusive. I'd highly recommend it to anyone! Tomorrow, I plan to do a review of our specific resort so stay tuned!