family jumping into ocean with boogie boards

Regardless of how you like to travel — or with whom — an all-inclusive vacation can be a great option. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Is an All-Inclusive Vacation Right for You? Here’s What to Know Before You Book

The appeal of all-inclusive resorts is a simple one: They’re set in popular vacation destinations but require very little planning. Your lodging generally comes with a digital wristband that affords you three daily meals, plus snacks and drinks; an assortment of on-site activities; and plenty of entertainment.

In theory, the all-inclusive vacation concept means never having to leave a property in order to have good time.

A New All-Inclusive Reality

All-inclusive resorts were once regarded as easy options for travel to pretty places that rarely yielded spontaneous engagement with locals and/or their cultures.

However, the all-inclusive landscape is evolving, and many newer resorts cater to travelers with a taste for upscale amenities, as well as more adventurous, off-the-touristed-path exploration of a destination.

All-inclusive resort properties now range from low-key, casual and kid-friendly to five-star, elegant and adults-only — with nearly unlimited potential for luxury and excitement.

Who Might Enjoy an All-Inclusive Resort?


As if they’re cruise ships on land, all-inclusive resorts offer multiple options for dining and amusement, which means you can keep different types of people happy in one convenient place.

This hassle-free style of travel can be a great fit for overworked spouses, friends or solo travelers in need of relaxation; couples seeking romantic escapes; parents with small kids seeking safety, activities and available childcare; and multigenerational family groups with different interests and energy levels.

The upshot? Just about everyone can find their bliss at an all-inclusive resort.

Consider Which Style/Amenities Best Fit(s) Your Needs

all-inclusive resort costa rica
Greens and blues abound. (Photo: Marriott International)

Traveling with kids, or want more options for luxury? Royalton Saint Lucia, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort offers a kids club with a full program of fun activities, a supervised teens lounge and an upgraded Diamond Club section with a separate pool, beach and dining areas.

For a child-free vacation, look into the adults-only Royalton CHIC Punta Cana, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort & Casino or the Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort.

Or for an eco-friendly resort that focuses on local culture — but also has a golf course, full-service spa and swim-up bar — consider the 2,400-acre The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa.

What an “All-Inclusive” Might Not Include

Note, though, that “all-inclusive” doesn’t tend to mean everything is included. Many resorts charge extra for airport transfers, spa treatments, golf, motorized water sports (e.g., Jet-skiing and water-skiing), golfing, some alcoholic beverages and off-site excursions. In addition, gratuities for staff may not be covered.

Before deciding on an all-inclusive resort, use its website to research the included amenities and activities it offers. Once you’ve prioritized those that appeal most to you, read the fine print to see if any of these things aren’t included in your booking price.

On most resort websites you’ll find such details in a few key places: on the overview page, in a list of all-inclusive benefits, and/or the frequently asked questions section.

If You’re on a Tight Budget, Book Wisely

You’ll find the lowest rates at all-inclusive resorts in Central America and the Caribbean from February through mid-May, and September through November. Be aware, though, that the greatest risk of hurricanes and wet weather in these regions is from June through November.

Don’t Lose Your Resort Wristband

You may have to pay a fee in order to replace it — which will take a good chunk of the fun and savings out of your vacation.

Take Advantage of What’s Included — and Try Something New, While You’re at It


Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to kayak, take a mixology class, do yoga on the beach at sunrise, hike a seaside bluff to look for exotic birds or attend a late-night beach party with an all-white dress code. Well, now’s your chance, so be sure to occasionally climb off that lounge chair and join in the fun.

One of the best things about an all-inclusive resort is the opportunity to experience new things in a safe, supervised environment — take full advantage of the opportunity to do so.