All about "all-inclusives"

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Wouldn't it be nice if you knew almost to the penny what you'd spend on hotel, food, beverages and some activities BEFORE you went on vacation? If your plans include an all-inclusive resort, you're well on your way!

I've sometimes heard all-inclusive resorts called "a cruise on land." That's certainly a colorful description, but where your ship takes you to several destinations, many all-inclusive properties are destinations unto themselves, making this type of vacation very relaxing. I've also found an all-inclusive vacation to be very budget-friendly, offering terrific value.

Here are some things to consider if you're contemplating an all-inclusive vacation:

What's really included at an "all-inclusive?"
The vast majority of all-inclusive properties will include all meals and beverages - including alcohol - in your package, along with your accommodations.

Many will also feature a variety of activities under the heading of "non-motorized water sports." What does that mean? It means things like snorkeling from the beach, boogie boards, sailboards and a variety of water toys are part of the price.

A few high-end "super-inclusive" or "ultra-inclusive" resorts will also include "motorized" water sports like scuba diving and water skiing. Some of these deluxe resorts will also include things like golf, horseback riding and day excursions in the mix.

Most all-inclusives even include your tips!

Won't I get bored eating at the same place everyday?
In a word, no.

Virtually all the resorts have multiple restaurants and dining options right there on property. The menus are varied each day and often the dining areas will offer theme nights, leaving you less likely to get tired of their selections.

Many chains also have a "stay at one, play at all" policy where you can use the facilities of sister properties in the area. The various Sandals resorts all over the Caribbean offer this policy, while the Palace resorts, Iberostar and RIU properties in places like the Cancun/Riviera Maya also encourage you to resort hop, helping you make the most of your stay.

Where are the best all-inclusives?
I get this question a lot.

Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are famous for their posh resorts, but I would add a few other islands to that list - St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos and Antigua are a few.

I'd also advise against all-inclusives in places like Grand Cayman and St. Thomas. For Grand Cayman, I don't know if it's because the chains that do this type of property so well are not currently operating on this lovely island, but in my opinion, the few that are here are not worth the extra money.

In the case of St. Thomas, there are two very nice all-inclusives, but their locations aren't the best - they sit up on bluffs instead of on the beach. The views are great, but you’ve got a little hike to get to the sand.

Who should consider all-inclusive resorts?
In my opinion, everyone, as there are properties that cater to couples, families and singles of all ages in a variety of great destinations.

There used to be a school of thought that if you weren't a big consumer of alcohol, all-inclusives weren't much of a bargain for you, but these days, that's just not true.

Non-alcoholic beverages - including the chocolate-banana smoothies my daughter drinks like water - can be quite pricey. Not having to keep a running tab on what my family is ordering by the pool raises my relaxation quotient considerably! My pocketbook is pleased, too.

While not every great vacation destination has this kind of property - Hawaii being the most glaring example in my book - consider an all-inclusive if it does. When you think about everything that's included, you'll be glad you did.

And just in case you're looking for a great deal on an all-inclusive property: here come the specials!

Cancun/Riviera Maya

Some of the most beautiful properties in this gorgeous resort area are on sale!

The packages below include round trip air from Phoenix, six nights accommodation as noted, airport transfers and tips. Midweek travel offers the best rates, but weekend-to-weekend packages are available, too. Valid for travel August - October and on into November.

Iberostar Paraiso Beach Resort
Run of House Room (best available at time of check in)
From $869.00 per person, double occupancy, plus air taxes
Love this property! Lots of great activities nearby and the beach here is terrific!

Occidental Grand Xcaret
Deluxe Room
From $895 per person, double occupancy, plus air taxes
Gorgeous resort, adjacent to the spectacular Xcaret nature park!

Jamaica

The terrific RIU chain has resorts in each of the major resort areas on sale!

RIU Montego Bay
Run of House Room
$909.00 per person, double occupancy, plus air taxes
One of their newest and prettiest properties!

RIU Ocho Rios
Ocean View Room
$929.00 per person, double occupancy, plus air taxes
Wonderful property, right on the beautiful sands of Ocho Rios!

RIU Negril
Run of House Room
$929.00 per person, double occupancy, plus air taxes
Lovely property in one of Jamaica’s most famous resort areas!

The packages include round trip air from Phoenix, six nights all-inclusive accommodation as noted, airport transfers and tips. Like Cancun, midweek travel offers the best rates, but packages over weekends are available, too. Valid for travel August - October, and then on into mid-November.

By air, land or sea, we're planning your next great vacation at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or if you're outside the Metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 and 623, call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at rosanne@travelationonline.com. I look forward to hearing from you!