There is a blessing and a curse to having it all. By all I mean, investing in all-inclusive travel experiences. I’ve experienced my fair share of all-inclusive (AI) from resorts to cruises and I must say ultimately I’m a fan of it, when it’s done right. But there are levels to this and unfortunately, some experiences miss the mark.
According to one of the premiere travel trade publications Travel + Leisure magazine, “At an all-inclusive resort, more than at most other lodgings, you know just what you’re paying for and can take care of all the arrangements well in advance—leaving you free to relax from the moment you arrive.” I would agree with that statement. And I love not having to pull out my wallet from the moment I step foot on the resort. However, the first thing to note is that all AI experiences are not created equal. The ones I love the most are those that offer a variety of quality dining options, including specialty restaurants, without having to jump through hoops and that aren’t limited in the adult beverage department. If that seems obvious to you, note the ones that offer this are few and far between and they will most certainly cost you. In many cases the specialty restaurants are either an additional price or very hard to reserve. You might have to wake up at 6 am on your vacation to get in line to make a reservation before anyone else does. I mean really, who wants to do that?
As a self-professed foodie, which these days seem to be anyone who loves food, I can honestly say that I’ll try just about anything and I absolutely love to have a different experience every day. I also like to indulge in the local cuisine of the destination I’m visiting. Sadly, not all AI experiences offer these options. In fact, some AI properties only offer two or three restaurants, the majority of which are buffet where you find yourself dining morning, noon and night. I get bored with that very easily because for me the dining experience is just as much about the ambiance as it is about the food. Well, it may not be equal but it’s up there.
I’m currently visiting an AI property in South Florida. Yes, there are AI options within the good ole US of A, likely in driving distance from wherever you are. [Side note: I found there are dozens of properties that classify themselves as AI in the United States. In Colorado alone there are 18! Who knew?!] I knew I had to manage my expectations going in though because of the star rating and price point of the resort. And if you’re wondering, yes I got an amazingly cheap rate (partially due to my status as a travel professional). I’ve found the saying rings true for AI as it does for just about everything in life: “You get what you pay for.” Trust me, I’m not complaining but I know what I like and you should too before you choose which one to visit.
My recommendation is to do your research and take into account what type of eater and drinker you are. If you are anything like me, you’ll want to save up to do one of the higher end AI resorts or cruise lines that offer a variety of dining and beverage options. Trust me it’s worth it, and it truly is possible to have it all.