Now that dreary rain has replaced warm Beaches I’m ready to share my thoughts. This post is about my impressions of all-inclusives in general. Of course I’m viewing AI resorts through the lens of Beaches Turks and Caicos but I think I have a pretty good idea what is specific to Beaches and what is AI across the board. I’ll approach Beaches in another post. I also want to make sure to address your questions about AI because you had some great ones. If I miss any, please let me know in the comments.
- All-Inclusive is for those times when you want “vacation”. If you want any sort of culture, AI is not for you. Your most involved decision will be choosing which pool to visit next.
- If you like cruises, you’ll like all-inclusives. I heard a guest describe it as a “cruise ship on land” and I agree.
- Location is pretty much irrelevant; I would choose the nicest resort in the easiest to get to location. You’re really going for the sand, sea and babysitter. Don’t make it too complicated.
- Activities are probably a lot less important than you think. It’s hot. The beach and pools are lovely. You’re on vacation. Waiters come by with mai tais on a regular basis. Chances are you’ll do 1/2 the kayaking, surfing, and trekking you think you’ll do.
- I would go high-end or not at all, especially when kids are involved. Luxury AI vs Lower scale AI is not Vendoming because you never leave the resort. Your entire experience: food, daycare, customer service, etc. is raised or lowered based on the resort you choose. For couples I think the calculation is a bit different. I’m thinking as much about childcare as some of the other elements. I MIGHT be willing to downscale food, etc., but I won’t scrimp on the quality of the kid’s program.
- I’ve never had a worse case of Gilded Cage Syndrome. GCS, or 5 star disease, is the strange affliction that scrubs your brain of all motivation to do anything but stay in the Most. Amazing. Spot. Ever. For me it was here:
- That said, I would choose the lowest level room possible. I would never say that on a cruise, but it’s so easy to walk to the nearest coffee bar and grab a chair facing the ocean that I don’t see paying for the upgrades.
- Even the lowest room possible is going to be pricier than you will possibly imagine. I’ll go into Beaches’ pricing during the specific review, but you pay to play.
- Hard core travel hackers will find little to love about all-inclusive resorts. If you only travel on hotel points, feel free to skip this post as AI’s (with the exception of Hyatt) are pretty hard to hack. Unless you break out convertible points, you’ll have to dole out the cash. There are a couple of (poor value for a credit pull) co-branded credit cards and Sandals/Beaches has a rewards program that gives a free week after 70 nights (cumulative) , but that’s about it.
- Diversity might be an issue. I notice the staff disparity on cruise ships too but think it’s worth noting. It seems the management at many cruise lines and all-inclusives is almost entirely European and the staff is almost entirely Caribbean and Asian. I wondered if it was just me so asked a friend of color and before I could get my question out she answered “yes”. No one noticed any ill treatment at all, but the optics are there.
I’m sure you’re going to ask the bottom line question: would you go again or, more importantly, would you recommend it?
Would I recommend All Inclusive Resorts? Yes, with qualifications. I think all-inclusive can actually be good value for a few specific groups of people, which is a post of its own.
Would I go again? Surprisingly, I would (again, with qualifications). Not the answer I was expecting to give when I left. I’ll go into detail as to why soon.