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5 Reasons Why All-Inclusives Are a Bad Idea!

What is your take on all-inclusive resorts? Are you an avid believer of paying a flat fee (or so you think!) and everything being included? After you have read this post, I would recommend referring to both the positives (see tomorrow)and negatives and considering which applies to you. I certainly am not leaning either way at the moment and I am sure you could provide convincing arguments to prove or disprove either option so for now let’s just focus on the downright drawbacks of staying somewhere where everything is “allegedly” included.

1. Everything is free! (Or is it????)

5 reasons why an all-inclusive vacation is a bad idea

I started the “positive” aspects of all-inclusive resorts by indicating that everything was free once you arrive at the all-inclusive resort. However, are we all really that gullible that we truly believe this. Of course there are hidden fees, resorts are always wanting to get the extra buck if they can. No salesman out there is not looking to take advantage of the situation and get as much money out of you as they can. Let’s look at the basics… You pay the initial all-inclusive fee and you have your room selected with everything included. Ok fair enough, at least until you arrive at the resort and begin the arduous check-in process. “Would you like to consider an upgrade today sir/madam?” We have all heard this spiel before and this will always continue and they just love to enhance this by stating they have a “special” available just for you! Here is the first way they can get some extra money out of you! And many of us would probably be convinced to do this as we probably think, “Ah well, we won’t be spending anything else on this trip, so let’s get the extravagant suite for an extra $150+ per night (at least!!)”

What do we have next for hidden fees? The good old alcohol! Many of us like to enjoy a quick glass of chardonnay or the like and AI resorts indicate that alcohol is included but what they don’t emphasize is that they offer the cheapest wine/spirits possible for free and anything with a decent taste or brand will cost you the proverbial arm and a leg.

When it comes to food, your food at a sit-down restaurant may be provided free of charge, but your snacks are typically not covered. This often includes snacks or small meals purchased at resort specialty shops and vending machines. If your snacks and small meals are not covered, you can prevent the extra expenses by eating a large meal.

I am sure there are other hidden costs that we could probably write a full blog on just on there own but for now let’s just stew on these thoughts as we move onwards…. can it get any more depressing?

2. Boredom sets in rapidly

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If you are like me (and trust me I am not suggesting that you are!), you are probably always itching to do something different. I have never been the sort of person (sorry Heather!) that likes sitting around, relaxing on the beach for hours and hours doing zilch! You may be thinking, well AI resorts have a whole bunch of activities that you can take part in so surely you would never get bored. Well this may be true to an extent but only if you are happy staying within the confines of the resort. I am not suggesting that this is like being stranded on Alcatraz but sometimes just being able to get out and explore is all tourists want to do. You can still do this…but it links very nicely back to drawback #1 that you will be paying extra cash for it even though you thought everything was AI!

3. Poor quality cuisine

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Ok, so let’s imagine you are able to get through those hidden fees and you are happy just relaxing on the beach or by the pool. Surely you are going to want to take advantage of that delectable cuisine and various options that are available. Well, by all accounts the food on offer at all-inclusive is very much hit and miss. There are of course exceptions where food quality is of the highest level and service is excellent, but all too frequently you read a plethora of reviews that state the exact opposite. Bland, below average, disappointing, lack of selection are all descriptions that I have seen when reviewing all-inclusive menu options. Buffets you can pretty much expect this given that they are preparing food in mass production, in many ways similar to casino buffets but a la carte menus should not be like this and unfortunately the number of negative reviews that are out there surely indicate something!

4. Time-Share Information

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One of the main reasons for opting to go to an all-inclusive resort is generally because you are heading somewhere that is remote and where you can partake in ultimate relaxation. Well if the resort has anything to do with it, you will likely have to sit through at least one 90 minute session hearing a load of garbage about how you can be part of an amazing adventure to purchasing part of your very own condo or home in the perfect getaway location! Time-shares for the most part are a con and one that resorts love to take advantage of. One tip here if you are reading this and still decide to stick with the advantages, you can say NO to them and opt out of the sessions before they entice you any further.

5. Too much temptations for overindulgence

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This is very similar to the cuisine drawback but if you are fortunate to visit one of those resorts where the food and drink is of the highest caliber, you will be very tempted to take advantage of this and likely suffer from it either during or after the vacation. There is nothing worse than feeling sick and then having to travel/fly back to your hometown. Every study shows that people eat more, sometimes literally twice as much, at an all you can eat buffet. That sounds like fun, and it is, but for some of us it’s probably not a wise choice. The same can certainly be said for alcoholic beverages. Who wouldn’t like the sound of a free bar all day, every day if you like the taste of liquor? When we get home we might be happier to have stayed in a place with a la carte food and drinks because that day after feeling may not really be worth it!

You may be enlightened tomorrow with our post on “5 Reasons to do All-Inclusive Vacation” but don’t worry, whenever I was writing that post I was under no illusions that life in an all-inclusive destination is pure perfection and relaxation. I would like to consider the contrary to this argument and suggest that there are several reasons why opting for all-inclusive may not be the best decision for you.

So now the decision is up to you….! Both of the posts may be a little on the extreme side and it may just be wise to stick somewhere in the middle but surely it is better to consider the pros and cons of an all-inclusive resort to ensure you are doing what is right for you!

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How to Save Money on Family Travel - Exploramum & Explorason

Sunday 30th of July 2017

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Jacquilyn

Saturday 2nd of July 2016

My family and I just returned from our first AI experience in Mexico. Our resort had a tremendous amount of sports included as well as all meals and snacks. I actually lost weight because of all the activities I did every single day. And no one hit us up for timeshares or any added "extras." You are correct though about not venturing out but for one excursion. I look forward to learning Spanish and "the lay of the land" before I spend more time in the actual city. I'm researching Airbnb options. But in defense of the AI, it took the AI to get us here in the first place.

Tamason

Friday 13th of May 2016

I do agree with some of your points however this also comes down to researching the right hotel. We have stayed in a couple of AI in Mexico for example which I would highly recommend to others. One, was part of a chain of hotels, so I could stroll around and visit any of them for food and drinks plus they happily provided premium brands of alcohol and no upselling took place. Add to this the fact that it was cheaper than 2 weeks in a self catering apartment, and why wouldn't you you choose this option. The second hotel we booked was premium AI which meant we had 5 restaurants to choose from all al-a-carte so no awful food left on a hot plate, likewise, if I wanted to sip champagne cocktails all day it was still included in the price. Once again no upselling took place. Would I do AI all the time, no, but when we truly want to relax for a while, why not!

Chris

Wednesday 18th of May 2016

Completely agree with you Tamason! We wrote two separate posts actually, one on the "Good" and this one on the "Bad" of all-inclusives! It really comes down to what you are looking for and the type of vacation you want to experience. For us, we prefer to be able to get out and explore the destination rather than feeling like we should get good value for money for staying at the resort. But there are definitely positives and negatives either way you look at it :)

Sarah

Saturday 6th of February 2016

I totally agree on all these points, especially with the boredom and cuisine. Thanks for sharing.

Cathy

Friday 16th of January 2015

Agree with all of your points. My main reasons for never going to AIs are related to their impacts on the local economy. They do nothing for the local economy..they often bring in their own workforce and source their food non locally. Many staying on the resorts never venture off of them and if they do they are spending a small amount in the local shops. I find it much cheaper to rent an apartment from a local and frequent the local restaurants, grocery stores and fresh fruit and fish markets. Of course I prefer to meet and mingle with local people when I am traveling and get to know their culture. I find it important to be a responsible traveler and to me this means respecting the place you are going to by spending your travel dollars in their country vs handing those dollars over to a multinational corporation