You’ve seen the advertisements and brochures and you are looking forward to booking everything. You found a very nice resort billed as “all-inclusive” and you wonder what it really means.
All-inclusive vacation packages have become a trend nowadays. All-inclusive generally means that the basic trip costs are already compressed in one package so you typically don’t need to take out your wallet and pay extra cash on top of what you already paid for.
Many people have an impression that when you book an all-inclusive resort, you are covered for everything but when you actually break down all the inclusions, you will realize that there is no package that actually cover the same things. There will always be slight differences so it is important to do a bit of research and comparison before booking the first all-inclusive resort that pops up in your screen.
What is then the meaning of all-inclusive? We will break it down for you here for better understanding. When we speak of traditional implications, all-inclusive vacation packages mean that they already include the following:
– Full-board meals (from breakfast to dinner)
– Drinks (alcoholic and non-alcohol)
– Taxes and fees (environmental fees, terminal fees etc)
– Shuttle services
– Activities and entertainment (tours and excursions)
In reality, the fine print doesn’t always cover all of the above items mentioned or at least there are still some exclusions not mentioned clearly in the list. Generally though, with all-inclusive packages, majority of the most important basic costs are already covered so if you have no other fancy requirements, you will certainly save time and money in booking and traveling. Traditional all-inclusive concept is the basis for all the modern packages we see now although the options have become endless in terms of the costs and budget. Now, we have different types of all-inclusive packages in the Philippines – basic and luxury.
- Basic all-inclusive – This type includes the basic costs like food, accommodation, drinks, day tours and fees. Usage of sports and water facilities like kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, snorkelling gears, billiards, darts and board games are also included. If you want to use the gym and the business room that is also usually covered along with internet/Wi-Fi connection in the rooms and public areas. Most activities like island hopping, snorkelling, beach volleyball, tennis, sunset cruises and day tours are also included.
What it does not usually include are:
– Premium alcoholic drinks (top shelf kind like champagne, some cocktails etc);
– When it comes to food, some resort only include the ala-carte menus and so if you want to dine in their specialty restaurant, you will have to pay a surcharge;
– In terms of sports and water equipment, motorized equipment like jet skis, sailboats, hobbycats and waterbikes are not included;
– Activities like scuba diving, golf, extra-ordinary tours like exclusive tours to a private island etc.;
– Room service
– Massage and Spa
– Airport Shuttle
- Luxury All-inclusive – This type is on a different level and the options and coverage are a lot more comprehensive than the basic. If you have the money, luxury all-inclusive will give you a different kind of experience that you will not get in a basic type. Here are the inclusions:
– Pool, room and beach butlers
– Concierge service
– 24-hour room service
– Private excursions meaning you may have the entire boat all to yourself while cruising or island-hopping
– Your own chef who can prepare gourmet cuisine or all-day buffet with comprehensive menus that include expensive ingredients like lobster and beef
– Complimentary spa treatments
– Usage and access to VIP lounges, kiddie rooms and theatre
– Airport shuttle
– All non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks including top shelf brands/premium alcohol like champagne
– Use of motorized water and sports equipment
– Exclusive dining options like table setting on a beach or on a private island
What it does not include:
– Souvenir items
– Extraordinary excursions that are not on the typical list of their excursions
– Scuba Diving gears
– Entrance or resort sharing (for chain resorts, sometimes access to their other more opulent resorts are restricted to their guests only)
Tips on how to find the best all-inclusive package for you and your family:
- DO a lot of research and comparison: Looking at just one resort and focusing in one area will not enable you to find the best deals out there. You need to do your own research and make a list of all the hotels or resorts that you find and then tabulate their inclusions and exclusions and then compare.
- Plan out your budget and itinerary: When planning, you need to be able to know what you want for you and your family. Make a list of your priorities like which aspects of the travel is more important and much needed by your group. Is it the room, the excursions or the food? Try to make an itinerary and check the individual costs for necessities and basic costs like how much do you usually spend on food for everyone in the group when you go to a restaurant or how much does a private boat costs etc. This way, when you write down all the individual costs, you can compare how much money you will save if you take the all-inclusive package offered or if you will save more when you do it ala-carte.
- Read the fine print: All resorts with all-inclusive packages provide a detailed fine print of what’s included and not so take your time to read everything so you will not be surprised if ever you incur a surcharge for something. Not everyone reads the fine print and yes it is boring much like the terms and conditions but it is worth it.
- Remember you get what you pay for: This saying applies to everything especially to all-inclusive resorts. If it seems too good to be true, it most probably is. SO while it is always ideal to go for the cheapest out there, it is not always the best because in the end, you probably will shell out more cash than you are willing to spend.
- Ask for an expert’s help: If you are a meticulous person and you have no problem doing everything on your own, by all means do so. But if you are busy and barely have time to plan and do the research, it is best to employ an expert to help you with all your travel bookings and itineraries. Travel agencies have local connections and they can arrange everything for you for affordable prices. You’d be surprised to find so many good options out there. You just need to know what you want and you need to set your budget for everything and the travel agent will do everything for you. Save yourself the hassle and pick a reliable travel agency.
- Inclusive doesn’t mean all-inclusive: Do not be misled by advertisements saying “inclusive resorts”. It only means that they offer some services as an inclusion to staying with them but it doesn’t mean they include the basic all-inclusive options. Watch out for words like, some, NOT, typically, surcharge and NO.