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6 Classic Mistakes You’re Making When Booking an All-Inclusive Resort

woman in a resort by a pool
Written by Suzy Guese

This blog post was updated on November 28, 2019.

The idea of soft sandy beaches, sunshine, and poolside bars lure travelers into booking an all-inclusive resort under the pretense that no wallets will be necessary. It can seem as though relaxation and a good time are guaranteed. However, all-inclusive resorts are not all created equal. Some may be geared toward young twenty-somethings with themed pool parties each night while others might actually nickel and dime you with fees when you get there. Be sure you aren’t making these classic mistakes when you book an all-inclusive resort.

Booking a Resort That’s Not Really an All-Inclusive

cocktails by the poolside

It sounds simple enough: if you want to book an all-inclusive resort, you look for a property that says it’s all-inclusive. However, depending on where in the world you are looking to book, from the Canary Islands to Cabo San Lucas, all-inclusive can mean different things to different properties. Before you fork over your credit card details, be sure that the rate is truly all-inclusive, in that it covers your meals and grants you access to the amenities you want. If there are fees attached to every amenity or you can only eat at one of the resort’s five restaurants, you might want to consider a different resort. If you expect alcoholic drinks to be included, you would be disappointed to show up to a resort that only includes water and soft drinks.

Failing to Check the Resort’s Demographic

kids splashing around in the swimming pool

Those glossy photos of people relaxing on the beach with cocktails in hand can sway the traveler into booking an all-inclusive resort, no questions asked. However, that peaceful resort pictured in Cancun might be hiding the waterslides and screaming children. If you want peace and quiet on your all-inclusive getaway, you probably don’t want to pick a resort that allows kids. On the opposing side, if you want to bring the whole family, you don’t want to select a resort that has no amenities for children. All-inclusive resorts cater to different demographics, from couples to kids to retirees. Be sure you’re doing your due diligence and determine who the resort in question caters to before you book your reservation.

Selecting Peak Travel Dates for All-Inclusive Resorts

Person booking hotel room on tablet

Most travelers book an all-inclusive because they want a dose of sunshine and relaxation. However, you can quickly find more frustration when you arrive at a resort during peak travel season. That relaxing picture of a deserted pool can quickly fade away if you book your all-inclusive getaway when everyone else does. If you can, try to avoid Christmas, spring break, and mid-summer. These are all popular times for all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Spring and fall will lend fewer crowds to fight over a lounge chair by the pool or a table at the resort’s one restaurant.

Ready to start planning an all-inclusive getaway? Find your vacation package right here! 

Forgetting Gratuity

Some change left on plate as a tip

Some travelers book an all-inclusive because they truly don’t want to open their wallet once on their trip. If you’re hoping to never see your pocketbook on your travels, you can quickly panic upon your first meal at the resort or when the bellhop brings your bags to your room. Gratuity is not always black and white at resorts. Some all-inclusive resorts will not allow employees to accept tips as they are included in the all-inclusive rate. Others expect patrons to tip. Before you book a resort, be sure you are selecting one that fits the gratuity policy you want. If you prefer to tip based on the quality of service, go for the resort where gratuity is not included. If you don’t want to even open your wallet, select the resort that includes tips.

Paying for Amenities You Won’t Use

a couple enjoys a massage at the spa

All-inclusive resorts come in many shapes and sizes. Some are like their own villages, offering dozens of dining options, pools, activities, and entertainment. However, if you only plan on using one pool or dining at a few restaurants, you might be paying extra for services and amenities you won’t use. Before you book your trip, be sure the amenities included are actually going to be of use to you. If the price tag seems high, it’s probably due to all of the amenities and services offered.

Neglecting Researching the Area Around the Resort

two people relaxing on a beach

The marketing photos used by all-inclusive resorts can make it look as though the resort is just off a deserted beach. You have to look beyond the photos and dig a bit deeper. To avoid disappointment when you arrive at a beach resort crammed into a tiny stretch of sand or one that’s actually miles from the nearest beach, research the area around the resort. Look at satellite images and street views to be sure the resort is depicted in the location you expect. Also, if you tend to get stir crazy because you never leave the confines of a resort, be sure to book one with things to do beyond the resort.

Do you love all-inclusive resorts? What other tips would you add to the list? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at