Is an All-Inclusive Worth It?

Old Jan 14th, 2005, 10:26 AM
  #1  
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Is an All-Inclusive Worth It?

Is an All-Inclusive deal worth it for a light alcohol-drinking couple? I'm assuming that the answer doesn't matter if it's an All-Inclusive in Cancun, Grand Cayman, St. Lucia or wherever(if I'm wrong, please say so), because at this point I don't know where we will end up going. I'm more interested in whether we should explore the All-Inclusive option at all, considering that we might have one alcoholic drink during the day and a glass or two of wine at dinner. Thanks.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 05:52 PM
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This thread has been posted many times...I guess it all depends on what you are looking for on your vacation. If its not having to worry where you are going to eat lunch or dinner at or if all you want to do is veg out at the beach and not have a care in the world then AI is the best. Thats my kind of vacation no worries or hassels just sun sand and a good book...We dont drink either.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 07:18 PM
  #3  
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Sorry, maybe I should narrow my question. I'm more concerned about subsidizing those who drink more alcohol than we do. So, if I go to an AI and don't really drink, is that a waste of money?
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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twins,
by your description no it doesn't sounds like an all inclusive is for you. Let me know what may be more in line with what you prefer and I might be able to recommend some choices. I too I am not all inclusive but do so when it benefits, big group usually and we're drinkers. But typically the least expensive way to go is rent your own apt or villa, some come with staff or other perks, etc. These are generally cheaper than any resort prices, you pay as you go, buy what you need and in many cases have your own cook. For places on St. Lucia for example check out:
www.tropicalvillas.com
Other islands if you have interest let me know.
Best of luck and happy travels.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 08:25 PM
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You might also consider looking at luxurylink.com and bidding on a villa in the Caribbean. They have some that are definately great deals, and, of course, alcohol is not included in the price, so you wouldn't be paying for that unless you wanted your staff to get you some.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 10:18 PM
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We are not drinkers at all (not even one) but for us all-inclusive is the only way to go. We've done A/I in the Bahamas and in Turks & Caicos, and will continue to go A/I every place we go in the future. It is a must for us.

We don't feel that our money has paid for everyone else to drink. In fact, much to our surprise, we have not seen people "out of control" from alcohol, even though it flows freely for the asking. Though sodas and virgin type frozen drinks are all we order from the bar, it is nice to be able to get them whenever you want and not shell out money each time.

We really appreciate knowing where our next meal will come from, and not having to worry about how much it might cost is a huge plus. Another big plus to A/I is the no tipping policy. Tipping for every little thing can lead you to the poor house fast.

Our style of travel may be different from a lot of people...we tend to check into a resort and stay fairly close to it until the day we go home. We don't venture out a great deal. Those folks that like to explore the island they visit, and don't spend much time at their hotel, think that A/I goers are missing out on the island adventure and culture. We go to "the islands" for snorkeling and total relaxation, and not for island exploring. We choose islands and resorts that have great beaches to snorkel in, and that's where we spend most of the day (we explore the underwater island).

Another huge plus with A/I resorts (at least in our opinion) is that you know how much your vacation is costing you before you leave home (except for a few extras you may choose to do). This makes budgeting for vacation much easier.

What ever your reason is for going on vacation may have a lot to do with deciding to A/I or not. If you want to spend a lot of time away from your hotel while exploring the sights and shopping, then A/I may not be for you. But, if you want lots of R&R while hanging out at the beach or pool, and you don't plan to venture out much, then A/I is probably right up your alley.

One of my co-workers and his wife had their first A/I experience during the holidays. When he returned to work I asked him about his trip. The first words out of his mouth were, "Man, that all inclusive way is the only way to go." He only told me what I already knew myself.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 11:33 PM
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LUVvacation,
Forgive me now for my candid response to your reply to this thread. It would really not be necessary for you to leave the country, there are places you can get sand and a resort. In fact, people with your mindset should not leave the country as you reflect on the rest of us (The Ugly American). To go somewhere and not even have a glimmer of desire to see the place you've come to nor meet any locals is completely beyond any comprehension I have in travelling.

I wish you the best of luck finding that pile of sand somewhere but I additionally feel sorry for you to think you've spent all that money to go somewhere and not truly enjoy or most importantly understand the place that you have travelled to.

This is really pretty sad, however again good luck and happy travels.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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Traveler 863, I read your comment to LUVvacation and although I understand what you are saying to him/her, and although I personally cannot imagine not getting out and seeing the island, I think there may be something else in the thread that should not be missed. I'm not sure where LUVvaaction lives, but it's -9 degrees here but as I sit here and look out at our frozen lake, the thought of warm sand, water and snorkeling sound like heaven. I believe most people here would pay good money to sit around a pool all day. We were in both Sanibel Island and Kauai last winter and there was a huge difference. In Florida, we were in jeans and sweatshirts in the morning and evening. In Kauai, we were in bathing suits, T-shirts and shorts. So, you can't compare the U.S. and the Caribbean in the winter. (Unless you're talking the Hawaiian islands).
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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I agree its 25 below zero and the wind is blowing up our butts, so finding sun and sand this time of year in Chicago would be pretty hard.... We too prefer an A/I so I know where LUVvaction is comming from. We do venture out and meet the locals and try to experience the islands we visit. Happy travels to everyone.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 12:50 PM
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Different strokes, folks. On our last trip, we did almost nothing but sit on the beach and read and decide where we were going for dinner. No way was I going to miss out on all of the great eats beyond our "home base".

I think that where you visit can make a big difference in this. Some places have no good alternatives for food. Some places aren't safe for venturing out.

Regardless, some folks like to completely unplug. Not my style but I can certainly understand it.

There is no right or wrong way to go on this issue. It's your vacation...do it your way.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 01:10 PM
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We travel a lot to the Caribbean and don't drink much either, so we feel pretty much the same way about the all-inclusives. We like the idea of not having to fuss with where to go for meals, so we usually pick a nice, upscale resort with one or more well-reviewed restaurants (not an AI), then buy the meal package (most have either an MAP or full AP option). This is a low-hassle way to go, and you are paying for just what you use.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 01:43 PM
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Except for very high end AI places (such as Jumby Bay for one example), many AI resorts are more about quantity over quality, and this applies to food, rooms, drinks, and activities.

I personally do not care for the typical AI resort for a variety of reasons. A big one is huge negative impact that they have on the local economy. Another one is that I prefer places that are more intimate. Another is the overall quality that many AIs provide. In the case of Sandals, I would rather pay less and get much more elsewhere. (Sandals probably gets the worst rap around here because it is the most visible of the chain all inclusives, but there are certainly others. And with the prices they command, many people are disappointed with what they get there.)

Lots of folks love the AI concept, including those who don't drink many alcoholic beverages, and you may find yourself to be a part of that group. The best thing you can do is research any destination, AI or not, and be armed with as much information as possible about it ahead of time to avoid vacation disppointment.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 03:36 PM
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To Traveler863
I don't understand your harsh response to the comments I posted above. I consider myself a thick skinned individual, and my feathers are not easily ruffled by others remarks to me. However, you struck a nerve and I feel I must comment (or maybe defend myself).

First, you "assumed" an awful lot about things I said. I admitted that we don't venture away from a resort very much...I did not say that we never get out and about to see things and talk with people. I love to see new things and talk to the locals about their island. It's just that we go to the same island more than once, and we do explore on our first time to a particular place. After that we enjoy doing things at the resort, and in the water. I also have many conversations with the staff at the resort (and I assume they are locals).

Second, how in the world did you get the impression that I referred to anyone as "ugly Americans?" I was only trying to make the observation that some people do other things than we do when we go on vacation. I simply stated that our style of travel may be different from others. I did not say that our method was right and everyone else is doing it wrong. I keep the attitude "to each his own." I even admitted that some people would say that we were the ones doing it wrong.

In addition to our island vacation in May, we go on summer vacations in this good ole' USA. We live in Maryland, and enjoy traveling everywhere.

You must know that we all vacation for a variety of reasons. Don't feel sorry for me for the things that I enjoy. Not once have I come home from vacation thinking "Boy, was that a waste of my hard earned money."

Thanks to all that understand our love for A/I resorts. I intend to keep going.

Traveler863, please read my first post again and see if you really think I was putting anyone down. If I did, I truly apologize.
Happy traveling to all, where ever you go.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 05:34 PM
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Here's a slight twist to the thread!

What about an all inclusive resort (specifically Beaches Negril) for half of a vacation with the remainder spent at a boutique hotel on the cliffs?

We are a family (with two young teenage kids) who LOVE travel around the world to remote places where we always spend our time sightseeing and experiencing the local culture. Except for the several times my husband and I visited a handful of Caribbean Islands before kids we have never done a beach resort vacation. This is not usually our style nor interest.

But, we decided to do it once in Jamaica and the kids seem very excited by the whole mega resort deal. I am afraid I will be dissapointed though I am going into it with eyes wide open.

What do you think? I hate to waste the $ on a bad deal or find a place with dated accomodations, etc. We aare excited to get out and about (trips planned with guides) once we move to the small hotel but what about spending 4 days in the AI? Is it that bad? Will we be utterly dissapointed?

Opinions???



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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 04:09 PM
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LUVvacation,
No need for any ruffled feathers here. I apologize for my candid response. It is only MY opinion towards travel and it will vary from individual to individual. You are absolutely correct that different people have different styles of traveling. The beauty of this board is for all to express their opinions and readers can then really think about what is truly best for THEM!

Further apology for "ugly american" remark...that was out of line. This is a term used for Americans who travel to places expecting or down right demanding things be just like at home and/or insisting people speak English. That was certainly not the case with your post.

Happy travels and do what YOU enjoy!
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 10:25 PM
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Traveler863
I actually meant to tell you that I did accept your apology for your candid remarks the last time I posted, but I honestly forgot. So, I'll say it now, I accept your apology, no hard feelings.

You and I actually share the same feelings on some things. I too think it's unreasonable for us to visit other countries and expect things to be just like home. I also feel that people shouldn't expect everyone to speak english when they visit countries that speak another language.

Oh well, I guess we're not so different after all. Thanks for your response.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 10:38 PM
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To karinw

I think trying both types of hotels during your vacation would be an excellent idea. Then you could certainly judge for yourself which way you prefer.

I recommend that you visit the website www.tropictravelonline.com and check out the comments on Beaches that are posted there. The people that post on that forum seem to be experts on Beaches and Sandals resorts, as well as other all inclusive resort chains. Just like this Fodors forum, the TTO forum has a lot of people willing to answer any question you have.

I'm not sure if you will need to register to post a question, or if you only need to register if you want to answer a question. Either way, it's painless. Good luck on you research.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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karinw

I have done both AI and non AI in Jamaica and enjoyed them both. I went to Swept Away twice - before it was Couples and loved it there. At that point, I was an AI fan because I thought it would be a hassle to arrange meals, activities otherwise. I had been to AIs on other islands and I always got really bored with the food, however. Swept Away food was better than most, but I felt like my life revolved around when meals were served and the dinners took a big chunk out of the best part of the day. My last trip to Negril was with my teenage daughter and we went non AI and I'll admit that I cannot imagine returning to AI now. She loved Jamaica and has not stopped harassing me about going back. We loved walking the beach picking out little restaurants and shops that we wanted to try and she loved shopping with the vendors. We met great people at the hotel and would get together with them at breakfast and get recommendations for that day's adventures. I ended up loving the lack of structure with regard to food. A couple of days, we just snacked all day along the beach - patties, banana bread, homemade cookies and fruit from the vendors and then had a wonderful Italian meal (yes, Italian) right on the beach. It is helpful in Negril that you can just stroll a few hundred yards to great and cheap restaurants. She and I both really love the Jamaican people too. They treated her like a young lady - not like a bothersome teenager - and she soaked it up. About Beaches - I have not stayed there but kids seem to love it. The beach is beautiful there and big. You can do a lot of walking from there. We stayed at Coco La Palm and would recommend it - great stretch of beach, great staff, great location.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 12:43 PM
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LUVvacation - Thanks for the tip on Beaches reviews at tropictravelline. You do get the sense that these folks are real Sandals devotees so I don't know about objectivity - or I guess I should say - they have already decided they love AIs. My problem is, I know I don't, but I'm trying to figure out if we can go for four days and make the best of it. (We've never done an AI before) I would be really angry at myself if we get there and everyone is so disappointed. I think we understand what we are giving up but we hope to get something in return.

The girls are exicted about having freedom at the resort, multiple pools, water slides, swim up bars, teen disco, etc. You get the picture?? Although they don't seem to really want to meet other kids. They are pretty close to each other and are used to usually being some of the only kids around on our typical vacations.

Actually, if we keep the reservation I want us all to go and be open to a good time, albeit a different kind of experience that what we are used to.

I think knowing we will head up to Rockhouse for another 5 days with options for great local food and exploring around Negril and further with a guide will help.

Cartera - Your positive experience with your daughter in Jamaica is heartening to hear. Your description of your days sound like what we want - (after we do "the thing" at Beaches!). My older daughter (age 15) would much prefer to stay at Rockhouse the entire trip but my 13 year old daughter somehow needs to get this mega resort out of her system. They've stayed in some spectacular hotels around the world but never a mega resort - and they've never been to the Carribean.

It's also wonderful to hear your comments about your experiences with local people. It's for those kinds of experiences that are precisely the reasons why we travel! I read so much about how people are leary of Jamaica because it isn't a wholly "Americanized" locale. We have had some of our best vacations in third world countries (and believe me with some of our most luxurious hotels!!) with opportunities to interact with interesting and different people.

We hope Jamaica will give us the R&R beach deal WITH an opportunity to realize an "authentic" travel experience.

Thanks,
Karin

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Old Jan 18th, 2005, 05:54 PM
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Karin,
What time of year will you be going? Many people complain about the higglers on the beach - they are there - they just don't bother me that much. My daughter got her hair braided right away at the hotel so no one bothered her about it. By the second day, people seemed to recognize us and left us alone. Not one person offered us drugs - probably because my daughter was present. No one approached us while at Coco and they won't bother you at Beaches or Rockhouse either. My daughter was quite the little bargainer. She could take $5 and come back with gifts for all her friends. We also took very little cash with us on the beach so we could legitimately say we had no money. She found a $10 purse she had to have and only had $5. The guy told her to take it and bring him the rest the next day. She did it but was amazed that he did that - sure wouldn't happen at the mall would it??
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