Live large and spend less on a Caribbean vacation
Off-property excursions may also
require a fee. Every all-inclusive says
“No tipping,” but the reality can be
different: employees are paid well but
may expect a tip, though you’re not
obligated to give one, says Fred Reed,
an all-inclusive-resort specialist based
in Asheville, North Carolina.
THE GOLF COAST
Golf is often part
of an all-inclusive
here: Aruba’s Divi
Village Golf &
AN ALL-INCLUSIVE Caribbean
resort used to mean three meals a
day plus the three B’s—beach, booze,
and a bedroom—all for one low price.
Now, thanks in part to increased com-
petition, it’s more like a land-based
luxury cruise that doesn’t charge
extra for, well, almost anything, from
in-room dining to free rounds of golf.
And since you pay upfront, you don’t
get hit with surprise charges. All-
inclusive resorts are available for
every taste and wallet, so before you
book, ask these four key questions.
what you get for the price. Airfare?
Premium wines? Unlimited tennis
and golf? Sports such as kayaking and
sailing are typically gratis, though
industry leaders Sandals (888-726-
3257; sandals.com) and Super Clubs
(800-467-8737; superclubs.com) also
include scuba diving and water-skiing.
Chains with multiple resorts within a
destination—such as Iberostar (888-
923-2722; iberostar.com), which has
five properties along the same stretch
of Mexico’s Riviera Maya—may offer
reciprocity: stay at one property and
you can use the facilities or dine at all
or some of the others.
Whom does the resort cater to?
Some brands—including Beaches
(800-232-2437; beaches.com), Club
Med (800-258-2633; clubmed.us), and
most Breezes re-
such as Couples
cater to twosomes. If you love mile-long
buffets and loathe dinner-jacket dress
codes, you might prefer the more casual
Riu (888-748-4990; riu.com). Size
makes a difference, too: a big property
may mean crowded beaches and longer
waits for popular watersports.
COURTESY OF DIVI RESORTS
What does all-inclusive include?
Ads use terms such as super-inclusive
and ultra-inclusive—which can sometimes mean “sort of inclusive.” A true
all-inclusive should give you lodging, all meals and snacks, unlimited
beverages (from sodas to liquor), all
nonmotorized watersports and on-site activities, plus nightly entertainment. The various chains and resorts
ratchet things up from there, so ask
How much are the extras?
Even top all-inclusives ding you for
add-ons. You’ll typically pay for spa
treatments, though the Grand Lido
Negril and Grand Lido Braco (800-
467-8737; grandlido.com) throw in a
manicure and pedicure. Golfers may
find caddies and carts are mandatory
but not included in the package price.
Are there discounts?
As more resorts open for business,
expect competitors to boost value-added deals. Divi Village Golf & Beach
Resort (800-367-3484; diviresorts.com)
on Aruba offers free golf after 3:00
P.M. throughout 2009. A 30-minute
massage awaits guests who book three
nights at Antigua’s Hermitage Bay
Some of the best deals are in hurricane-prone September or October. The
odds of being hit by a hurricane are
low, but consider travel insurance
and resorts that make guarantees. If a
hurricane strikes a SuperClubs resort
during your stay, for instance, you’ll be
reimbursed for disrupted nights and
receive a voucher for a visit the same
month the next year. —Laura Daily