1 big rule for choosing an all-inclusive

Choosing an all-inclusive Bahia Principe Sian Ka'an Penthouse Suite may not always come with an ocean view
Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an is gorgeous, but many don’t discover it’s a 15 minute tram to the beach until they get there
(Photo Credit: Bahia Principe)

Enjoying the ocean view from your room balcony, lingering over a coffee that came with your full room service breakfast. That is a common sight at many all-inclusives, and one that seems to encapsulate what many enjoy about them. Unfortunately, it’s also not available at every all-inclusives, even if people would expect it to be.

There are countless TripAdvisor reviews of travelers who missed something when choosing an all-inclusive that was key to a person giving a poor review, but it is also something that could have been discovered with even the tiniest bit of research ahead of time. It’s why I want to stress one rule for choosing an all-inclusive you have never visited:

“Know before you go”

It’s a simple enough rule, but I want to clarify it. Picture yourself in paradise, now what does that look like? It could be a major aspect, like sitting by a gorgeous white sand beach. It could also be a tiny detail, like staying at an adults-only all-inclusive that is truly adults-only.

You need to understand what you want and keep it in mind when you are choosing an all-inclusive resort, because each one is different. One of my favorite things about the Hyatt Zilara Cancun is being able to nurse a coffee at their ocean view coffee shop. Many hotels surprisingly don’t offer a true coffee shop, and others may be missing a key feature that you want, such as having a view of the ocean from your room.

Ocean view coffee shop Casa del Cafe at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun | Photo Credit: Hyatt Zilara

Choosing an all-inclusive with this rule

This part isn’t hard, have a checklist with what you want (and also what you don’t!) and keep it handy when booking an all-inclusive vacation. Also keep it updated! If you are a family and notice that a hotel has something your kids would love (say, the cool water park at Beaches Turks and Caicos), write it down so you remember to look at the next place you book.

When you find an amazing all-inclusive resort that you think matches, spend a couple minutes and confirm it has your needs. Check the Facebook fan group (every resort has at least one!), the resort’s TripAdvisor reviews, and Google reviews. All 3 are searchable for keywords (Google requires you to get to the reviews on Google Maps to do that). Even a noticeable absence on the official website can be a red flag that should cause you to do some digging.

The most important part is knowing that you may not check everything off the list, but at least you learned the downsides before choosing an all inclusive, ensuring it doesn’t surprise you after arrival.

Use your checklist again and again

You don’t need to do this every single time. Make a checklist, and when you come back, quickly add or remove what is needed to make the vacation better. Next time you are choosing an all-inclusive, re-use the list to save yourself time and another potential headache.

The takeaway

The next time you are booking an all-inclusive resort vacation, write down a quick list of what the resort should have to make you satisfied. Then read the hotel website and TripAdvisor/Google reviews to see if anything you really want is reviewed in a negative fashion. If you’re not sure, join the resort’s Facebook group and ask. A 30 minute investment now will save you a vacation’s worth of frustration on your all inclusive getaway.

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Ben Duffy
Ben has visited all-inclusives for years, enjoying the ability to watch the ocean from a Bali Bed with a fresh margarita in hand and not a care in the world
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