By Keith Still
All-inclusive resorts and vacation packages have been around for a while, but they seem to have become really popular during the economic downturn for obvious reasons. Your room, food, often your entertainment and just about everything else to do with your vacation is included in the cost upfront.
On top of that, already-stressed Atlantans find much of the stress related to planning activities, setting up transportation and other normal holiday hassles melts away at all-inclusive resorts set up to make your one-stop shop vacation run as smoothly as possible. That is the point of a vacation, right – to take a break and get away from the everyday things that can wear you down?
Years ago, we took a romantic, anniversary vacation to a small, all-inclusive destination, and I remember thinking several times how nice it was that we didn’t have to worry about grabbing our wallets before we walked out the door. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were fabulous. We dressed up for cocktail hour, and ordered whatever we pleased. We grabbed bikes, canoes and small boats whenever we wanted to go for a ride or hit the water. If we wanted to go horseback riding, we just had to give the staff enough time to saddle the horses up and we were off. It was also nice that there were only about 12 other people (not including staff) on the island with us at the time. That vacation was exactly what we were looking for at the time – romantic and relaxing.
For some reason, though, we have never taken another all-inclusive vacation. Now, with five people in the family, I find myself thinking that we really need to consider an all-inclusive holiday this year – this time at a bigger, more activity-filled resort. So I have begun researching possibilities, and have found that you don’t have to travel too far.
A short flight away, the Caribbean is home to many all-inclusive options. Travel guide publisher Arthur Frommer recently included some notable bargains at resorts in the beautiful Dominican Republic for less than $900 per person for seven-night stays in the month of March. The all-inclusive arrangements included lodging, meals and unlimited drinks at the Ocean Blue Ocean Sand Resort and the Sirenis Cocotal Resort in Punta Cana.
Further south, Frommer has also highlighted an all-inclusive 10-night motorcoach tour through every major site in Costa Rica for less than $1,000 per person. (Arrangements included meals, accommodations, daily escorted sightseeing and entrance fees, though airfare to San Jose is not included.)
Caribbean resorts that welcome children and include activities like boating, scuba diving and the like in the package can easily be found through an Internet search. Among those I saw were Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas and Caneel Bay in St. John. If you want to stay stateside, Amelia Island Plantation in Fernandina Beach, Fla. and Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. are two family-friendly all-inclusives within easy reach for Atlantans.
Have you ever taken an all-inclusive vacation? What are the upsides and the downsides of an all-inclusive getaway? Do you have any tips for all-inclusive first-timers?
Where is your favorite all-inclusive vacation destination?