October 09, 2020
By Megan Boley

All-inclusive resorts present an opportunity for planners and travelers to have an unforgettable experience – all without leaving the property. Whether you’re an event professional sourcing resorts to host your future meetings, a traveler dreaming of your next vacation, or a hotel manager looking for ways to increase revenue at your property, this blog post covers everything you need to know about all-inclusive resorts.

In this post, we'll cover:

What is an all-inclusive resort?

It's a question that gets asked often: What is an all-inclusive resort, exactly? On the surface, the answer is simple. All-inclusive resorts are properties in vacation destinations where most of the main elements of the trip are pre-paid: accommodations, unlimited food and drinks, and some activities and entertainment are included in the price. However, not all all-inclusive resorts are the same, and some packages include more things than others. Some properties, for example, might charge extra for certain activities like motorized water sports, or things like airport transfers and alcoholic beverages, while others may include that within a package. 

Like traditional hotels and resorts, all-inclusive resorts have options for different tiers of rooms and suites for guests to choose from, which vary in size and have a range of amenities included.

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For example, Beloved Playa Mujeres in Mexico offers a variety of lodging options, from a swim-up suite to an ocean-view terrace to a two-story beachfront casita. Each room option comes with standard amenities, but the in-room amenities can vary based on the tier of suite selected.

Some all-inclusive resorts will have an extra tier of rooms deemed something like “club,” “preferred members,” or “elite” levels that have enhanced amenities like private lounges, upgraded rooms, and butlers.

At all-inclusive resorts, guests typically receive a wristband to show the resort staff that they're eligible for pre-paid services. These wristbands can vary in design, color, etc. depending on the different services or packages purchased. 

How do they differ from non-all-inclusive resorts?

With all-inclusive resorts, there is little-to-no planning necessary on the part of the guests. They simply choose their room, and just about everything else is taken care of.

Some traditional resorts and hotels will have an all-inclusive plan as an option for guests to select if that’s the kind of experience they want to have. Those typically include meals, drinks, and taxes in the room price. It might also include additional activities, but this will vary depending on the hotel.

At a la carte resorts, guests pay as they go. It allows them the freedom to select what they need rather than choosing a whole package of services at a fixed price that they may not necessarily use. Half-board and full-board properties are other options on the market. Full-board includes most meals, but snacks and alcohol cost extra. Similarly, half-board supplies two meals, with snacks and alcohol at an extra cost. Guests who want the option to go offsite and experience the local cuisine and night life without feeling like they’re missing out on the “free” options they’ve already paid for at an all-inclusive resort might be more drawn to these kinds of properties.

What do all-inclusive resorts typically include?

Every resort is different, but as a baseline, all-inclusive resorts include:

  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and soft drinks
  • Lodging
  • Some activities and entertainment

While the name says “all-inclusive,” that doesn’t mean that everything is included. As mentioned above, things like spa treatments, golfing, water sports, and other excursions could cost extra, depending on the resort. Alcoholic beverages might cost extra, too. Some resorts might offer free transport to and from the airport, and some might provide it for an additional fee. Tips and gratuities are sometimes included in the all-inclusive package. But again, every resort is different. Guests and event professionals will need to make sure they know exactly they’re getting when they choose to book a package at a particular resort.

What kinds of guests do they tend to attract?

In the past, all-inclusive resorts were known for attracting families with small children, vacationers on a budget, and people looking for fun, on-site nightlife activities. However, in recent years, there has been a shift in the type of clientele choosing to stay at all-inclusive resorts, according to an article from Hospitality Net. “... multigenerational families, adventure seekers, health-and-wellness aficionados, luxury vacationers, and Millennials – who are making all-inclusives one of their top choices for destination weddings and honeymoons.”

Solo travelers, work-incentive trips, couples, families, and other large groups are still staying at all-inclusive resorts. But with these new guest personas added into the mix, resorts have the opportunity and the motivation to update their offerings. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • Increase the quality of restaurants and the food served to attract “foodies” interested in gourmet dining experiences.
  • Offer a tier of room suites that come with added amenities for the luxury-minded travelers, like access to exclusive lounges, spa treatments, and butler service.
  • Provide guided meditations, yoga classes, and nutrition seminars for the wellness travelers.
  • Offer activities multigenerational families can enjoy together, like watersports or a private boat tour.
  • Set up your own tours and excursions into the resort’s surrounding area for the adventure seekers.

Why do guests choose all-inclusive resorts?

Guests choose to stay at all-inclusive resorts because these kinds of accommodations make it easy to stay on-budget. There are usually no surprise fees or extra expenses. It’s also a less stressful option for traveling with more than two people because at the resort, there is usually something to please everyone in the group. All-inclusive resorts are good options, too, for guests who want to spend their vacation in one location. Booking at an all-inclusive resort makes for an easy experience with minimal planning and organizing on the part of the guests.

As these kinds of resorts only offer a glimpse of the local culture, guests might miss out on local experiences unless they venture off the resort grounds. Some resorts do offer off-site excursions and experiences for those guests interested in exploring the local area.

What do guests want to know about all-inclusive resorts?

This might go without saying, but guests want to know what exactly is included when they choose a package from an all-inclusive resort. The question of all questions is, “Is it included, or does it cost extra?” Here are some other questions guests consider when booking with an all-inclusive resort:

  • Is top-shelf liquor included, or does that cost extra?
  • Are motorized watersports included in the cost?
  • Is Wi-Fi included and is it all throughout the property?
  • Are guests responsible for tipping or are employees not allowed to accept gratuity?
  • What kinds of food and drink are available?
  • Is there a “resort fee” on top of the price for the all-inclusive package, and what does that cost go towards?
  • What are the available onsite activities?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Is the resort kid-friendly or adults only?

Examples of all-inclusive resorts

1. explora Patagonia - Patagonia, Chile

This resort offers the perfect base from which to explore the famous Torres del Paine National Park. Each room in the resort boasts views of the mountains or the nearby waterfall. It offers 40 excursions for guests to choose from to explore the mountains and hiking routes. Guests can choose to either explore on foot or on horseback. The resort also has its own catamaran to take guests to the nearby Grey Glacier and French Valley. explora Patagonia draws on its cultural roots and offers an authentic experience, where guests can have a “quincho” (barbecue) and explore the mountains on specially-bred horses for the Patagonia weather and climate.

2. Lily Beach Resort & Spa - Huvahendhoo Island, Maldives

Located on its own private island, this resort welcomes families and couples alike. Three excursions are included in the all-inclusive package, and guests can choose from activities like visiting a local island to experience Maldivian culture, taking a cruise in a semi-submarine, or having a private picnic on a nearby uninhabited island. The resort’s Platinum Plan comes with fine dining experiences, premium wines and champagne, and plenty of excursions and activities.

3. Excellence Riviera Cancun - Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Activities abound at this resort, with a wide variety of things to choose from like paddle boarding, kayaking, dance lessons, archery, sailing, and air-rifle shooting. Deep-sea fishing, diving instructions, and private yacht excursions are available at an additional cost. Excellence Riviera Cancun offers a resort within a resort experience with its Excellence Club. Guests who choose this option will have access to a private lounge, pool, and beach area, as well as private check-in and upgraded in-suite amenities. The resort is also equipped with 20,000 square feet of indoor event space and outdoor venue options, as well as a dedicated events team.

Marriott enters the world of all-inclusive resorts

Last year, Marriott International stepped into the all-inclusive hotel space with five properties in the Caribbean and Latin America. Its all-inclusive platform will focus on its upper-upscale and luxury tiers.

“Traditionally, the all-inclusive space has been seen as focused more on mass-market, midscale service, but over time, we’ve seen that sector improve in terms of quality,” said Laurent de Kousemaeker, Marriott’s chief development officer for the Caribbean and Latin America, in an interview with Hotel News Now.

Marriott International will build new properties and convert existing resorts over the next few years to match the needs of many types of travelers in a variety of destinations. For example, all-inclusive resorts under the Marriott Hotels brand will cater primarily to families; the W Hotels brand will be geared toward adults; and the Westin Hotels & Resorts will offer wellness-minded packages for those looking to relax in exotic locations. There will also be experiences for solo travelers, honeymooners, and couples seeking a destination wedding.

How all-inclusive resorts can generate additional revenue

In the past, many believe that all-inclusive resorts were at a disadvantage because of the inability to upsell and generate additional revenue. But the expectations of travelers today have increased and changed. Guests are more willing to splurge on exclusive excursions, activities, and luxury services beyond their all-inclusive package. They want to venture offsite and explore their surroundings, and they’re willing to pay extra for it.

“Today's all-inclusive guests are more than willing to make spontaneous travel purchase decisions for customized regional experiences and top-tier ancillaries,” wrote Dan Skodol, vice president of data science and analytics for Cendyn, in a Hospitality Net article.

This “resort-within-a-resort” concept — where guests who book an all-inclusive package are willing to pay more for deluxe accommodations and exclusive access to special luxury amenities — is a way to upgrade an all-inclusive experience and gain more revenue.

With all-inclusive resorts, guests typically pay for their vacation months in advance. This means that when they arrive at the property, they’re more likely to spend extra money on something like a nice bottle of wine, a fancy dinner, or an unforgettable tour or excursion to enhance their experience.

Baoase Luxury Resort in Curaçao, for example, offers tours of the island, hiking trips, diving and snorkeling tours, dolphin encounters, historic city tours, ATV adventures, and private boat tours — all at an additional cost. As another example, Ladera Resort in St. Lucia offers complimentary garden tours, a foot massage, and a sunrise meditation. For an additional fee, guests can try their hand at bartending in a mixology class, take an excursion to a local fishing village for a street festival, go horseback riding on the beach, or have a cooking class with the resort’s chef. Other add-on excursions include a tour of the local market, ziplining in the rainforest, tours of the island, and a boat trip to the neighboring island of Martinique.

Another way to gain incremental revenue is to offer transfers to and from the airport and wedding packages. For example, Sandals offers a free wedding with a three-night stay. Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas offers three tiers of wedding packages and a custom wedding option. The basic Paradise Wedding package comes with a room upgrade, a ceremony, a wedding coordinator, an officiant, flowers, a photographer, and 20 chairs for guests.

Now you know all you need to know about all-inclusive resorts!

Up next, learn all about smart hotels and how they're revolutionizing the hospitality industry.

Megan Boley

Megan Boley

Megan is a published web writer and editor with a passion for crafting stories. She specializes in planning and creating content across all platforms for brands and organizations, with a focus on demand generation.

In her free time, she's a voracious reader and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

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