When it comes to all-inclusive resorts, people seem to either love them, or hate them. If you’re in the latter camp, you probably have some pretty solid ideas about what you don’t like. Some travelers point to all-inclusive resorts’ reputations for mediocre food, watered down drinks and lame entertainment options, among other crimes. While this may be true at some spots, there’s also plenty of all-inclusives out there doing pretty magical things. Here are 5 all-inclusive myths, debunked.
Myth #1: You’ll never leave the resort
Much like with cruise ships, it’s common to see all-inclusives organize various excursions to explore the local city. This could include cruises, hikes, shopping, walking tours, and so much more. It’s a great way to learn the local history and culture of a destination and keep you from spending all week at their pool (unless you want to!). “Whether you want to make your own arrangements, or want the trusted recommendations of employees at the resort, you will have the opportunity to get outside of the resort bubble and have the opportunity to engage with locals,” says Calvin Iverson, travel expert at TravelPirates. White Pearl Resort on the south coast of Mozambique, for example, offers complimentary activities like swimming with dolphins while Melia Nassau Beach in the Bahamas offers unlimited scuba diving.
Myth #2: You’ll be surrounded by families the whole time
Ultimately, there are family-friendly all-inclusives, featuring everything from water parks to kids clubs—like Grand at Moon Palace in Cancun, for example. But there’s also plenty that fall under the adults-only category, such as super-romantic Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia (Learn more about this Roaming Gnome Top Pick!) or the gorgeous Caves resort in Negril, Jamaica. “If you’re looking to de-stress entirely—both by having the resort provide food and drink, as well as having no kids splashing around in the pool—this is an option to consider,” says Iverson. Another way to vacation sans kids is to book a private cottage, a room with an in-suite Jacuzzi or rooms that let you swim out to the pool.
Myth #3: The entertainment is corny
There’s so much more out there than house bands doing cheesy ’80s pop and dueling pianos, though that exists if you still want it! “In an effort to appeal to a variety of tastes, all-inclusives are now going beyond routine activities like the limbo line,” says Iverson. “I’ve seen a resort in Antigua that has partnerships with book publishers—so if you’re a bookworm, you get an exclusive on newest reads hot off the press,” he says. If you’re looking for good nightlife, read the reviews: Properties like Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is known for its pumping ORO Nightclub, while Royalton Riviera Cancun serves up 13 different bars ranging from a sophisticated martini bar to a laid back beach bar.
Myth #4: The food is mediocre
People really have a lot of negative opinions about menus at all inclusives and that’s not entirely deserved. You can find spots with lobster, steak, and top shelf liquor if you do your homework. For example: “Azul Beach Resorts in Mexico features a “gourmet-inclusive,” where the hotel grows its own fresh vegetables and spices and incorporates those into their menu items. They also offer premium drinks with top shelf liquor,” says Iverson. Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands is another good choice, where an El Bulli-trained chef sources local ingredients to create signature Caribbean dishes. There are some great finds out there, and your inner (and outer!) foodie will not go hungry.
Myth #5: They’re basically all the same
They aren’t. In fact, aside from unlimited food and drink and activities, they vary a lot! “With a little digging, you can find resorts that have activities such as pistol shooting, teaching you how to spin classics like a DJ, or even horseback riding. You can find options to fit your interests, and not be limited to what the typical all-inclusive offers,” says Iverson. Resorts also vary greatly on whom they cater to; for example, Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica offers steamy getaways for adventurous couples while Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is a huge hit with families with young kids in tow.
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