The Elusive All-Inclusive: How to choose the Perfect All-Inclusive Resort

5 simple steps to the best travel of your life
August 25, 2017
GUEST POST: Grand Velas Riviera Maya…
September 4, 2017

The Elusive All-Inclusive: How to choose the Perfect All-Inclusive Resort

All-inclusive resorts provide everything you may need for your vacation. With the growing list of options to consider,  one of the most common questions I get asked is:

Which All-inclusive is right for me?”

With a quick web search you are inundated with choices. You can waste hours of time. Ask your friends and you get different results.  Someone else’s ideal resort is not necessarily yours.


This post can help guide you as you think about an all-inclusive vacation that will work best for you.

What’s typically included in an all-inclusive resort rate?

  • Room, Meals, Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
  • Entertainment,  Non-motorized water sports

Other inclusions/exclusions may include:

  • Golf /Spa
  • Excursions/Catamaran/snorkel cruises
  • Top shelf alcohol/Wi-Fi
  • Kids clubs and babysitting
  • Restaurants and lounges/Phone calls home

Some resorts have “levels” within the same property, sometimes referred to as VIP, Royal Service Preferred Club, Diamond Club, the Reserve, etc. Upgraded services and amenities are afforded to the higher levels, such as: 

  • Private check in
  • Exclusive access to special sections of the resort
  • Access to different restaurants
  • Butler/concierge service


You will find all-inclusive properties worldwide, but most options are located in Mexico and the Caribbean:  The “big 3” being Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The combined labor costs, the beautiful beaches, and warm cultures make these top choices for the most value in the all-inclusive category of resorts.

 How to Choose: When narrowing your choices Consider:

  • Beach vs. Pool scene —Smooth white sand beaches with beautiful blue water is what most people think of when they think “Beach Resort”, but some beautiful locations have non-swimmable beaches or coral bottoms that are great for snorkeling, but might not be what you pictured. Are you Ok with a great pool and not a “pristine” beach?
  • Style:  Romance? Family? Party atmosphere? Adults only or family-friendly party? Girlfriends getaway? Spa, sports, and wellness? Family entertainment for varied ages of children? Does a hand-carved hut on a ten room resort sound like heaven or boring? Does a mega-resort that provides a bus to access all the restaurants and activities the property has to offer make you overwhelmed or excited?
  • Budget: What is realistic for you and your family or friends? Keep in mind that some factors that impact budget include the season, length of stay, and room category.

Other Factors to Consider When Making Your Choice

  • If this is a special celebration trip, or you are traveling in a group
  • Length of travel (how long it will take you to get the resort, and how long is the flight)
  • Preference for leaving the resort grounds
  • Kids Clubs
  • Interest in 5-star meals and culinary experiences
  • Specific room requests: Swim-up and private pool options, ocean front views
  • Your getaway preferences, such as health and wellness, culture and history, shopping and luxury
  • Golf, spa, and specific sports and activities
  • Access to butler service
  • Balconies and patios, high-rise views or sprawling cottages

Popular All-Inclusive Properties

There are a multitude of all-inclusive resorts, and here is a small sampling to illustrate the depth and breadth of some of the popular options:

  • Hard Rock Resorts: Adults only and family friendly sections (think music and foam parties)
  • Palace Resorts: Moon Palace Cancun is a massive property with many activities but an awful beach, Le Blanc:  5-diamond resort, adults-only high rise, but no balconies
  • Paradisus Properties: Family Friendly & Adults only sections. Many Level options.
  • Karisma Resorts: Culinary focused properties. Adults (overwater bungalows too) & Family Friendly options. Great options to consider for babies/toddlers.
  • Breathless: Adults only party, but not as risqué as a Hedonism-type resort
  • Secrets: No wristband, no dining reservation, Upscale Adults only properties
  • The Caves: Small, adults resort with no beach, but hand-carved huts jutting out over the Caribbean Sea. Quiet, romantic, cliff diving, or ladder down to float on a raft in the sea
  • Beaches Resorts: Upscale, family friendly options in Jamaica & Turks and Caicos.
  • Sandals – Adults only, incredible number of room categories, including overwater bungalows.
  • Iberostar: Family Friendly & Adults Only Options. Dining Reservations Required.
  • Dreams Resorts: No wristband, no dining reservation, for couples with children
  • Grand Velas: Exceptional 5-diamond properties

Yes, you want the best beach, activities, food, but if something has to give, what is MOST important to you?

If you’d like expert advice on choosing the right all-inclusive for you, please set up a planning session with me here. You can also join the friendly Travel by Randi Facebook group, where clients and guests can provide their comments, insights, and recommendations into your all-inclusive resort stay.

Comments are closed.

Want the Inside Scoop?

Sign up for for Tips and Tricks to help you Relax and Embrace the Journey!

Wonderful! You have Successfully Subscribed!