5 things to check before checking-in to an all-inclusive

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Making the most of your all-inclusive booking

All-inclusive hotels have lots of perks for travelers looking to save money on a vacation. But it can be frustrating when you haven’t clearly understood what is “included” in your all-inclusive rate. Here are the five things you should always inquire about before booking an all-inclusive hotel.


One of the most enticing amenities of an all-inclusive stay is that meals are typically included. You can dine till your heart’s delight without ever having to look at a bill! But it’s essential to understand which meals are free and which are included. Some all-inclusive properties only include buffet food, but if you dine at a sit-down restaurant you will be paying out of pocket. Luxury all-inclusive hotels typically include all meals in the price of your stay, whether you are eating at the beachfront bar or a fine dining restaurant.


A big draw for many all-inclusive fans is that alcohol is unlimited. This is an especially great amenity for girls and guys getaways and other celebratory vacations. Don’t let misinformation throw a wrench in your party plans. Be sure to ask which alcohol is included. Sometimes top shelf liquor and certain bottles of wine are offered at an additional cost.

Resort Fees

Resort fees were established in the 1990s as a way for resorts to cover costs of maintaining the property. Fast-forward to today and you are almost always charged a resort fee at all hotels ranging from budget to high-end. The fee can range, but the average daily rate is US$25. Be sure to check the fine print at your all-inclusive hotel to know whether or not the resort fee is included.


It’s also important to remember that gratuities are typically not included in all-inclusive properties. It’s wise to factor in tips for housekeeping, valet, and restaurant servers into your overall budget.

Viewfinder Tip: In Expedia’s 2016 Hotel Etiquette study, 30 percent of people admit that they don’t tip at all.


All-inclusive hotels are great at publicizing all of the fantastic activities that you can enjoy during your stay. From scuba diving to cooking lessons to adventure excursions, sometimes it seems too good to be true—and sometimes it is. Most all-inclusive hotels include non-motorized water sports as part of the all-inclusive rate. This includes things like paddleboarding, snorkeling, and surfing. But there is typically an extra charge for other activities, so asking in advance is key.

The bottom line: Even though the average nightly rate of an all-inclusive might be lower at the point of booking, the potential costs of meals, alcohol, activities, and other fees should always be factored in. You may end up paying less at a luxury all-inclusive where everything is included!

What’s your favorite all-inclusive hotel? And why?

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Courtney Scott

Courtney Scott is a New York-based travel blogger, TV personality, and leading on-air travel expert.She has appeared more than 200 times in national broadcast, radio, and print outlets including TODAY show, MSNBC, Fox & Friends, CNN, Wall Street Journal, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide. Her travel career began in 2007 when she kicked her cubicle and booked a one-way ticket to Italy.She now inspires others to live their travel dreams through her blog and her weekly YouTube travel series GLOBETROT with Courtney Scott. She is a regular panelist at Women's Travel Fest and is also the co-creator of The Getaway Girls, a travel show uncovering the best girlfriend getaways in the world, co-starring Kiersten Rich, a.k.a. The Blonde Abroad. Subscribe to Courtney's adventures on YouTube and keep up with her travels on Instagram and Snapchat (imcourtscott).

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