What Does All-Inclusive Mean? Answering All Your Questions

An all-inclusive vacation is a vacation that includes all the essentials in the booking price. Besides accommodation, you can expect food, drinks, activities, and entertainment to be included, without having to pay extra for it. A true all-inclusive vacation should never come with surprise costs and makes it possible to have a worry-free vacation, without having to run a tab.

All-inclusive resort vacations take things to another level. Once you book your trip, no longer are you settling for the basics, but indulging in a vacation without holding back. Order what you want, as much as you want - it’s already paid for.

The purpose of this blog article is to explore what an all-inclusive vacation is, and what it’s not. If you're ready, let’s get a little more familiar with the all-inclusive concept, so the booking process is just as worry-free as your upcoming getaway to paradise!

Picture: Beaches Turks & Caicos the last of the true exotics.

Are all all-inclusive resorts the same?

The simple answer is no. If all-inclusive resorts under the same brand umbrella are to be considered, then a lot of the inclusions are likely to be similar, but overall, not all all-inclusive resorts are the same. Always make sure to double-check what’s included before you make a booking.

Tip: If you’re considering visiting the Caribbean, check out the inclusions of Beaches Resorts and Sandals Resorts inclusions and compare these to other all-inclusive brands. You’ll quickly find that no other resort in the world offers as much quality inclusions as these two brands!

Once you do your research in advance, you’re bound to get a better understanding of the options available, and how they vary. Watch the quality of these inclusions and keep an eye out for fine print related to what you’re likely to pay extra for. Most all-inclusive resorts include things like food and drinks, though some limit what you’re able to have for free.

Ten questions that should give you a good idea of what is included are:

  • Are airport transfers included?
  • Are (alcoholic) beverages included? Do they serve premium brand liquors?
  • Can you eat and drink what you want 24 hours a day?
  • How many restaurants does the resort have on offer? What kind of food do they serve?
  • Is the in-suite minibar stocked and included?
  • What are the water sports on offer and are they included?
  • Does the resort include activities for kids?
  • Does the resort offer free admission to its waterpark?
  • Is the WiFi included, both in-room and the common areas?
  • Are gratuity, tips and taxes included in your booking price?

All in all, “all-inclusive” can and most times does have a different meaning depending on where you choose to vacation. Take comfort in knowing that some of the best all-inclusive resorts can be found in the Caribbean.

Are all-inclusive resorts worth the money?

If you find a good one with all the inclusions you love, all-inclusive is definitely worth the money! Pay attention to the fine print to make sure that the things you think are included don’t come with an added cost. As you read on and get familiar with some of the inclusions you can expect from an all-inclusive resort, you’ll be better prepared to choose the resort that’s right for you.

What you can expect to be included at an all-inclusive resort?

Let’s have a closer look at the inclusions at Beaches Resorts to get a better understanding of what you can expect to be included on an all-inclusive vacation.

Roundtrip airport transfers

Nothing beats getting to a destination and knowing your transportation and associated costs have been arranged and factored in, from the airport to your resort, and back to the airport once your all-inclusive vacation is done. Transfers won’t be included at every all-inclusive resort, but at Beaches Resorts they are.

Expert tip: You can check out even more tips and tricks for staying at a Beaches Resort well ahead of your stay!

Gourmet dining & unlimited (alcoholic) drinks

The quality and variation of the food on offer is among the first things guests will think about when choosing a resort, let alone an all-inclusive resort. This can seem something of a gamble as in most cases, you haven’t had a chance to try the food before shelling out cash, but resorts like Beaches Resorts offer gourmet dining with a host of international cuisines and restaurants to choose from.

With 21 top-notch restaurants at Beaches Turks & Caicos alone, there’s something for everyone (even for the most difficult eater!). Expect breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime snacks to be included, which means you really will be able to have an all-you-can-eat type vacation. Want to enjoy both the steak and the lobster? No problem. Want to have three starters and two desserts? No problem. It’s all included, all unlimited.

The chefs at Beaches Resorts use ingredients that are fresh and locally sourced to make the most spectacular dishes. The rave reviews for Beaches Resorts speak for themselves.

Drinks anyone? This is one area where there will be clear differences in the offerings of various places. Some all-inclusive resorts include alcoholic drinks, others don’t. Beaches properties have multiple bars, including swim-up bars, and both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are included and unlimited!

You won’t have to worry about rigid bar times at Beaches either – most bars open from the morning, until night. This means kids can take advantage of the swim-up soda bars in the day, and adults can indulge in cocktails, mixers, or even some beer or whiskey at full-service bars located at various points of the resort. Whichever bar you decide to try at Beaches, it’s worth noting that this resort serves premium brand liquors, which might save you from a headache the day after. Even the wines at the restaurants are included and the coffee served is one of the world’s most sought after: Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee.

If that doesn’t excite you yet, then the fact that every room at Beaches Resorts comes with a stocked mini fridge that you can use for free, will. Higher-level rooms even come with full wet bars with your choice of premium brand liquors and champaign.

Water sports

What’s a beach resort without extensive water sports options, especially when you’re traveling with kids? Beaches Resorts are all located on a stunning Caribbean beach. There’s an extensive amount of water sports guests can engage in, including water skiing, tubing, aquatrikes, snorkelling, hobie cats, glass bottom boat trips, windsurfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and bodyboarding. Unrestricted access to those means loads of fun in the ocean for both parents and kids.

Beaches’ professional water sports team will be there every step of the way providing instruction and ensuring everyone is comfortable before heading out into the water!

Insider tip: Guests who are PADI® certified can take advantage of the free scuba diving inclusion (up to two tanks per day) at Beaches Resorts - professional equipment included! If you’re not certified, it’s easy to get certified at the resort at additional cost.

Land sports are… included!

Beach volleyball

Get into some beach volleyball action at Beaches with your family as a way for everyone to unwind and have some fun in the sun. There’s almost always a beach volleyball match going on, and if not, you can start your own!

Basketball, day and night tennis, pool tables…

… lawn chess, croquet, soccer, day & night tennis, board games, shuffleboard, billiards, table tennis. The options are endless for land sport activities at Beaches, and your kids will likely want to get into every single one!

Championship golf

Golf is not a common inclusion of family oriented all-inclusive resorts, but at Beaches Ocho Rios it is. Guests won’t need to worry about green fees which are included for the 18-hole course. The Golf and Country Club is located on a short drive from the resort and features a practice range, putting and chipping greens, a full service golf shop, complementary club storage facilities, changing facilities, a restaurant and a snack shack.

Insider tip: Ask about the Junior Golf Club at Beaches Ocho Rios where you can find private instruction for juniors at additional cost, Junior Clinics every Wednesday, and free club rentals for juniors.

Fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment

You won’t have to worry about your fitness regiment biting the dust at Beaches all-inclusive resorts just because you’re having too much fun. In fact, quite the opposite (especially if you’re traveling with children). While the kiddies are engaged in kids camps and other fun activities on property, you’ll have time to escape for a full gym session.

Round the clock entertainment

From early in the day until night, at most all-inclusive resorts there’ll be something to do for everyone, whether that includes jamming at Caribbean style beach parties, settling in for live bands or stage shows, letting loose on resort themed nights, and so much more! See what else is on offer with all-inclusive entertainment at Beaches Resorts ahead of your trip.

On-property water park

Picture: Pirates Island Waterpark at Beaches Ocho Rios is a fantasy world.

When considering an all-inclusive family vacation, know that your kids will be overjoyed to know they’ll be spending their vacation at a resort with a water park.

Although a water park might not always be included, at Beaches Resorts it is! Prepare to watch your kids (or join them) get wet and wild in a fun water zone that includes the best-ever water slides, water cannons, a lazy river, kid-friendly pool and a swim-up bar where they can grab their own sodas without having to get out of the water. The waterparks at Beaches also have its own waterfall pool, splash deck, a special pool for tots, a zero-entry pool, pop-up jets, cranks and spray, and a whirlpool.

Certified nannies, Kids Camps and... Sesame Street?

Bringing the kids? Check if the all-inclusive resort offers free activities for all age groups, and whether there are nannies available in case you want to spend a night with just the two of you. Activities at family friendly all-inclusive resorts can include scavenger hunts, beachside soccer, reggae jam sessions, treasure hunts, arts & craft, magic shows, costume time, sandcastle building, karaoke, talent extravaganzas, water sports programs and more, depending on the age of your kids.

Tip: Check out this overview of the Kids Club activities at Beaches all-inclusive resorts to see what you can expect!

Beaches Resorts even offers a special needs program and Sesame Street activities parades. Always wanted to bake cookies with Cookie Monster or have Elmo read your kids a bedtime story? It’s all possible at Beaches!

Tips, gratuities & hotel taxes included!

Want to show appreciation to those exceptional staff members, or exquisite meals? If you’re staying at a Beaches Resort, consider it done! Tips, gratuities and hotel taxes will all be included in your stay. This includes tips for staff at the bars, restaurants, front desk, and more. The one exception is the private butlers, but even in this case you aren’t obligated to tip.

Free Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi access is free at Beaches Resorts, and is available in the rooms and throughout the resort including in common areas. Even though everyone will likely be occupied with the many activities available at your all-inclusive vacation, it’s reassuring to know during their down times kids can settle in for some screen time, when needed.

If you didn’t know what you can expect to be included at your inclusive resort, now you know!

Are all-inclusive resorts safe?

All-inclusive resorts are in some ways safer than regular hotels, as the chances that you’ll even need to leave your resort are slim, especially if you stay at a resort like Beaches Resorts where you’ll find everything you need in one place.

Any all-inclusive resort worth considering would be gated off from public access for security reasons. The trained security team at Beaches for instance works around the clock to ensure that everything is running smoothly, and that guests are kept safe. Beaches uses best-in-class security methods, which emphasises that the safety of you and your family is a sure priority.

If you still need a little more reassurance, it’s worth noting that Beaches Resorts works closely with government and law enforcement resources (including the US Embassy) to ensure that safety standards are maintained. Employee wise, extensive background checks are conducted prior to anyone being employed at the resort.

Know the difference…

Well… that’s the all-inclusive concept in a nutshell. The only thing left to do is to quickly check out some of the significant differences between all-inclusive vacations, versus other vacation types. Here are some of the ones you might have heard of or tried, paired against the all-inclusive vacation for the purposes of comparison:

All-inclusive vs A la carte

Vacation packages offered by all-inclusive resorts usually include accommodation, meals, drinks, and other services. A la carte resorts, rather than having a set package, allow you to choose which amenities or services you’d like included.

All-inclusive vs Self-catering

Self-catering hotels, resorts, or villas usually don’t offer much in the way of inclusions. These properties typically provide the amenities you’ll need to make yourself right at home (and cook your own meals) like kitchenettes or full kitchens. This can take away the relaxed nature of a vacation where you really want to kick back and do nothing but enjoy being in paradise.

All-inclusive vs Half-board

You won’t find comprehensive inclusions at half-board accommodations, as the name would suggest. Some options and services are usually included, while others are not. You’ll need to ensure you’re clear about this before booking your trip. Some half-board hotels will offer breakfast and lunch, but not dinner, or snacks and drinks. This pales in comparison when paired with all-inclusive resorts where unlimited any-time drinks, meals, and snacks are part of the vacation package.

All-inclusive vs Full-board

Full-board is a lesser used term nowadays, but it basically means that most of your meals throughout the duration of your vacation will be provided. It is not uncommon in full board hotels to find that you’re charged extra for things like snacks and alcoholic drinks. This is one of the major aspects that sets it apart from the sort of vacation packages available at all-inclusive resorts.

What about the fine print?

It’s important that you pay attention to the small details when choosing an all-inclusive resort for your (family) vacation. Check that the things that you’re excited about are really included, and if they are included… are there any conditions attached to it? Ask questions if you’re not sure, especially about which restaurants are included and which ones are not, what types of drinks are included and what you’ll need to pay extra for, and which activities are part of your all-inclusive package. This is very important, as no one wants to enjoy what they assumed was an all-inclusive vacation, only to get to the point of check out and be presented with a hefty bill. At Beaches Resorts, rest assured you won’t have to worry about any surprises, as all-inclusive means just that!

Is the all-inclusive vacation right for you?

That depends on whether you’re interested in a vacation where all you’ll need to think about is enjoying paradise. If a worry-free vacation is what you’re seeking, then you’re likely to appreciate an all-inclusive resort vacation. All-inclusive vacations really do allow you to switch off and be immersed in the experience, and that certainly makes a difference where relaxation comes into the picture.

Eat at the finest restaurants, drink as many cocktails as you want, dance to your heart’s content at live shows, enjoy the beach and ocean, and get your kids into every activity possible knowing that it’s all included!

Have it all at your Beaches all-inclusive vacation!

Let’s face it. Going on an all-inclusive vacation isn’t something you do every day. In fact, for many people it’s a once in a lifetime privilege that is worth doing just right. For this reason, it makes sense to book an all-inclusive vacation that includes all you need and more. The goal is to go on vacation with your family, and return home fully rested, looking back at a vacation of a lifetime!

Check out Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos. Both Caribbean destinations are within a two hour flight from U.S. shores!

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!