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All Inclusive Resorts: Why, What, Where, and Which to Choose?

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What's Included?
Lazy River, at Coconut Bay Resort on St. Lucia. Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.

Lazy River, at Coconut Bay Resort on St. Lucia.

Photo © Teresa Plowright.
All inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico aim provide guests with a complete vacation, and hopefully this starts at the airport when the guests arrive.
  • Arrival and transfer and from the resort: ideally, on arrival, all you need to do is find the booth or representative for your resort and be whisked away. (You may spend some time waiting on a shuttle bus, though.)
  • Multiple restaurants: typically, dining options include one or more buffet restaurants that feed kids with no waiting and that often have a kids' section; one or more a la carte restaurants, usually with a specialty such as Japanese cuisine, Mediterranean, etc; and at least one poolside snackbar. Note that at many resorts guests have limited access to the a la carte restaurants and must make reservations in advance.
  • Drinks are provided, and range from self-serve soda dispensers to fancy cocktails. Liquor varies from house brands to premium.
  • Watersports: typically, guests at an all inclusive resort have free use of non-motorized watersports, such as kayaks, windsurfing, and sunfish sailing. Sometimes lessons are included. Quite often, all inclusive resorts include snorkeling boat trips at no charge; a few -- such as Beaches resorts -- even include scuba for ages 12 and up.
  • Kids programs: many all inclusive resorts have a basic kids' club for ages four to 12. Others go all out, with separate programs for 4 or 5 distinct age groups. Some all inclusive resorts also offer infant care and teen programs. (Read more about kids clubs.)
  • Family activities: bingo, scavenger hunts, beach parties...
  • Night-time entertainment: shows ranges from cute-but-amateurish to professional caliber. Many places have theme nights.

Some resorts have nice little touches, such as sand toys available for borrowing.

- continue to All Inclusive Resorts: What You'll Pay Extra For

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