All-Inclusive Resorts: All-Inclusive Fun

by Paris Permenter & John Bigley

Looking to leave your wallet at home on your next vacation? Consider an all-inclusive.

Perhaps the most common phrase in the Jamaica is "no problem." Requests, from more champagne to extra towels, are met with this promise delivered in the lilting accent of the island residents.

And perhaps no place is that phrase heard more often than in the all-inclusive resorts which started on this island almost two decades ago. Today all-inclusive resorts have sprung up across the Caribbean and offer their guests the opportunity to vacation without keeping an eye on the pocketbook because, while they're on the property, everything is theirs for the asking.

"Here all our guests are equally rich because you can't spend money while you're here," says John Issa, the man who began Couples, the first totally all-inclusive resort for couples. Today Issa heads SuperClubs, a chain of all-inclusives with properties in Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Couples is now one of numerous all-inclusives in the Caribbean where lovers can enjoy a holiday without a billfold or purse. The all-inclusives that cling to the Caribbean's white beaches are as varied as the vacationers that frequent them. Two large chains dominate the couples all-inclusive market: SuperClubs and Sandals. Many other all-inclusive resorts offer one or two locations. They all have one thing in common: all-inclusive fun. Meals, drinks, tips, transfers, watersports, and sometimes even weddings are offered in one tidy all-inclusive package.

Who should check out an all-inclusive? Travelers who are:

  • on a tight budget. Thrifty travelers know how much to budget for the entire vacation before they ever buy a ticket. Upon arrival, they're free to live like a king and never have to count how much money's left or how close they're approaching the credit card limit. All-inclusives, like other hotels, come in a varied price range.

  • traveling with the kids. Couples can still have a romantic trip thanks to all-inclusive resorts with children's programs. The kids will have fun doing age-appropriate activities, making new friends, and learning about a new culture, while parents enjoy a romantic respite.

  • receiving the trip as a gift. All-inclusive resort vacations are increasingly popular as wedding gifts. They permit parents to pay for the trip up front and for honeymooners to enjoy themselves without feeling like they're running up a huge tab for parents or new in-laws.

  • getting married on the honeymoon. Several all-inclusives offer free weddings; all offer various wedding packages. Experienced wedding planners at these resorts who can simplify paperwork and make the wedding day special and hassle-free.

Selecting an all-inclusive resort is a matter of personal choice. The two of you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do we want an all-inclusive that's couples only? Some, such as the Sandals chain and Couples, permit couples only. Others, such as Hedonism II and Grand Lido, are adults-only (singles or couples).

  • Do we want to participate in group activities?

  • Is our main goal relaxation or sports?

  • Do we want to learn new watersports?

  • Will we want professional golf or tennis instruction?

  • Do we want to scuba dive?

  • Will we be happy taking most of our meals at one property or would we want to sample restaurants at other hotels? The Sandals chain permits guests to dine at other Sandals locations. Other properties, such as SuperClubs, cover meals on-property only, although guests have a choice of several elegant restaurants at the resort.