The Hidden Costs of ‘All-inclusive’ Resorts—7 Things to Know

When you picture any idyllic beachfront vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico, you probably dream about the most hassle-free experience possible.

But when we’re talking about planning your destination wedding and honeymoon at an international resort, the need to make it stress-free isn’t just a nice thing to imagine. It’s practically a lifesaver!

That’s why an internet search for the best all-inclusive destination wedding packages is so popular, and the best all-inclusive honeymoon resort packages and best all-inclusive, adults-only resorts are preferred by many wedding couples like you.

All-inclusive resorts like Sandals promise a “luxury-included” experience, and we can confirm that the inclusions are pretty darn impressive.

Presenting the Hidden Costs of All-Inclusive Resorts 

All-Inclusive Resort
Image Credit: Canva.

Still, many of our couples get surprised by the so-called “hidden costs” of a luxury all-inclusive resort, even when the fact is, most of those add-on costs are presented in detail on all-inclusive resort sites (Sandals calls them vacation “extras” with complete descriptions of the add-on costs listed on that link).

Wedding Pioneer is all about presenting honest and transparent all-inclusive resort reviews to our readers and followers!

So let’s break down the add-on costs of a Sandals vacation and tell you specifically in the numerical list below what’s not included so there are no surprises during your destination wedding and honeymoon.

1. Transportation—What Is and Isn’t Included

private transfer at Sandals resort
Image Credit: Sandals.

Couples and destination wedding parties love the convenience of complimentary airport transfers in air-conditioned buses between the arrival airport and their Sandals resort.

  • There are, however, minor charges involved in airport transfers

It’s good to carry a small amount of money (five and ten-dollar bills) to tip luggage handlers and the driver who takes you to your Sandals resort. These hard workers are not Sandals employees and small tips go a long way in supplementing their income.

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: Visit Sandals FAQs for important travel information to know. Some airport transfers are also 90 minutes or more, and drivers generally stop at roadside stands so you can purchase food or beverages to tide you over until you reach the resort.

  • Upgraded airport transfers are also available at an additional cost

Airport transfers in Jamaica to Sandal Negril average 75 minutes each way. Sandals South Coast and the Sandals Resorts in Ocho Rios in Jamaica are approximately 90 minutes from the airport.

That’s why some travelers prefer to book private passenger transfers to their Sandals resort in advance.

Your private transfer (round-trip or one-way) is via a luxury BMW, with complimentary snacks, beverages, and WiFi included. The current price is $225 per couple one-way, and you can click on the private transfer link above for more details.

Sandals Resorts in Saint Lucia are located on golden sandy beaches between one hour to two hours from the country’s main international airport, and you can visit all three resorts with complimentary transfers included

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: Perhaps the most exciting vacation extra you can pre-book in Saint Lucia is a ten-minute helicopter transfer between the airport and your Sandals resort—click the link for details!

2. Love Nest Suites—Please Tip Your Butlers

Image Credit: Sandals.

Sandals adults-only resorts are designed to offer the most romantic couples’ vacation, and a suite with Butler Elite service definitely takes your destination wedding and honeymoon up a few super-special notches!

  • Tip your private butler team at the end of your stay

Butler teams provide exemplary, upgraded service to all Butler Elite suites at a Sandals resort. You can consider your assigned team of up to three butlers to be your private pampering squad for the length of your stay.

If you’re wondering what to expect from your private butler team, check out these standard Butler Requests that your butlers would love to handle for you.

It’s also super-easy to pre-book butler preferences through that link.

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: At the end of your Sandals stay, it’s great to tip each butler who provided you with outstanding service—a good recommendation is between 20-25 USD per day for each butler on your team. 

3. Private Cabana on the Beach Is a Popular Vacation Extra

Beach cabana
Image Credit: Sandals.

If you’re a more independent couple, you might prefer a Sandals Club Level suite or a regular Luxury room at your chosen resort. Check out our Club Level vs. Luxury Room Review to help you decide!

  • Purchase a private cabana for one-day pampering

Our beach-loving couples that do book Club Level suites or Luxury rooms at Sandals often decide to purchase a private beach cabana for the day (or more!).

The current approximate cost is $150 per day, and your private beach cabana should include butler service for meals and beverages throughout your booking period, generally lasting from breakfast time until 4-5 pm. 

Private cabanas can be booked at the resort, and the day begins with your cabana butler escorting you to the beach and bringing you the breakfast you select in advance.

You should also be provided with a ‘butler cell’ to contact your butler and request meals or drinks during the day.

4. Feeling Active? Check Out These Sandals Vacation Activity Extras

scuba diving
Image Credit: Sandals.

We love to drop these all-inclusive lists of watersports, land sports, and onsite fitness centers to back up the claim that Sandals offers more quality inclusions than any other resort brand on the planet.

The most active couples might already know that Sandals offers free scuba diving to certified divers and free green fees (and complimentary round-trip transfers) to championship golf courses located close to or on Sandals resorts in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and The Bahamas.

But there are additional services you can book at Sandals to up your golf game, your fitness routine, or even your underwater adventures together!

  • Scuba certification is offered at reasonable rates

Or maybe you’d just like to try scuba together through an introductory resort course? You can discover scuba diving or get PADI-certified at Sandals, click the links for more information.

New and experienced divers also like to know about wetsuit rentals—these comfort items are available for approximately 10 USD at the resort, so there is no need to pack additional gear.

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: SNUBA is a fun crossover between snorkeling and scuba, and it’s available as a vacation extra at selected Sandals resorts. Click on Ultimate Guide to SNUBA to learn more!

  • Golfing add-ons for players at Sandals

There are comfort items as well as mandatory add-ons to enjoy your championship golf experience at Sandals.

All golf games at Sandals-affiliated resorts require a caddy to assist you at an add-on cost. This enables your day to go more smoothly and be the best experience possible!

You might also enjoy taking a lesson from a PGA pro onsite, and that’s available to you as a vacation extra. Other add-ons available to you are golf carts, clubs, and shoe rentals.

Click Jamaica, Saint Lucia, or Great Exuma in The Bahamas to see prices and further details on golfing through your Sandals resort.

  • Get even fitter with vacation extras at Sandals

Sandals exclusive Red Lane Fitness centers provide a club-quality workout at every resort.

While equipment use and daily scheduled classes are included with your Sandals’ fitness center experience, you might like to book a private training session with a qualified fitness trainer during your stay. Click the link and select ‘Book a Private Session’ for more information!

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: Check out the 11 Best Sandals Resorts for Scuba and Sandals Emerald Bay for Your Golf Honeymoon!

5. Upgrade to a Private Candlelight Dinner at Sandals

Candlelight Dinner at Sandals
Image Credit: Sandals.

This popular vacation extra offered by Sandals is a private candlelight dinner for two on the beach, in a romantic garden area, or even delivered and set up in your suite.

The current cost is approximately 199 USD, and you can expect your dining table to be decorated with tropical flowers and candles. You’ll enjoy unlimited pours of select wines and a bottle of Ruffino Prosecco, with white glove service throughout your dinner. 

What we love the most about your private candlelight dinner is that you can select your menu from every available restaurant on the resort… so if you want your starters, mains, and desserts from different restaurants, your wishes are granted!

It’s a great idea to pre-book your candlelight dinner in advance because nightly seating can be limited at each resort. Click the link to learn more.

6. Get Adventurous Off the Resort With Island Tours of Your Choice

Pig Island
Image Credit: Sandals.

Our wedding couples arranging a destination wedding party at their Sandals resort always ask about fun tours or excursions to do as a group. 

Whether it’s an all-day powerboat adventure for your destination wedding group or the world-famous swimming with adorable pigs off an island in The Bahamas, you have many adventure tours to choose from at your Sandals resort—click the links to see!

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: Check out our Sandals Ochi review for the most affordable destination wedding resort in the Caribbean that’s also jam-packed with exclusive, luxury-included amenities like The Ochi Beach Club. 

7. Customize Your Dream Destination Wedding With Add-ons and Extras

Picturesque Wedding Ceremony Location at Sandals resort
Image Credit: Sandals.

Sandals is renowned for its Free Tropical Wedding and a free Honeymoon Package (offered with stays of three nights or more, click the links for up-to-date details). 

But the choice is all yours when it comes to upgrading your destination wedding or honeymoon at Sandals with add-ons, and these vacation extras are also available to any lucky adult couple enjoying their stay at Sandals!

  • Red Lane Spa treatments are available to any Sandals guest

Sandals has highly-trained specialists at their Red Lane spas, and they offer exclusive treatments in skin care, massage, and body care that can be enjoyed separately or as a couple (picture an aromatherapy massage for two on the beach!).

Click on Spa Treatments and select your Sandals resort to view current treatments and prices.

Wedding Pioneer Travel Tip: Tipping Red Lane Spa specialists for any services or treatments you purchase is customary.

  • Red Lane Spa wedding packages for couples and wedding parties

Hair and makeup services are available through Red Lane Spa with special pricing packages for wedding couples, attendants, or guests.  

Click on Wedding Services, scroll down the page, and select your Sandals resort to view packages.

  • Learn about catering and venue costs

Sandals has designed catering packages for destination weddings and special events, and the menu options are truly amazing.

While event catering is an add-on cost, you should be able to customize the best menus for you and know that your dietary preferences will always be honored.

Click on Catering to learn more!

Sandals also provides full descriptions of venues on each resort for your wedding or special event.

Beachfront weddings, an oceanfront or garden gazebo, or a European garden setting are generally included with any Sandals wedding package.

More exclusive and private Over-the-Water Chapels, Over-the-Water Gazebos, a Sky Terrace, or an Intimate Resort Chapel are available for your event at an additional cost. Click on Venues to learn more. 

  • Entertainment can be added on to your event too

How cool would it be to have stilt walkers, acrobats, or fire dancers at your destination wedding?

Of course, you’ll also want music during your wedding ceremony and reception, and Sandals offers various musicians and musical genres to suit your special day.

Click on Entertainment to learn more about these memorable add-ons.

  • Capture your big day with photography and videography services added-on

Wedding Pioneer has photographers listed across North America, and some of our couples choose to bring their wedding photographer along to their destination wedding!

While we recommend that for couples who are more comfortable establishing a relationship with their photographer or videographer first, you can also hire a Sandals-endorsed photography or videography expert to capture your big day.

Click on Photo and Video Services to learn more.

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