Debunking the Myths: The Truth Behind All-inclusive Resorts

We’ve been researching the truth behind all-inclusive resorts… and it’s pretty eye-opening.

As Sandals travel specialists, we’ve reviewed many luxury-included resorts in the Caribbean, from a flagship resort, Sandals Montego Bay, to the first Sandals resort in the ABC Islands… the awesome and breathtaking Sandals Royal Curacao.

What’s Behind That All-Inclusive Resort?

All-Inclusive Resort
Image Credit: Canva.

Whether you’re looking for the best all-inclusive honeymoon resort packages or an all-inclusive resort for adults, we’re taking the knowledge is power route to get you there.

For instance, if you want to know everything about the hidden costs of all-inclusive resorts, make sure to click that link!

At Wedding Pioneer, we continue to see the tremendous value of an all-inclusive resort for couples and groups, especially for a destination wedding. If you want to know why, we’ve gone into a detailed and informative comparison of All-Inclusive Resorts vs DIY Vacations

The truth is, no destination or resort is ever perfect. But today, we’ve got some insight on all-inclusive resorts that will help you find and book the best all-inclusive vacation for you!

5 Ways to Make Your All-Inclusive Vacation Even Better

We hear these concerns from anyone who’s booked an all-inclusive and been disappointed. It’s happened to us, too, as we wrote about in our Breezes vs Sandals Destination Wedding Review.

1. Know When the Restaurants Are Open

Restaurant at Sandals
Image Credit: Sandals

You’re right to think that “all-inclusive” equals “all the time.” Still, another truth is many restaurants offer a specific type of meal, such as buffet breakfast or a la carte dinner at set times, and some all-inclusive restaurants won’t be open on every day that you’re there. 

This gourmet restaurant tab is a goldmine of knowledge. You can see what types of cuisine are offered at each Sandals resort, including menus and the restaurant’s hours of operation. 

Here’s another important tip: always reserve a la carte dinners when you’re checking into the resort. This might seem like a hassle, but the best all-inclusive resorts are popular for a reason, and booking ahead will ensure you don’t get disappointed because reservations tend to fill up quickly.

Myth Busting the Food at All Inclusive Resorts

funky food truck
Image Credit: Sandals

This subject is a really hot topic for most travelers, and online travel reviews prove that you just can’t please everyone.

We’ve experienced outstanding meals at all-inclusive budget resorts—but we’ll never visit those resorts again because the lack of modernized accommodations and the suspect quality of beverages left too much to be desired.

That’s why a well-known luxury brand is always your best bet—but even then, chances are that you’ll enjoy one restaurant or meal more than another.

We always recommend that you try new foods on an all-inclusive vacation, especially at resorts that highlight the local cuisine, like this funky food truck with delicious snacks that are included in your all-inclusive Curacao package!

2. Know Where the Included Amenities Are… and What’s Not Available 

golf at sandals
Image Credit: Sandals

If you’re looking for the Best Sandals Resort for Golf, you should check out specific resort links for championship golf in the Caribbean.

That way, you’ll know the course details and if any additional charges can be expected, including mandatory caddies and golf carts.

You should also know in advance about any changes to these amenities to avoid disappointments.

For instance, it’s indicated on the Saint Lucia Sandals golf link that the 9-hole La Toc course is unavailable until further notice. Some travelers to Sandals in Saint Lucia have been disappointed to find out that the golf course located directly on the resort isn’t playable. 

Sandals Regency La Toc is a beautiful all-inclusive resort in Saint Lucia, and free green fees will continue to be offered at the even more impressive Cap Estate 18-hole golf course nearby.

Another tip regarding amenities is to know if any tours are offered as part of the resort’s all-inclusive package.

Often, a free snorkeling tour or free shopping trip into a local town will be available, but you may now know about this unless you inquire with resort employees during check-in.

3. Know If Construction is Happening

River Suites at Sandals
Image Credit: Sandals

This is a big one, and we agree that arriving at an all-inclusive resort and finding it under construction can be a vacation dream killer—it’s even more disruptive for couples on their destination wedding and honeymoon.

We did find one way around this “resort construction dilemma” that worked nicely for us! Here’s what you can do.

Visit a website for the all-inclusive brand you’re interested in, and look for a chat box symbol (on Sandals, it’s a text box in a circle on the bottom right-hand corner of the webpage).

While some chatboxes are actually chatbots (in other words, artificial intelligence giving predetermined answers to questions), the Sandals chatbox does offer real representatives who can answer your resort or booking inquiries.

Use the chat feature to ask about future construction plans at the resort you want to book. We determined that a resort in Jamaica would be under construction in the summer, so we changed locations to another Sandals in Jamaica.

In every situation, it is far better to know in advance!

4. Know What “Classic” Means 

beachfront suite at Sandals Halcyon Beach
Image Credit: Sandals

At most all-inclusive resorts, a “classic” room generally means the accommodation has not been recently refurbished. 

The good news is many resorts like Sandals Halcyon Beach are renovating their beachfront suites with exquisite modern details—click the links and start dreaming!

Concerns About Safety and Accessibility 

This subject ties into when some of those “classic all-inclusive” resorts were first designed and built.

Unfortunately, there are still destination resorts around the world that haven’t updated their safety measures. It’s a concern of ours, and we now use this current resort safety and security guide as the benchmark for any vacation we book.

If you’re a traveler with accessibility needs, you may, unfortunately, know that some resorts haven’t upgraded their facilities to accommodate you.

That’s wrong, and travelers with accessibility needs should have total peace of mind that they can fully enjoy an all-inclusive resort vacation!

Sometimes, a resort is located in a hilly area (Sandals Ochi is a perfect example), and the resort is also so spread out, as Sandals Ochi is, that resort officials appreciate it could be challenging for accessible travelers. 

For more information, we’re pleased to link to this resort accessibility guide. It provides really useful information on accessible rooms, restaurants, and beaches and also advises travelers where there could be accessibility issues that are beyond the resort’s control. Check it out!

5. Know Who Gets a Tip 

Butler Service at Sandals
Image Credit: Sandals

This is becoming a hot topic at all-inclusive resorts, and this Sandals FAQ link comes in handy for essential information like tipping on the resort—and off too.

We know travelers who tip all the staff at an all-inclusive resort, hoping to maximize the experience (truth bomb: we’ve done it ourselves). 

As a rule, Butler Service employees deliver over-and-above service, and each butler on your team should receive 20-30 USD per day for their exceptional work—but you should never be asked for a tip!

Decide in advance what you’re tipping your butler team, and present the tip when you’re checking out.

Spa employees at resorts should definitely be tipped, just as you would do at home if you’re getting a massage or pedicure from an employee at a clinic or salon.

Lastly, bring a small amount of dollars to give airport baggage handlers or the person who drives you to the resort. It goes a long way in supplementing their income!

Other Facts to Know About All-Inclusive Resorts

Kurason Island Butler Bungalows Aerial HeartShape
Image Credit: Sandals

As we prepared this article, we read shocking reports on the low incomes and long hours worked by hardworking employees at some all-inclusive resorts in tropical countries with lower standards of living.

If you care about this delicate subject as we do, there’s something you can do to ensure that your hard-earned vacation is benefiting the people who call that tropical destination their home.

Choose a Resort That’s Focused on Community and the Environment

In this day and age, an all-inclusive resort brand should focus on important human resources issues like:

  • Job security and professional training for employees to increase wage-earning opportunities
  • Healthcare for employees and family members
  • Investing in the Community.

Additionally, there should be an emphasis on “farm to table” or “sea to table” buying from produce growers and fishermen to benefit the local people and economy. Look at it this way—that also means you will be enjoying the freshest foods on your vacation!

Last but equally important to Caribbean and Latin American nations is the sustainability and environmental protection of their lands and seas.

That sounds great, but you might be wondering how to check all that stuff out!

Here’s some more knowledge to get you started:

  • This Corporate Social Responsibility link offers fantastic insights on responsible sourcing and greener purchasing practices
  • You can also see what’s going on at Sandals Corporate University—the first of its kind in the Caribbean—offering formal academic qualifications to deserving employees
  • See how this all-inclusive resort brand earned Oceanic Global’s Blue Standard and became Master Certified by the EarthCheck program.

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