All-Inclusive Resorts – Not All Are Created Equal

During the winter months, many Minnesotans are looking to get away for a week and enjoy warm weather, a beach, and a few cocktails. For most, an all-inclusive vacation is a popular way to travel.

All-inclusive means your meals, drinks, and some activities (depending on the resort) are included in the resort’s price to stay. The all-inclusive resorts do vary a bit in terms of what is offered. It’s important to understand what is included and what is not. The best way to do so is to ask!

Hotels are rated on a scale from one to five (five being the best), known as Star Ratings. What does this mean? Well, many people think it just means basic to fancy. However, when you stay at an all-inclusive resort, this means more than how plush the resort its. Here are three common differences all-inclusive resorts offer. Use these tips to help select a resort that checks all of the boxes on your list.


There are a few things to consider; yes, your meals are included. That being said, many all-inclusive properties offer a buffet or ala carte dining. Some resorts have restrictions on how many times you can eat ala carte during your stay. Each resort handles dining reservations differently. At some, reservations are taken daily. At others, reservations may be required two to three days in advance. Consider these questions about your dining experience:

  • Are you a foodie?
  • Do you enjoy fine dining and new kinds of foods or are you more traditional?    

Travel Tip: When you think of your meals and dining experience, what are your expectations?


The brands are very different in Mexico and the Caribbean from the US alcohol brands. If it’s only Bacardi you drink, you may find your resort only offers their local rum.  

Travel Tip: When talking with your travel agent, let them know what is important to you concerning your beverages.


Room service is not a standard service at all resorts. Some resorts
offer room service at limited times such as breakfast only, 24-hours or is available to certain room categories.  

Another service that comes to mind is pool or beach service. Some resorts offer both, one, or neither. For some, not having this service isn’t a big deal as they know there is always a bar nearby!  

The last service that comes to mind is small but makes a big difference is an in-room mini bar. Not all hotels offer this service. Again, like many services, each resort will restock differently (i.e. daily, only certain beverages, etc.).  

Travel Tip: Think about your must-have services!

Some upgraded and unlimited amenities will cost more money for your stay and then the next resort will surprise you! During a trip to Ixtapa, I knew the resort we were staying at was family friendly and affordable. I figured we would receive average beverages and services but much to my surprise, they were definitely above average.  

Not all all-inclusive resorts are created equal. Think about the little things – they can actually make a big difference.

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