Is An All-Inclusive Worth It?
Written by Janine Rogan

Friday, June 21st, 2019

All-inclusive resort vacations can provide a great mix of sunshine and fun for the whole family. They're also convenient because they're designed to provide everything you need while on vacation without leaving the resort. As a result, they appear to give a great bang for the buck. But are they really a great deal?

What Does All-Inclusive Mean?

An all-inclusive is a resort, usually located somewhere warm, and the price you pay includes everything. That usually means your accommodations, food and activities on the resort, and often even alcohol.[1] All-inclusives are appealing because once you've paid for the stay, you don't have to cover anything else. You just show up and enjoy!

My Experience at an All-Inclusive

Having recently been to an all-inclusive, I thought I'd dig deeper to find out if the cost was truly worth it. With many online vacation booking sites, you can choose to have your airfare included as part of the all-inclusive package. For five days in Cabo, departing from Calgary, we paid $1,500 each. This included flights, hotel, food and non-premium alcohols.

Our flight was direct, totalling 4 hours. Had we booked directly with the airline, it would've cost about $600 or 40% of the $1,500 we paid.

When it came to accommodations, food and wine, we were each paying $900 or $180 per day. With three of us staying in one room, the price looked affordable. When I typically book accommodations, I look for rooms that are around $200-$250 per night for two people and budget about $100 per day for food per person. Combined, that's around $200 for food and hotel a night per person, so the all-inclusive was a slight deal but nothing shocking.

Something About the Food...

However, I should note that I found the food at this specific all-inclusive to be average, and the alcohol was lacklustre. Resorts tend to charge you more if you're ordering a premium spirit or glass of wine. Anything above the level of "house red" is going to be cash coming out of your pocket. So if you're a foodie with specific tastes, I'm not sure I'd recommend an all-inclusive.

Kids and Entertainment

The kids club and the shows in the evening were included in our price. I'm not sure I would've paid to see the shows we watched, but they were somewhat entertaining.

To have scheduled activities for children to attend each day is great for parents, and the parents I spoke to felt it was worthwhile for the peace of mind they had. You'll save because you're not paying for tickets, but keep your expectations low.

Unexpected Downsides

I was disappointed by the amount of waste I saw at my all-inclusive. Because food was always available, people took more than they needed and a lot of it ended up in the trash.

Also, tipping is something that isn't included, and it can add up. I tipped just about everywhere I went and found myself tipping $20-30 per day, which totalled about $125 for a 5-day trip.

Is an All-Inclusive Right for You?

When it comes down to it, an all-inclusive can be a great way to spend the family vacation budget because there's something for everyone. If you're laid-back in nature and prepared to simply enjoy what the resort has to offer, an all-inclusive can be a great, affordable vacation.

[1]Some items, specifically activities and alcohol, may be an extra charge depending on the resort.


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