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How to Get Your Money's Worth at an All-Inclusive Resort

Alexander_Tarassov / iStock / thinkstock.com

Alexander_Tarassov / iStock / thinkstock.com

If you spend a week at an all-inclusive resort and don’t gain at least 6 pounds and 1 or 2 waist sizes, you’re not doing it right.

What is All-inclusive?
Started by the Club Med chains, all-inclusive resorts have become more and more popular with the vacation crowd and are mainly found at beach destinations in the Caribbean. If you’re a heavy eater, prodigious drinker, or both, you’re in for a good time. All-inclusives provide all your dining needs, your room, and as much alcohol as you can humanly consume for one price.

There’s More to Life than Just Eating and Drinking
They also usually offer what they call non-motorized water sports which, contrary to my traveling buddy Gene’s opinion, means more than just drinking at the swim-up bar. Some have sea kayaks, Hobie-cat sail boats and windsurfing included in the price with Jet-skis available for rent. Some even have those goofy looking water trikes with the giant balloon wheels which is an experience everyone should have, but only once.

Buffet Heaven
Unless you’re some kind of gourmet diner, you should be happy with the selection of food at most all-inclusives. The breakfast buffets are where you start your day and start getting your money’s worth. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want more bacon? You can have omelets made to order, eggs over-easy, or both. Did I mention the unlimited bacon?

Lunch Buffet
Here they usually offer burgers, hotdogs, pizza and whatever they can put together from last night’s left-overs. If they have a lot of leftovers from last night, you’re not doing it right.

Dinner Buffet
Most resorts have theme nights like Italian night or Mexican night at their dinner buffet. They usually offer plenty of other options though so, if the theme is not your favorite don’t get discouraged, they will have something wrapped in bacon.

What do you Mean I Have to Wear Pants?
Most resorts have at least 2 or 3 specialty restaurants available for your dining needs in the evening. You usually need reservations, even when they are barely full. Why this is I never figured out but maybe they don’t really want you there, which could also explain why they require long pants and shoes for the fellas. All the buffet requires is shirt, shorts and flip flops, so you know where I spend most of my time.

Late Night Needs
They always offer something for late night dining and if you’re really serious about getting your money’s worth, you must put in the effort. Some offer burgers and pizza, others may have wings and nachos, you know, all the stuff your body requires to last until the morning buffet.

Drinks all Around and Keep Them Coming
Unlimited drinks mean just that: there’s always a bar open somewhere and if not, you’ll usually have a stocked mini-fridge in your room. I’m not sure what the norm is for consecutive drinking days but Gene’s record sits right at 7. Some resorts offer top-shelf liquor for an extra price and some just require you to request your brand. Local beers like Corona in Mexico or Red Stripe in Jamaica sometimes even flow from self-serve taps. If you’re into frozen Foo-Foo drinks like Pina-Coladas, Daiquiris or specialties like Funky Monkeys or Tequila Boom Booms, this is the place to be. These guys have industrial strength blenders and trust me, they know how to use them.

Tipping is Not Just What Gene does When He Stands Up
Although most resorts say no tipping required, it goes a long way down there. A few bucks thrown to the bartender helps him remember your drink, and helps when there is a throng at the bar and you’re tired of waiting. A few bucks left for the maid gets you those adorable towel animals we all love and a buck or two along with a note left in the mini-fridge guarantees whatever you request will be stocked.

Withdrawal Warning
If you do everything right and really get your money’s worth at the All-inclusive, you will experience withdrawal on your return home. There will be no breakfast buffet when you awaken, there will be no bottomless pan of bacon placed before you and you will have to mix your own drinks or dry out. After my last trip I even left a buck in the fridge and a request for more beer, but The Wife just ignored it.


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