All-inclusive resorts seem great. You pay an up-front price,
then you get to spend a week drinking on the beach,
dining under palm trees, and relaxing next to the pool. Since you don’t have to
pull out your wallet, it almost feels like you’re saving money. And for those with a big
appetite, that’s probably true. But for others, you could
actually end up spending more. $980 more, one study found. That’s because not all
of these all-inclusives are really, well, all-inclusive. Demand for all-inclusive resorts rose to 14% in 2014 from 8% in 2011. And, today, they’re one of
the fastest growing segments in travel accommodation. The most popular ones are
in the Caribbean and Mexico, buy you’ll also find wellness, fitness, and even skiing all-inclusive
resorts across the globe, and they’re all really
good at getting your cash. The sneakiness starts with booking. Alisha Prakash: The all-inclusives
charge a fixed price, and that usually includes the room, all meals and snacks,
some alcoholic beverages, as well as all nonalcoholic beverages, as well as some nonmotorized water sports, so, think kayaking and
stand-up paddleboarding. Narrator: But anything outside of that runs at a steep price. You want a room with an ocean view? That’ll cost you about $800 more for a 10-day stay at a Sandals Bahama and $1,500 more at Sandals Jamaica. Even if you go for a cheaper room, you’ll constantly be pestered to upgrade. Deluxe packages, adventure tours, spa treatments, and fancy restaurants. But the pricing models and
hidden fees are less obvious. Resorts have started using
a price-per-person model. Instead of seeing the price
for a two-person room, you’ll see it broken down per person. Added up, it’s the same price,
but it seems a lot cheaper. Prakash: There are certainly
things like resort fees that you should look out for. Resort fees are very common. They’re not necessarily hidden, but they’re not always disclosed as part of the total room rate. These resort fees can
range anywhere between $4 to $50 per day. Narrator: And those resort fees can add $40 to $500 for a 10-day stay. There are also membership
rates to watch out for. Club Med has an annual fee of $180 stacked on top of its
normal nightly prices. But when you decide to book your vacation can mean extra bucks, too. Most expensive time to
book an all-inclusive is during the holidays. A 10-day stay at a Bahamas
Sandals resort in December is almost $2,500 more
expensive than in May, when the resort has the lowest rates. Prakash: You’re looking
at anywhere between 30% to 40% of a discount if you are traveling in
the summer off-season, especially during hurricane period. Narrator: So, you go
for the most affordable summer booking and maybe
splurge on a few excursions, but that’s the last time you
pull out your wallet, right? Well, not exactly. Your plane tickets typically
aren’t included in the price, and while the transportation
from the airport to the resort is usually included,
the tips for the driver and baggage handlers aren’t. Some resorts, like Beaches and Sandals, say they’re no-tip resorts, but even then, you’ll probably end up tipping
for spa and butler services. Now it’s time to check in
and get your wristband, but hold on to it. The resort might charge you up to $75 for losing your wristband. There are even money traps in your room. Minibars, room service, phone calls, high-speed WiFi, and butler services all come with an upcharge. Having a butler is probably the priciest. At a Sandals resort, one or two couples will share one butler, who is at the guests’ beck and call. They’ll bring food and
drinks, book spa treatments, and take of anything else the guest needs, but for a price. Butlers can tack $900 on to a room plus $50 to $100 per day for a tip. Now it’s time to go explore
all the resort has to offer. Pools, gyms, beaches, Jacuzzis,
you’ve got a lot of options. All-inclusives offer more amenities than you’ll actually use,
and they bank on that. Are you really gonna
get up for sunrise yoga or eat nine meals a day? Maybe not. And any missed workout
class or uneaten meal is money back in the resort’s pocket. Now, we’ve probably heard
the all-inclusive rumors: watered-down drinks and low-end food. And sometimes that’s true, but, actually, resorts are
getting better about this, offering premium wines and stronger drinks if you just ask and pay up. They’re even opening
up Michelin restaurants with nicer meals and maybe an extra fee. Prakash: Once you’re
on the property itself, that’s the biggest time
that you’re more likely to have these up-charges
and additional fees for restricted restaurants. While some resorts will just charge for sitting at the à la carte restaurant, others will charge an additional
fee for specific meals. Narrator: We’re talking
an added $25 per person for a lobster dinner or $20 for hibachi. You’ll also see up-charges for golfing, adults-only sections, Jet Skiing, candlelit meals with your
partner, or kids’ camps. That Instagrammable beach cabana? Yeah, that’ll cost you $125 a day. Even things that are advertised as free can come with a catch. Sandals promotes free scuba diving, but it’s only free if you
have a diving certification. Otherwise, it’ll cost you $100
for the certification course. And try not to forget anything at home. Prakash: There are stores
on-site at certain resorts, and they will certainly
charge a pretty hefty fee for things like sunscreen. Narrator: If you’re wanting
to venture out of the resort, that’ll hurt your wallet, too. According to a 2015
study by Tourism Concern, about two-thirds of
all-inclusive vacationers go on some sort of excursion,
which can add up fast. At Beaches Jamaica, a city
tour will cost $135 per adult, while a day of deep-sea fishing
can cost $225 per person. So, what does this all
actually mean for your wallet? According to a 2018 study
from the UK’s Post Office, UK families spend an average of $980 on top of the price of
their all-inclusive. The top expenses? International-brand alcoholic drinks, snacks, and à la carte dining. But all that spending is
not necessarily your fault. It has to do with your psychology, and resorts bet on that. Prakash: Because you’re
paying your price up front, likely several months in
advance for an all-inclusive, by the time you arrive at the property, your travel budget is out
of sight and out of mind, so when you’re on the property, you might be a little tempted to splurge on an ancillary purchase. Narrator: So, with all the
budget-inflating tricks, is an all-inclusive worth it for anyone? Prakash: It really drills
down to vacation style. All-inclusives are a great option for families, in particular, with kids. If you’re the type of traveler who just wants to relax at the resort and you’re OK with dining
at the same restaurants and not going off the property to explore, then an all-inclusive is a great option. Narrator: For everyone
else, protecting your wallet might mean weighing other options.