All-inclusive resorts seem to be all the rage with hotel chains right now. These are resorts where you get all your meals and activities at the resort included for a single price. For me, it’s like a cruise ship without the ship.
For those of us in the U.S., when you mention an all-inclusive resort, the first thing to come to mind is the Caribbean. Places like Club Med and Sandals have been advertising their vacations to those living in the Northeast for decades. There are literally hundreds of all-inclusive resorts scattered around the Caribbean. The thing is, most of these hotels are independently owned or part of a small chain. Therefore, they aren’t accessible to book with hotel points. That is, until now.
While it’s true that some chains like IHG and Hilton have properties around the islands, there a one-off thing. As if a single hotel decided to go all-inclusive on their own.
Now, there’s a more concerted effort for hotels to market their all-inclusive hotels under a single brand or at least market them at all. The first chain to do this with any consistency was when Hyatt opened its first two Ziva properties in 2014. The Ziva line has expanded to five locations in addition to the three Hyatt Zilara adult-only all-inclusive properties.
Not to be outdone, Marriott just announced that they will be starting an all-inclusive platform starting with five resorts that will open between 2020 and 2025. It’s unclear if these all-inclusive will become another Bonvoy brand or if they will operate under the current brands.
What most US residents don’t realize is that the Caribbean doesn’t have a monopoly on all-inclusive resorts. It seems anywhere with nice beaches is a prime place for these resorts as you can find many locations in Turkey and Egypt.
With more hotel chains adding all-inclusive resorts to their portfolios, it opens up a new chance to use points and miles for vacations. However, I’m not really interested.
Why we don’t like all-inclusive resorts
The thing about all-inclusive resorts is that they tend to be isolated. For ones in the Caribbean, you get off your plane and are shuttled by a resort bus to your home for the next several days. You get to see the beach at your resort. The restaurants at your resort. The pools at your resort and the activities offered at… you get what I mean.
Even with a cruise ship, you dock at different ports and can explore the area for what little time you have. The resort may have a similar activity depending on your location but for the most part, you’re there to visit the resort. And for me, a beach is a beach and all palm trees tend to look alike.
I have limited travel time so I don’t want to spend my vacation sitting by a pool eating at my hotel restaurant. For me, I’m not getting any sense of the place I’m visiting, which is one of the most favorable things about travel for me.
I get why these places are popular. For some, the idea of sitting on a pristine beach watching the sun move across the sky and not having to worry about where they’re going to eat lunch (or how much the meal will cost) is heaven. For me, after about 3 hours of that, I’m bored. If I wanted to sit in a chair by the pool, I could have stayed home.
Having more choices is always better. It opens up possibilities that weren’t there before. I understand the appeal of an all-inclusive resort to people and for them being able to redeem a stay that includes room, food and activities for points is a huge win. However, it’s just not for me. Your Mileage May Vary.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary