Are All-Inclusive Resorts Bad?

All-Inclusive Resorts are a big business, especially in Mexico and the Caribbean. They lure in mass tourism by the plane full to paradise and they give you all you can eat and drink for a reasonable price. Basically it’s like a cheap Carnival cruise ship. I have generally avoided these all-inclusive resorts throughout my travels and in fact my life. However, I just stayed at an all-inclusive that I liked and it got me thinking. Are all-inclusive resorts bad?

Are All-Inclusive Resorts Bad?, Sandals Exuma, Bahamas

To be completely open, I’ve stayed at a few all-inclusive resorts in my travels. I stayed at the adults only Club Med in both Turks and Caicos and Kemer, Turkey. I also keynoted a conference at one in Cancun and a wedding at one in Playa del Carmen. Lastly, I stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the Melia in Varadero, Cuba and one I can’t recall the name in Negril, Jamaica.

 

I absolutely hated the ones in Negril, Punta Cana and Cancun because they were honestly disgusting and the quality of people was not good. I didn’t like the one in Varadero but it served its purpose. I liked the one in Playa del Carmen because it was one of my best friends weddings and I had a blast at both Club Meds but we were there simply to party so we got exactly what we expected.

 

So on my birthday trip to Exuma, Bahamas we stayed at the Sandals All-Inclusive Resort. I had never stayed at a Sandals and honestly didn’t know much about them at all. To me, and to most hotel snobs, all-inclusive resorts have a negative stigma, as they are known to be trashy, dirty with bad drinks and bad food. The Sandals in Exuma, Bahamas was not that and has changed or at least altered my opinion of all-inclusive resorts.

Are All-Inclusive Resorts Bad?

Sandals Exuma used to be a Four Seasons Resort. So right there it had to have a certain level of luxury. It also has a Greg Norman designed, stunning Oceanside golf course that was in perfect condition. Most top resorts don’t have that. The rooms were excellent. The spirits offered were high quality like Johnnie Walker Black if you like Scotch. But the food was actually very good with a lot of options and that’s what set it apart for me.

Are All-Inclusive Resorts Bad?, golf, Sandals, Exuma, Bahamas

Sandals Exuma had something like 8 specialty restaurants and we ate at 5 of them on our 5 nights. Each was better than the last with French, Indian, Japanese, Italian and more. I was shockingly impressed and I am tough to impress, especially with food. Maybe it’s because I had zero expectations that I was impressed but regardless I was very happy.

 

The buffet for lunch and the breakfast spread were not great but I don’t normally eat breakfast anyway so I didn’t really care that much. They also had pop-up hot dog stands and other foods like jerk chicken etc. It was nice.

 

The resort wasn’t crowded and it was very large in area. I never felt crowded or annoyed. The price wasn’t cheap at about $600 per night but it wasn’t ridiculous either especially taking into account food and drinks based on double occupancy. So all in all I was pretty pleased.

Are All-Inclusive Resorts Bad?, golf

The negatives were island time. As with anywhere in the Caribbean things take a long time and you must be patient, even if you have 3 butlers, as we did. Secondly the tourism desk sucked. They were overpriced and unhelpful so I would suggest booking tours with local operators. But really that’s about it on the downside-I can live with that.

Are All-Inclusive Resorts Bad?

So are all-inclusive resorts bad? I think the answer to that lies in where you stay and whom you’re with and who else is there. I think that all-inclusive resorts are great for a group of people, especially several couples or friends. This way you’re all in the same place and don’t have to deal with paying every drink etc. It makes life easier and for me, if it were a high-end place I’d do it again for sure.

Comments

  1. Personally we love all-inclusive resorts with children. It makes our lives easier and is very cost effective.

  2. I’m a fan because it’s easy. I’m on vacation and I want to relax and have everything easy-that’s the point.

  3. Both my Chef de Cuisine and my souls chef from Flying Fish that worked with me when you came to visit are now running the food at that resort. Now you know why the food was so good.

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