All about all-inclusive holidays

All-inclusive holidays have become increasingly popular over the years – and if you want to know exactly what your holiday will cost you, they’re perfect. Holiday companies like Thomas Cook and Thomson are always adding new all-inclusive properties to their summer brochures and First Choice has been all-inclusive only since 2012.

Why go all-inclusive?
While package holidays include flights, transfers, accommodation and some meals, all-inclusive extends to all food, drinks, entertainment, kids’ club and some activities so you’re pretty much paid up in advance. Many budget-conscious Brits love it as it avoids the dreaded credit card bill when you get home as there’s less risk of overspending – especially in the hotel bar…

Can I go all-inclusive anywhere?
All-inclusive resorts first started in the Caribbean in the 1970s, but over the years, they’ve cropped up everywhere, making exotic destinations like Thailand and the Indian Ocean a little more affordable too as well as offering cheaper holidays closer to home in Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt and Morocco. There are also more and more all-inclusives in European favourites like Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain – and with the pound-to-euro rate a little better than it has been it’s one way to beat the price hikes. Many hotels are adding all-inclusive features to join the trend.

If I’m paying all-inclusive, does that mean paying it all up-front?
Different tour operators will have special deals and offers, so you may be able to pay half now, half later. Always ask. One new initiatives is frm who offer customers interest-free monthly payment plans from £25 per month and holiday deposits from £49. You should also ask about price matching if you find a better deal but want to book with the travel agent or tour operator who has been helping you.

Top tips to remember:
– Remember all-inclusive covers all budgets from luxury five-star to comfortable two-star. Gone are the days when it only meant super-expensive or plain tacky but do remember that the pictures you see may be showing higher-category rooms so double check what you will get for the package your choose.
– All-inclusive holidays are often resort-based, so check you and the family are happy with that. There may not be public transport and if the resort is far from the nearest town, a taxi ride can be expensive. Alternatively consider hiring a car while you’re there.
– Wifi is often a must for families so check the resort offers free wifi otherwise internet fees can be high.
– Some resorts are on huge grounds, so ask for a room that isn’t too far from the main restaurant or beach, especially if you have very young children.
– Find out the range of dining options at the resort. The same buffet restaurant can get dull if you’re eating there three times a day in one week, even if is good value! Most resorts now offer more than a decent selection for a week’s stay.
– Drinks are almost always included on all-inclusives but ask about any restrictions. Some resorts offer alcoholic drinks at specific times only or exclude cocktails. In budget resorts, it may be that only local brand alcohol will be served/included in the cost.
– Manage expectation. All-inclusive means different things in different properties and there may be certain activities which aren’t included, for example, motorised watersports or individual spa treatments.
– Some resorts charge over the odds for things such as spa treatments or extra tours. It’s often worth finding a local massage place for a cheaper experience.
– Because you may have paid in advance and feel like you are spending ‘nothing’ on holiday, it’s easy to get tempted into ordering menu items which aren’t part of the all-inclusive option. If money is an issue, stick to what’s included in the package as that way, you’ll be keeping to the original budget.

Read on: All-inclusive holiday ideas