All-inclusive resorts are great deals, but not in all parts of the world

Montego BayAs winter approaches we’ve definitely been concentrating a lot on the resort scene in the Caribbean and Mexico, because that’s the most popular area for Americans and Europeans alike. But there are resorts all over the world, and the all-inclusive thing has really taken off in many areas, while not at all in others.

Even in the Caribbean, you will find that Dominican Republic and Jamaica are loaded with all-inclusive resorts that offer fantastic value, while on Puerto Rico there are only a couple and they are expensive. The point is, it takes a certain group of conditions for all inclusive resorts to be able to offer great deals, and in many places you are better off going a la carte.

Larger resorts in remote areas do make for all inclusive values

The one pattern that is very clear is that resorts have to be fairly large in order to make a go of the all inclusive plan. You’ll rarely find a resort with fewer than 200 rooms able to offer all inclusive, mostly because the food and drink staff still have to be pretty large for a fewer guests, and it doesn’t grow too much as more are added. In other words, a resort with 50 rooms needs 3 or 4 bartenders on staff, and a resort with 250 rooms might only need 5 or 6, to serve 5 times as many guests.

The other key thing is that resorts have to be in somewhat of an isolated area for it to make sense keeping everyone there the whole time. Imagine an all-inclusive resort in Paris, for example. People to go Paris to see the sights and try 3 new restaurants each day, so no one would book it. A tropical example is Phuket, Thailand, which is another big foodie destination (that also has cheap prices. There are hundreds of luxury resorts in Phuket, but only one or two operate as all inclusives because people love to sample from all over.

In Europe, Spain and Greece lead the way

If you are European you are well aware that the resort season tends to be July and August (except for those who go to Asia in winter), and the largest group of all inclusive hotels are on Spain’s southern coast as well as the Canary Islands, and on the Greek islands. These areas are lined with large hotels along the beach (especially on Spain’s Costa Del Sol area), and not much in the way of culture.

If you look for an all inclusive hotel in Italy or in southern France you aren’t likely to find many, and that’s partly because people love to sample many different restaurants while visiting those places. But in Spain and Greece (and Portugal a bit too) people tend to want to fly in, check in, and sit by the pool between drinks and meals.

Croatia is another popular area for European summer vacations, and it has a few all inclusives also, but it’s another where prices of meals and drinks in general are fairly low, so you aren’t likely to save too much money going that route.