An all-inclusive resort vacation isn’t for everyone, but there’s no denying that paying one fixed price that includes everything is seductively efficient. But not all resorts are created equal. For dive travelers especially, a little savvy can go a long way to ensuring your next (or first) all-inclusive is the perfect fit.
» Consider the Destination
Before you book, consider whether your destination is right for an all-inclusive stay. Resort zones like the ones in Cozumel or Punta Cana are ideal if you plan to spend the whole time on property and if there’s a reputable affiliated dive shop. Peek at a map to see where the resort is in relation to the dive sites — spending a few hours each day commuting by boat or bus will seriously cut into your relaxation time.
» Consider the Season
For the best deals, book in the off-season. June to November is hurricane season in the Caribbean and Mexico (don’t worry; just buy trip insurance), and many resorts offer discounts of up to 60 percent off their high-season rates.
» Booking Early vs. Last Minute
It’s true that hotels and resorts offer last-minute deals during the off-season, but booking a flight on short notice could eat up the savings. You might have to plan your trip anywhere from three months to a year in advance for the best price.
» Go Niche
If your vacation is built around a singular purpose — say, diving — then forgo the big resorts for one that caters to your niche. The little perks, like meals scheduled around the dive boat and a built-in community of like-minded vacationers, will be well worth any extra cost.
» Check the Fine Print
Make sure you know what is truly included in your package. Are inclusive meals offered only at the buffets, or the a la carte restaurants as well? Is there a cutoff time for all-inclusive drinks? And check whether the resort charges for amenities like Internet access, lounge chairs or to rent sporting equipment.
» Take Advantage of the Activities
Once you’ve committed to a resort, take full advantage of as many included activities as possible. Check the program or ask the activities coordinator about things like kids’ camps, cooking classes, live shows, or programs highlighting the local culture.