The MANual: Honeymoon

All-Inclusives: The Good, the Bad, and the Scammy

An all-inclusive resort might seem to be the answer to your honeymoon planning prayers. You pay one price, and you get everything. Honeymoon planning done. Unfortunately, not all all-inclusives are created equal.

Some resorts are awesome, truly living up to their “all-inclusive” name. Others take the alternative facts approach to their all-inclusivity. Here are the things to watch out for when researching and booking a resort honeymoon.

1. ” All”-Inclusive Means “Mostly”-Inclusive

Even the best all-inclusive resorts will charge extra for certain things, some of them justified, some…not as much. If you want to dine exclusively at the highest-end restaurant on the property, or go parasailing over the crystal-clear water, be prepared to pay more.

Off-property excursions are understandably extra. Less understandably, sometimes WiFi is extra as well. Sometimes there is an additional charge for premium liquor.

As with anything else, read the fine print before you book. Also, check out the user reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, Expedia, and Yelp: if there’s one thing that people like to do, it’s complain about bad service, so these sites are great for learning about obscure or even underhanded practices.

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2. “Perks” Means More Than Size

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Hotels and resorts usually offer a variety of room categories, and each category comes with its own level of perks. It’s not just a matter of getting a room-with-a-view or a larger suite or a king-size vs. a queen-size bed: different room categories come with different levels of guest access and service. The highest levels might come with their own private lounge and concierge, for instance, or a butler and cooking staff. That kind of service and exclusivity comes at a higher price.

This is where a travel agent could come in handy: they typically have relationships with these properties, know the ins and outs of all the room categories, and can give you the real lowdown on what’s most worth your while (and your dollar).

3. “All-Inclusive” Probably Means the Beach

Looking for an all-inclusive resort in Italy, Greece, Spain, France or anywhere else in Europe? You’re going to be looking for a long time. It’s not that such places don’t exist; they just don’t exist in any kind of abundance. They are harder to find and may not be in the areas you want.

The all-inclusive experience remains solidly the purview of beach destinations (mainly Mexico and the Caribbean). Outside of these  locales, it’s a crapshoot.

4. “All-Inclusive” Doesn’t Always Mean “Cheaper”

Even if a destination has a ton of great all-inclusive resorts, it doesn’t mean those resorts are your best value in that area. If you’re staying in a safe, walkable beachside city with lots of bars and restaurants, your honeymoon will be cheaper than if you stay within the confines of a resort complex. The trade-off is that you’ll need to plan a bit more, and risk ending up having a bad meal or a boring evening. If that doesn’t feel like a trade-off, then it’s worth looking into. But if you want maximum relaxation with as little effort on your part as possible, all-inclusive resorts are still the bomb.

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5. “Spring Break” Means “Stay Away”

This is your honeymoon, so the closer you can get to being alone at the resort, the better.

Obviously you never have the place completely to yourself, but if you’re not careful, you might find yourself up sharing the beach with noisy families or, even worse, in the middle of a keg party, surrounded by the sort of red solo cup bro that you used to be.

For most warm climate destinations, the months of February and March are to be strictly avoided, as you will hit the dreaded Spring Break rush–a swarm of loathsome college kids flooding in to get frat boy schwasted. Not hot at any time, but definitely not hot on your honeymoon. You’re married now. If you’re going to get wasted, it will be with your wife, not five hundred cheering strangers in backward baseball caps and cargo shorts.

Bottom Line

When choosing an “all-inclusive” honeymoon resort, know what you’re getting into. Don’t end up blasting through your budget in the first three days.

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