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To All-Inclusive Or Not:
By Michelle R. Mangio
Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Specialist of Magical Escapes Vacations


    When it comes to planning your honeymoon, one of the questions that undoubtedly comes to mind is: all-inclusive or not? And even then, it is rarely so simple a question: what does all-inclusive really mean? Is it right for me? What if I want a couples-only retreat, or the ultimate pampering in luxury?

The answers to these questions is often where a Honeymoon Specialist comes in, and can save you a lot of headache and hassle – as well as securing the best deals – when it comes to planning your honeymoon getaway. They know the All-Inclusive resorts, and the differences between them, so they can make certain you have exactly the honeymoon you want. You’ll also save with them, because you won’t pay more using a Honeymoon Travel Agent; in fact, many times you’ll pay less, and may get some extras, like upgrades or spa credits, thrown in for free.

Generally-speaking, “All-Inclusive”means a single fee which covers accommodations, hotel taxes, tips & gratuities, all meals, unlimited drinks, and a very long list of activities available on or through the resort. What’s not included? Airfare, departure taxes, purchases from the gift shops, phone calls, rental cars, off-site excursions (with some exceptions), and spa treatments are generally not included. Note that if you choose to Cruise, drinks (both alcoholic and not) and tips are also generally not included, unless you choose a luxury cruise line (like Silversea or Crystal) or a River Cruise (where even the excursions are included in your price).

So why should you choose an All-Inclusive resort? The best reason of all: peace of mind.

You’ve spent months and months planning the perfect wedding, stressing and sweating over every little detail. Now that the Big Day is done and you’re off alone together on that perfect romantic getaway, the last thing you want to do is sweat the little details, like worrying if you have enough money for that romantic dinner together or if you feel obligated to carry your own luggage because you can’t spare a tip for the bellman. When you choose an all-inclusive resort, all of that is already covered for you – you don’t need to worry about an additional expenses that might add some stress to what should be a relaxing time.

But it’s also true that All-Inclusive Resorts often save you up to 25% off the rates of doing it all on your own. When comparing costs, don’t forget that all meals and resort activities are included, saving you considerable expense.

You also get the opportunity to try activities, sports, or even drinks you’ve always wanted to try for free. Activities such as snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing, waterskiing, and more are often complimentary, though always check with the resort to see exactly what is included. For golf lovers and scuba enthusiasts, those all-inclusives not only represent significant savings, you can indulge in the sports you love most without denting the wallet.

If you’re interested in a Destination Wedding, then an all-inclusive becomes even more attractive: many all-inclusive resorts, especially in the Caribbean and Mexico, include a wedding package for free if you stay a minimum number of nights.

So what are the downfalls of an all-inclusive package?

Having that all-in-one price encourages you to stay on the resort, rather than venture off it. If all you’re looking for is a relaxing getaway where the beach is the furthest you wish to venture, then this is definitely for you. But if you want to explore native culture and cuisine, you may want to look at alternatives, or choose an All-Inclusive that has several properties in the region and offers sharing privileges (so that you can visit the other resorts and enjoy their restaurants and activities). There are two big exceptions to this rule, however: Couples Resorts, with four (soon to be five) properties in Jamaica, and Palace Resorts, with properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Puerta Vallarta, and (soon to be) Dominican Republic, offer tours and activities to local attractions as part of their all-inclusive rate. For that reason, these two All-Inclusive chains are among the best value properties out there – and that’s not even going into the amazing resorts they offer.

As mentioned before, some extras – such as Spa treatments – are not included, so if a Spa getaway is your ideal Honeymoon, be certain to choose a resort that offers either an “all-inclusive” spa package, or one with spa treatments already included. You can save headache and money by pre-booking your treatments.

Choose your all-inclusive wisely: a long list of inclusions and activities means very little if all you want to do is lounge on the beach. But even if that is your goal, an all-inclusive may still be the way to go if you don’t want to worry about money or extra expenses during your honeymoon.

So now you’ve decided you want an all-inclusive, but where should you go? Here is just a sampling of some of the resorts and destinations that you can choose from:

First, if you’re looking at Hawaii, think again. There are no all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii. That being said, your Honeymoon Specialist can help you put together a package including activities and some meals to help you save.

Likewise, Tahiti & Her Islands do not offer all-inclusives (with the exception of Club Med on Bora Bora, though it does not offer overwater bungalows). Most resorts, though, offer Meal Plans (usually a significant savings off of purchasing the meals once you arrive), and you can pre-book most major activities to create an all-inclusive package.

If you crave the South Pacific, however, and want a try All-Inclusive experience, look instead towards Fiji. Many resorts on these islands offer all-inclusive packages, complete with meals, activities, and drinks. You’ll find that many of these packages are the same cost as an all-inclusive in the Caribbean, but offer a much more exotic and unique experience. Or head on Down Under, to the Great Barrier Reef Islands or the tropical Rainforest: Lizard Island and Bedarra Island offer all-inclusive rates in an unforgettable tropical island setting, while Silky Oaks Lodge set in the heart of the Rainforest offers a different, yet unique, experience.

Want something more exotic? In the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa, look to Mauritius, the Seychelles, or Zanzibar. Combine this with an African Safari – which are also all-inclusive, and include all of your game drives – and you have the ultimate honeymoon experience.

But if you’re looking closer to home, there are All-Inclusive Resorts throughout all of the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America (such as Costa Rica and Belize), even in some of the lesser well-known area, giving you a wide number of resorts and locations to choose from. If your mind is boggled by the number of choices, a Honeymoon Specialist can help you narrow down the options, and find the all-inclusive that best matches your dreams and budget.


Here’s just a few suggestions:

Couples Resorts in Jamaica. Offering four properties (soon to be five), they are the cream of the crop when it comes to All-Inclusives on this island (three of their resorts made Conde Nast’s Gold List), with the highest satisfaction and repeat rate among honeymooners. As their name implies, they are Couples Only, and their all-inclusive rates include shopping shuttles, sunset catamaran cruises, day trips, first spa treatment, and golf.

Sandals Resorts (voted Caribbean's Leading Hotel Brand for the 13th consecutive year at the World Travel Awards) offers properties throughout the Caribbean, including the more well-known destinations of Jamaica and the Bahamas, as well as the romantic isles of Antigua and St.Lucia. They offer not only Concierge service, but on most resorts offer Butler Service as well for that true pampering experience. Even better, they have a hurricane guarantee, offering a free return trip if a hurricane interrupts your honeymoon (a great deal for those with weddings in hurricane season).

SuperClubs offers resorts in the Bahamas, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, and include all the creature comforts plus scuba diving, golf, and nude beaches at many locations.

Palace Resorts in Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and (opening this year) the Dominican Republic, offers both Adults only and Family properties, with golf included in some locations. Their Passport Promotion includes sightseeing, activities, and tours throughout the local regions, all included!

Elite Island Resorts, with properties in Antigua, St.Lucia, Grand Cayman, Tortola (BVI), St.Kitts, and the private island resort of Palm Island, offers more upscale all-inclusives in some locations for those desiring a little more elegance and luxury.

Karisma Resorts, in the Riviera Maya, offers exceptional properties. The El Dorado Seaside Suites is one of Forbes.com “Most Romantic Hotels,” and El Dorado Royale has earned AAA’s prestigious Four Diamond award. And for total stresslessness and the ultimate in pampering, look no further than Azul Blue Hotel. This is vacation sanctuary designed especially for rest, relaxation and tranquility, and everything about Azul Blue Hotel has been designed with that in mind. Its 96 suites boast marble baths, plasma-screen TVs and iPod docking stations, as well as Butlers who unpack or draw baths.

But if luxury is truly on your mind, then Royal Hideaway Playacar is the All-Inclusive Resort for you. The first adults-only all-inclusive resort to win the presitigious Five Diamond award from AAA, Royal Hideaway is a place where service and style come together in such grand fashion that it will forever change the way you view the word vacation. You'll reside in luxurious villa accommodations, and be waited upon by extensive concierge service and poolside attendants to ensure you spend more time relaxing and less time thinking.

If you don’t want to remain land-locked, consider a Cruise. Accommodations, meals, and all onboard activities and entertainment are included, with the added bonus of visiting several exciting ports of call. Cruises are offered all over the world: explore the Caribbean, or head off to Europe, the South Pacific, even Africa and Asia. Luxury lines like Silversea and Crystal include drinks and, in some cases, shore excursions in their prices. Or, if you want something a little different, take a River Cruise, where drinks and excursions are usually included, and where you get a more intimate exploration of Europe or China.

Regardless of which resort or destination you choose, you’ll find that an all-inclusive resort is the perfect way to ensure a stress-free honeymoon, where you can focus on each other and not worry about budgeting meals or activities. Peace of mind is a priceless extra that you will want to be sure you include in your honeymoon, and choosing All-Inclusive is one way to do it.

Click here to Book your Dream Vacation with Magical Escapes Vacations and Travel Impressions


About Michelle Mangio
Michelle Mangio is the owner of Magical Escapes Vacations, based in Attleboro, MA. She is a certified Honeymoons & Destination Weddings Specialist, who likes to add that extra special touch to honeymoon vacations to make them truly unforgettable. With expertise in many popular honeymoon locations, including Tahiti & the South Pacific, Australia, Aruba, Hawaii, Cancun, and more, she has the knowledge and contact to plan that perfect honeymoon getaway.

About Magical Escapes Vacations

Magical Escapes Vacation is a full-service travel agency specializing in complete destination planning for any occasion. “Don’t just make reservations. Make experiences. Create memories. Live your dreams.” Let Magical Escapes Vacations take the stress and uncertainty out of vacation planning by assisting you in creating a vacation to remember for a lifetime. Our unique personalized approach will exceed your expectations. We treat each vacation like it was our own, and will work with you to find the perfect getaway. So escape away today… because everyone deserves a vacation.
For more information, contact Michelle at Magical Escapes Vacations toll-free at 866-698-7849 or locally at 508-717-2535, by email at michelle @ magicalescapes.com, or online at http://www.magicalescapes.com

Magical Escapes Vacationshttp://www.magicalescapes.travel

(This article originally appeared in the April 2007 Edition of the Wedding Day Sourcebook)





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