Some travelers who want to visit popular vacation destinations such as Hawaii, Key West, or Florida, might try searching for all-inclusive resorts in these areas. However, this could be harder to find than you think. Some resorts in the United States may claim to be “all-inclusive,” but are they really? To examine this question, we must first look at what the term “all-inclusive” means.
The True All Inclusive
It’s commonly understood that all inclusive means that accommodations, a minimum of three meals daily, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), tips and taxes, daily activities and nightly entertainment are ALL included with the price of your stay. In addition, many times airport transfers are also included.
With that said, it’s possible to find vacation destinations in the U.S. that claim to be all inclusive, but when you examine what a hotel or resort offers, you will most likely find that alcohol and hotel taxes and gratuities have not been included. Or there may be other extra costs in the fine print. If you visit one of these vacation spots, you will still be liable for the taxes on your bill.
In addition, you will not want to forget to tip appropriately. For example, you will still want to leave a tip for wait staff at restaurants and for housekeeping staff.
Also, if you plan to consume alcohol, keep in mind that this bill could add up quickly as well. Either way, when purchasing an “all-inclusive” vacation in the U.S., it’s best to ask what is definitely included and what is not included. After all, who wants surprises while on vacation?
When most people think about all inclusive, they picture resorts on white or pink sandy beaches of the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. It really does seem like the Caribbean is the king of the all-inclusive vacation destinations. There are several reasons for this.
Why the Caribbean is King to All Inclusives
One of the main reasons why resort chains locate to the Caribbean and Mexico is due to lower operational costs. The cost of labor and supplies needed to run an all inclusive resort in the Caribbean is much cheaper than you might find in the United States. This comparison is especially true for somewhere like Hawaii, where the cost of goods is high. By locating an all inclusive resort in the Caribbean, this makes the all inclusive vacation more affordable for families, and it also provides a great source of jobs for the local area. It seems to be a win-win for everyone involved: the hotel makes money, the vacationer ends up with an affordable and stress-free stay, and the local economy gets a boost with the added employment.
Another reason that the U.S. is not known for all-inclusives is that the business model currently used by U.S. hotels works. It’s easier for U.S. hotels to make their profits by just including the accommodations, and perhaps a meal, like breakfast. For U.S. travelers, there is so much convenience in regards to food, entertainment, and activities within vacation destinations that the demand for having an all inclusive just isn’t there. Finding a restaurant or some form of entertainment is just a matter of hopping in your own car, a rental car, or a cab to get to what you want. And in many locations, dining and activities might be within walking distance.
This is different in the Caribbean however. While a cab ride might be an option, being able to get all of your meals on one property is an enticing perk to vacationing at a Caribbean all-inclusive resort, especially when so many all inclusive properties offer a variety of dining experiences.
The same goes for activities. With a number of activities available at an all inclusive resort, or through its tour desk, finding a reputable local business does not have to become part of a vacationer’s to-do list. The work has already been done for you by the resort, which has already chosen reputable tour operators, and/or has taken on the work of hosting certain activities on-site.
In addition, in some areas of the Caribbean, there just may not be that many local eateries that could accommodate large traffic from a hotel, or several hotels. In addition, food preparation, storage, handling and safety are different in other parts of the world than they are in the U.S. However, at all inclusive resorts, especially those that offer fine dining, food quality and safety is paramount, making the all-inclusive concept an even more attractive option than trying to venture out on your own for a meal.
U.S. All Inclusive Vacations
So if you are set on an all inclusive in Florida, we could only find one true all inclusive resort—the Club Med Sandpiper, which is north of West Palm Beach by about 30 minutes. This family friendly resort does include airport transfers, taxes and gratuities, a Club Room accommodation (pre-renovation), activities and amenities for adults and children, gourmet meals in buffet format, and premium drinks. So it is a true all inclusive resort, however if you are seeking a vacation on the ocean, this resort isn’t for you. The Club Med Sandpiper is set on 393 feet of beach along the St. Lucie river. The resort does mention that a cab ride to a beach 20 minutes away is available, however it warns that this public beach often has dangerous rip currents and does not have any lounge chairs or umbrellas.
Another type of all inclusive vacation more unique to the U.S. is the guest (or dude) ranch experience. For those that love outdoor activities like horseback riding (and lots of it), hiking, swimming, and more, some ranches in the U.S. will offer as close to an all inclusive experience as possible. Since you are often in a more isolated area, it makes sense to have meals included with your accommodations, but Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, CO, also includes riding, skiing (seasonal), and other activities; beer, wine, and soda; nightly entertainment, excursions to shopping locations and much more. Service charges are not added to your bill, and tipping is not allowed. If a ranch vacation is for you, and you price a vacation at Vista Verde, please note that taxes are added at the time of checkout at 3.9%.
Finding that All Inclusive Deal
While these are just two examples of all inclusive vacations in the United States, there may be others, but a true all inclusive resort that includes accommodations, a minimum of three meals daily, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), tips and taxes, daily activities and nightly entertainment is definitely hard to find.
“We know that the all inclusive vacation is very popular with our clients and they want to have that same experience in the United States and especially in Florida”, said Tom Carr, President of All Inclusive Outlet. “Although we would love to assist our valued clients by providing this type of all inclusive getaway, it really only exists in the Caribbean, Mexico and select destinations like Panama and Costa Rica. Here is where you will find the greatest deals.
"However, many people forget that the U.S. Virgin Islands are still part of the United States,” continued Carr. “They are United States Territories, so U.S. citizens only need a photo ID and a certified birth certificate to travel there. No passport is required. We offer several great all inclusive resort options for the U.S. Virgin Islands for those who would like to stay within a U.S. Territory.”