What Does All-Inclusive Mean? Your Guide To All-Inclusive Holidays

An all-inclusive holiday is a dream for many people, and it’s easy to see why. It takes going on holiday to a new level. If you go on an all-inclusive resort, it means your stay, unlimited food, drinks, activities and entertainment are included in the booking price of the resort – without any surprise costs. Depending on the location you choose, you can basically leave your wallet at home. Everything has been paid for in advance.

Some of the most fortunate get to bring their all-inclusive resort fantasy to reality in tropical paradises like Jamaica, Cancun or the Bahamas. Set apart from other travel hopefuls, these people are fortunate in the sense that they were able to make up their minds to grant themselves the gift of an all-inclusive getaway!

In this article on the Sandals Blog:

Are all all-inclusive resorts the same?
Are all-inclusive resorts worth the money?
What you can expect to be included.
Adults only resort, or bringing the kids?
Are all-inclusive resorts safe?
Know the difference...
What about the fine print?
What you’ve heard versus the reality
Is the all-inclusive holiday right for you?
Bonus: Take all-inclusive to the next level

Are all all-inclusive resorts the same?

No. Each all-inclusive package offers different benefits.

The trick is to do your research in advance, as the quality of these options may vary, depending upon the hotel or resort that you choose – some resorts include meals and drinks as part of their all-inclusive package, while other things including tours and water sports must be paid for separately – and that would be no good if you want to go out on a jet ski and have no cash…

What you’re looking for is the best version of the all-inclusive concept, which makes it possible for you to literally hop out the door with minimal or no cash, and still have a great day.

This is possible because when you pay for your holiday package, often this includes everything from flights and airport transfer, to luxury accommodation, meals, and entertainment.

All-inclusive means different things depending upon where you go. Rest assured, some of the best all-inclusive resorts can be found in the Caribbean.

Are all-inclusive resorts worth the money?

It can be easy to assume that all-inclusive means the same thing for everybody, and that what you get at one all-inclusive resort is the same thing you’ll get at all. Some all-inclusive resorts are worth the money, some are not. If you’re a seasoned traveller, you would understand by now that with some resorts, the truth is in the fine print! Read up on the following inclusions, and judge for yourself!

What you can expect to be included.

If you haven’t tried an all-inclusive holiday yet, a good place to start is one of Sandals’ award-winning beach resorts, as they set the bar so high with their offerings, that you’ll never settle for less while away again. Watersports (including scuba diving!), first-class dining, luxury airport transfers, as well as bars and entertainment are all some of the many things included in the price of your stay.

Gourmet dining & unlimited soft and alcoholic drinks

With Sandals, some of the all-inclusive perks are 5-star gourmet dining at up to 16 restaurants per resort, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime snacks. Foodies will love this type of all-you-can-eat holiday, especially when you can tell, based on resort ratings, that what you get will be well worth the price you pay. Dining at Sandals includes themed options, which make it possible to give your taste buds a worldwide perspective. At Sandals Ochi for example, you can try cuisines from the Orient, Northern Italian cuisine, Caribbean favourites, and gourmet French cuisine.

Fancy a drink? Not all all-inclusive resorts include alcoholic drinks as part of the package. Sandals hosts up to 11 bars per resort, available to order your favourite alcoholic and soft drinks as often as you want.

Bars are open from early in the morning until late at night. Whether you’re a whiskey lover, or you’d like to take your pick from their extensive cocktail and mixer menu, you’ll find all you wish for at Sandals. Even grabbing a cold beer from their local and international featured brands while you’re swimming isn’t too much to ask for. At Sandals’ swimming pool bars, you can indulge in a wide range of cold and refreshing flavours, without having to get out of the water!

Back to your room you’ll find a fully stacked mini fridge, which is free to use 24-hours a day! Sandals also offers unlimited top-notch Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks® wines as part of their all-inclusive experience.

Water sports

You will have unrestricted access to beaches and water sports, with direct access as resorts are located smack on some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. If you’re a PADI-Certified scuba diver, you’ll be happy to know that all the equipment you’ll need to explore the magic of the undersea is available as part of your package, as are sailing, water skiing, snorkelling and other motorised and non-motorised activities.

Insider Tip: Not PADI-certified yet? Try scuba diving, or get your PADI certification while on vacation. Priced at GBP £400, this is one of the added offerings Sandals makes available for guest’s convenience. Once you’re certified, you can dive for the rest of your trip for free!

This means you can alternate between Hobie Cats, paddle boards, and kayaks, in the most mesmerising waters. Professional instruction is also included, so you won’t need to worry about figuring out how anything works on your own. If you’re looking for something super adventurous and different, opt for a boat exploration of nearby private offshore islands, an option that is available at select resorts.

Round the clock options for entertainment

Even if all you really want to do is relax, it’s still reassuring to know that if you feel like mixing and mingling with the crowd at your couples-only holiday, you can step out of your room and take in top notch entertainment which sometimes includes live bands.

If you’re not up for it, we recommend couples recharge their batteries with a relaxed candle-lit dinner on the beach!


Golf aficionados, your green fees are covered at select Sandals resorts including Sandals Regency La Toc, which features an 9-hole par 33 course, the award-winning Greg Norman designed course at Sandals’ all-inclusive resort in Exuma, Bahamas (18-holes, par 72) and the expansive 18-hole, par 71 golf course at the Sandals resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Sandals recently acquired a new golf course in Saint Lucia, the 18-hole Sandals Golf and Country Club in Cap Estate, which means you can pretty much just play golf and forget about the world during your stay in Saint Lucia. The resort offers free transfers from any of the three Sandals resorts in Saint Lucia to both golf courses, so you don’t have to concentrate on anything but staying on top of your game!

Beach volleyball

Stay at one, play at three! Beach volleyball in Montego Bay (Jamaica) is one of the activities you’ll be able to enjoy while staying at Sandals. Compete with guests from any of the three resorts on at least three different beach settings as part of your stay.

Basketball, day and night tennis, pool tables…

Take your pick. These are all available for your enjoyment, so you can leave your mark on Saint Lucia by beating your partner (or letting them win!) in a host of exciting encounters.

Fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment

When considering an all-inclusive property, it’s understandable that you’re going to want to make sure all the amenities live up to their descriptions on a website and brochure. All Sandals resorts feature top of the line gym equipment as well as complementary classes and training sessions in a range of activities.

Tips, gratuities & hotel taxes included!

At most all-inclusive resorts tips, taxes and gratuities are not completely included in your stay, so you will need to bring some cash to tip staff at the bars, restaurants and front desk (USD will do). It's important to read the fine print! At Sandals Resorts, all taxes and tips are included, so you don't have to worry about this. There's one exception: the butlers. The tip is not obligatory and often depends on the quality of service received. If you're served by multiple butlers, you can divide this tip among them as you wish.

If you plan on venturing out of the resort, it is recommended to bring cash, as most vendors do not accept credit or debit cards.

Luxury rooms and amenities

Last but not least, the accommodation. Stylish and super elegant, Sandals aims to please with their rooms which range from the affordable deluxe and premium rooms, to plush villas with private pools and Butler Suites. The rooms are priced based on category, and each category features different amenities, like the Love Nest Luxury Suites which come complete with Tranquillity Soaking Tubs™ for two, 24-hour room service, VIP check in, and more!

Roundtrip airport transfers

Just as soon as you step out of customs at your destination, you’ll find a Sandals representative waiting to take you to the fully air-conditioned shuttle bus, which will take you directly to your resort. During your departure, a complimentary shuttle will also transport you to the airport. Guests booked in Elite Butler rooms can opt for exclusive Rolls Royce transfers!

Exclusive airport arrival lounge

Not many other all-inclusive resorts can offer exclusive airport arrival lounges, but Sandals can. As part of the Jamaica, Bahamas and the Saint Lucia experience, you’ll find the grandeur of Sandals, in a setting that enhances the comfort of your airport experience, and gives you something to look forward to when you arrive. The whole thing sets the tone for what you’ll encounter later when you get to the resort itself, adding to your luxury included Sandals stay.

Free Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is everything while away from home, and it is refreshing to arrive at a resort that understands just how important it is to stay connected. At Sandals you’ll find Wi-Fi in your room (in all room categories), as well as in all common areas. The codes are given to you upon arrival, and you’re free to use it for as long as you please.

Romance included: a free wedding with your stay

Who doesn’t want a free wedding? Can you imagine booking a stay at a resort for a few days with the love of your life and having an opportunity available for a free destination wedding as part of your package? There is hardly anything dreamier than that and it’s available at all the exquisite locations Sandals offers across the Caribbean. So, remember when selecting a Sandals property, choose well, as you may very well decide to get hitched on one of their glittering island shores!

Insider Tip: Stay at any Sandals resort for at least three nights or more to qualify for a free wedding.

Adults only all-inclusive resort, or bringing the kids?

One of the things that set Sandals apart in the all-inclusive arena is the fact that the properties are adults-only, designed for couples. Sandals provides an upscale adults-only holiday experience that is so comprehensive, that it has become immensely popular for honeymooners, and couples looking to reignite their love. With their motto of ‘love is all you need’, Sandals lives up to the expectations of couples seeking an adults-only retreat; with their wide array of activities available, guests can bond, while on the pristine shores of any Sandals branded property. Sandals resorts have seen so many weddings, honeymoons and vow renewals, that it is safe to say their resorts are some of the most romantic, beachside all-inclusive resorts for couples in the world.

Prefer bringing the kids on an all-inclusive holiday? Beaches' family friendly resorts, part of the Sandals resort family, cater to families with children. Beaches is known and loved for being the ultimate family beach holiday spot, and with properties in Turks & Caicos and Jamaica, these family friendly all-inclusive resorts draw in thousands of visitors from around the globe annually.

At Beaches you’ll find the same all-inclusive benefits as Sandals, with even more attractions including awesome waterparks, Xbox lounges, a Kid’s Camp with certified nannies, and more! To top that off, kids also get the unique opportunity to interact with Sesame Street® characters, through an exclusive partnership. Sesame Street® VIP-packages include a Meet & Greet, buffet breakfast, and the opportunity to have an awesome Caribbean adventure your kids will never forget!

Are all-inclusive resorts safe?

In general, all-inclusive resorts are one of the safest ways to holiday. The resorts are often gated off from the rest of the destination, the entrance being guarded 24 hours by trained security personnel. Established brands like Sandals, have been around for over 38 years – and use best-in-class methods at all destinations.

Sandals works together with various government and law enforcement resources (including the US embassy) to keep the resorts the safest place to be. Background checks including a criminal record search are performed for all prospective employees, after which continuous training keeps the staff best in class. On top of that, Sandals uses a state-of-the-art closed circuit television surveillance systems, which are monitored 24 hours a day by our security personnel.

Rest assured, Sandals does everything it can to make sure its guests have a worry-free retreat.

Know the difference…

You might be wondering about the difference between an all-inclusive and some of the other holiday options available. Here’s a few of the most popular trips measured up against the all-inclusive package:

All-inclusive vs A la carte

All-inclusive resorts typically cover lodging, daily meals, drinks, gratuities, and other services. A la carte resorts, as the name suggests, allows you to select what you need for your holiday, rather than a combination of services at a fixed price. Often this means you’ll ended up paying more than expected, at the end of your trip.

All-inclusive vs Self-catering

At most self-catering hotels, resorts, or villa options, you’ll have various facilities made available to you (including kitchenettes or full kitchens), so that you can feel right at home on your holiday. This option means you’ll more or less have to do everything yourself (like food shopping, preparing your meals etc.), unlike the all-inclusive concept where you can just sit back and relax, having everything done for you.

All-inclusive vs Half-board

Half-board properties tend to include some options and services, and not others as part of your package. For example, two meals, such as breakfast and lunch may be included, but not snacks, drinks and dinner. This is very different from the all-inclusive option where all meals and drinks are included in your stay.

All-inclusive vs Full-board

Full-board means that you can expect most meals to be provided as part of your stay. Some full board hotels charge extra for things like (alcoholic) drinks and snacks, which sets them apart from the all-inclusive hotels and resorts.

What about the fine print?

When selecting an all-inclusive resort, you’re going to have to make sure that the price you pay truly includes everything. At some resorts, not all the food and drinks are included, and you’ll find yourself shelling out more cash for more pricey meal items, and top shelf spirits. At other resorts, guests are free to take advantage of all-inclusive benefits only until check out time, unbeknownst to the ones who do not ask. While at Sandals you can enjoy the all-inclusive benefits until you depart from the property, the day of your departure. It helps to ask ahead of time to ensure you know what you’re in for.

Check out the Sandals FAQ to find out more.

What you’ve heard about all-inclusive resorts versus the reality

Every experience is different when it comes to travelling. People can go to the same destinations, and come back with entirely different reviews. Whether it’s an all-inclusive package, a la carte, self-catering, half or full board, what matters is that you know what to expect ahead of time.

While some all-inclusive resorts leave much to be desired from their guests who are often frustrated, finding out about hidden costs after the fact, Sandals offers a comprehensive all-inclusive package that is second to none: no hidden costs, everything is being taken care of.

Is the all-inclusive retreat right for you?

If you want to go on holiday and think about nothing else but having the time of your life, then an all-inclusive holiday might be perfect for you – even if you don’t drink alcohol. All-inclusive retreats are a true escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, without having to worry what the bill will end up at the end of your stay. There are no limitations when it comes to eating out in the finest restaurants, enjoying live music and entertainment – while hanging out on the safest and most idyllic beaches of the Caribbean. With stunning resorts in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Antigua, and the Bahamas, the Sandals all-inclusive experience is a dream coming true!

Any other questions about Sandals’ all-inclusive package? Call us on (888) 726-3257. We’ll be happy to assist you!

Bonus: Take all-inclusive to the next level

Overwater bungalows

The overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean resort in Montego Bay Jamaica are built along a classic, heart-shaped pier, but they aren’t the only overwater bungalows Sandals offers.

You can also find overwater bungalows at Sandals South Coast in Whitehouse, Jamaica, and Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Beach Resort & Spa. It’s going to be hard to believe you’re not at some faraway location in the Maldives while experiencing the exclusivity of the overwater bungalows which feature glass floors, a suspended patio with a swim-up platform!

Seeing is believing:

Skypool Suites

The Skypool Suites at Sandals Grenada are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You will wake up to an infinity plunge pool, posh décor, and butler service as part of your stay. Tranquillity Soaking Tubs™ included!

Seeing is believing:

Swim up rooms

At the most Sandals resorts in Jamaica and the Bahamas you’ll find luxurious swim up rooms, also known as the River Pool Suites. There’s a Zen garden nearby, outstanding views, elegant bathroom finishes, and a comfy mahogany four poster bed!

Seeing is believing:

River pool suites at Sandals Royal Bahamian, the Bahamas.

Swim up crystal lagoon suites at Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica.

Swim up suites at Sandals Negril, Jamaica.

Swim up suites at Sandals Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Beachfront Rondoval Suites

The beachfront Rondoval Suites available at the Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Beach Resort & Spa in Saint Lucia take opulence to a new level. With a private plunge pool and whirlpool, and your own personal butler, you won’t have to lift a finger, unless of course it’s to indulge in delectable delights of your choosing.

Seeing is believing:

Beachfront Rondovals at Sandals Grande Saint Lucian.

Rondoval Suites at Sandals Grande Antigua.

And last, but not least...

The Millionaire Suites

Made for those who love indulging in the best life has to offer, the Millionaire Suites at Sandals Regency La Toc aim to please the most elite travellers. Here you’ll find service and luxury that is comparable to none. The ambiance of Sandals Regency La Toc Golf & Spa complements the choice of this suite effortlessly, so much so that you’ll wonder why you didn’t come sooner!

Seeing is believing:

Millionaire Suites at Sandals Regency La Toc.

Pick your favourite Sandals all-inclusive resort!

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Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.

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