My job as a travel agent is to match my clients desires with the perfect vacation experience. This week, I would like to give you the ins-and-outs of all inclusive (AI) resorts versus the European plan (EP) resorts to help you decide which type of resort fits your vacations needs. Many of my clients assume they want an all-inclusive resort but when we start discussing their vacation needs they find that they are not a great fit.
The All Inclusive
All-inclusive is just what it’s name implies. The per night charge includes all food and beverages, including alcohol, all taxes and gratuities and numerous restaurants and bars. Many of the resorts also include extra amenities such as limited water sports or other activities not available at EP resorts. This type of resort is perfect for those travelers who just want to get away and don’t have any plans of venturing off the resort frequently for excursions in the surrounding area. If you are looking for a great place to hang out, relax and are not too adventurous at heart, the AI’s would be a perfect fit. Here is a quick list of the pros:
- Fixed price – You do not have to wonder how much cash you need. Everything is included with the exception of any money you will want to spend on souvenirs or excursions. If you will be partaking of the alcoholic drinks at the rate of several a day, this could be a good option. Drink prices can range anywhere from a few dollars to the $20 dollar range in some areas.
- Size – These resorts have everything you could want in a vacation destination. They offer numerous options for dining, activities, pools, spas, etc. There are AI’s designed for every type of vacationer. If you want luxury, they have it. If you want a party atmosphere, there is one for that. Adult-only… that too.
- Total relaxation – Room service, swim up bars, beach loungers, casual to fine dining. The resorts will take care of everything for you. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the vacation.
A quick list of the cons:
- Price per night – The cost of an all inclusive resort is generally higher than it’s counterpart. If you will not be spending all of your time at the resort it may not be the best option for you.
- Resort size – Generally, the AI’s are the largest of the resorts. This means more people and sometimes that relates to less one-on-one service unless you are willing to pay the upgrade price for the luxury service.
The European Plan Resort
The term “European plan” simply means, pay as you go. You pay a per night rate for the resort like you would any other hotel. Your meals, drinks and other amenities are not included in your room rate. You may wonder why you would ever want to choose an EP over an AI. If you want everything in one place, you wouldn’t want to make that choice but if you only want a great place to stay while you explore the area and all it has to offer then the EP is a perfect choice.
- Unique Resorts – Many of the boutique hotels and smaller quaint resorts are based on the EP model. I particularly love the boutique hotels because they are unique and often very quaint and full of charm unlike the overly large AI resorts.
- Freedom – I’ve seen clients get into the habit of feeling like they have to rush back to the resort for meals and such to make sure they get their moneys worth. If you have chosen a resort or hotel with the EP, you are free to explore local restaurants, shops and excursions that you might otherwise miss out on. Treating your resort as a place of rest and relaxation after a day of exploring is a real treat.
- Price – The price per night is often substantially less than that of the AI. This allows you to feel like you have saved a few dollars that can be spent on more adventurous outings.
- Price – You will be on your own for meals and drinks. If you are on a tight budget and want to know exactly how much you will be spending, this type of plan is not for you.
- Size – If you are looking for a great resort with tons of amenities and activities, this is probably not a good fit. The EP’s do not often offer the multitude of restaurants, bars and activities of most AI’s.
When asked about my preference by clients, I try to steer them not to my preferences but to what it is they are looking for in a vacation. I will say that though I have enjoyed both immensely, I often prefer to book an EP resort because I rarely stay on the resort. I am an adventurer at heart and love to explore the surrounding area. Talking to the locals is an excellent way to find the best food in an area as well as the best places to explore and shop.
I hope this helps you in choosing the right type of resort for your vacation or getaway. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or help you need in choosing.