That little something ‘extra’. A musing on the all-inclusive resort experience

Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas – they’re all filled with Canadians more than happy to strip down and bare their sock lines and white legs, every winter. And (sometimes) I’m one of them.

I’m good with all styles of accommodations – I’ve spent many a night in everything from a sleeping bag with a mozzy net on the ground to a King-sized bed in a boutique hotel. When my husband and I are planning a get-away, we look to create an adventure and fill our time experiencing as much as we can, including sitting and just soaking up the atmosphere of a place. But when we’re looking for a get-away with our children, with a group of friends or to attend a destination wedding, we’re all about the all-inclusive resort. THIS is where vacationing and travelling part ways and head in opposite directions.

I’ll leave the ‘travel’ musings for another post. I’ve just returned from an all-inclusive resort vacation so its quirks are still fresh in my mind. Here are my musings on those ‘little somethings extra’ that are all part of the all-inclusive ‘experience’.

The Wild-Life

No, I don’t mean the drunk people at the swim-up pool bar. I’m talking about the ecclectic assortment of animals that seem to roam the grounds of many resorts. The resort I was at last week almost doubled as a zoo. It had no fewer than 5 flamingos hanging out on the mini beach near the lobby bar, 1 wandering kitten, 4 peacocks, a koi pond, a small monkey, a parrot and a large iguana. The monkey was ushered around every other morning for photo ops on top of children’s heads and one honeymooning couple seemed to be particularly fond of feeding the fish in the koi pond each afternoon.

I’m just glad I wasn’t staying in one of the ground floor units in building #7 – the peacocks paraded themselves in front of those units every day, at dawn, SCREECHING to one another. I had no idea they were such loud birds!??

The Biggy Sized Pool

True, you may be able to get a private infinity pool and a stunning view with a private rental accommodation but if a ginormous, winding pool with semi-submersed lounge decks, pillars, waterfalls, hot tubs, a swim-up bar and a maze of bridges is what you’re after, you need to get yourself to an all-inclusive resort. The pool area seems to be a coveted area among resort-attendees actually. It’s a hub of activity. Just don’t pay too close attention to how many drinks people are consuming, how often they hop into the pool and how many times they visit the ACTUAL washrooms.

The pools are pretty amazing actually. You can have a water polo match, volleyball game, cannon-ball competition, groups-of-people-standing-around-with-two-drinks-in-hand AND an aerobic class ALL going on at the same time. And they do. In fact, I even took part in a kayaking competition in the last pool I visited. Which leads to me the next little something ‘extra’.


“BINGO! Bingo, bingo, bingo everybody. Who wants to play bingo”? People do. I was shocked too. Joking aside, this is actually the great part about resorts. My daughters LOVE participating in the games that are organized (swimming competitions, soccer, water games, etc.) and getting to go on stage each night to collect their certificates is usually a trip highlight for them. My husband always jumps in on a couple of beach volleyball games each day and I personally find it very entertaining watching other people arm wrestle and compete in odd water-inspired obstacle course races while chugging beer. The pool bar alone provides lots of entertainment for my 6-year-old. She sports a pink moustache from the virgin strawberry daiquiris they hand her several times a day.

The night-time entertainment in the restaurants and on stage are also appreciated by most (unless your room is next door to the stage). And then there’s the wonder that is …”the mini disco“. You have to see one of these in action to really appreciate them.

Add on a resident casino, tennis courts, spa, gym, numerous bars options, nightly markets and anyone would be hard pressed to get bored.

Towel Art

No explanation necessary here. Some are a little creepy, like this grumpy doll, but for the most part they’re a fun welcome item each day when you re-enter your room, post housekeeping.

Of course, its not all fun and games. At check-in your towel is handed over with the expectation that you will guard it with your life for the duration of your stay. Lose it and you have to pay up. This stresses me out. I’m not sure why? I’m good for the $10 it costs to replace it and yet I find myself acutely aware of where my towel is at all times when on a resort (I’m a rule follower). The towel stress is exacerbated when I have to leave my towel unattended every morning at dawn in order to claim one of those coveted loungers under a palapa on the beach. Wander down there AFTER sunrise and you have zero chance of finding anything to plunk yourself down on.

All in, I’d say the all-inclusive is a great option for those vacations where you want to really let loose, hang out and not have to organize or be responsible for ANYTHING – except your towel. Bring on the buffet!

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