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Are all-inclusive deals value for money?


Previously a mainstay of long-haul destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean, all-inclusive holidays are now popular for short-haul trips to the likes of Turkey and Spain. So can these deals save you money? 

If you're on a tight budget, booking an all-inclusive deal can seem like a way to save money. Indeed, according to Teletext Holidays we tend to run out of cash five days into a typical seven-day trip.

Forking out for food and drink means a third of us come back with excess baggage, in the form of more than £200 on our credit card.

This has led to an increase in the number of people looking for all-inclusive packages over the past few years.

Does all-inclusive mean no more bills?

Even an all-inclusive deal may not mean unlimited food and drink available 24/7. 

Providers usually offer different levels of packages, ranging from full-board, including local alcohol and soft drinks. Sometimes there's a 24-hour option.

As the name suggests, this means food and drink available round the clock rather than restricted restaurant times.  

Buffet or local cuisine?

Check the range of restaurants before booking. Some resorts may only offer buffet dining rather than table service, or stick with international cuisine. 

Dani Porter, 31, a London-based copywriter, went all-inclusive on a trip to Kenya.

She says: "I found it hard sticking to two or three restaurants for the entire trip, none of which were particularly gourmet or served authentic African food, which was disappointing."  

And if you're vegetarian or have special dietary requirements, ask in advance to ensure you won't have to fork out for special meals or go hungry. 

Who picks up the bar bill?

Drinks can prove a stumbling point. 

With cheaper deals it's usually only the local brew that's included. This means you'll pay more for imported beers, spirits and even cocktails. 

Top-of-the-range packages may include branded drinks, but weigh up whether it's worth forking out the extra, or just footing the bill for a couple of drinks each night at the bar.

Relaxation or adventure?

All-inclusive holidays can mean an "easy break with children" says Judith Cameron, 56, an author from Bristol, who took her four children to Sandals beach resort in Jamaica. 

She adds: "A week's relaxation where you don't have to worry about paying the tab, tipping or booking tables is great." 

But if you prefer adventure you may get itchy feet as the emphasis can be on keeping you in resort. 

Dani adds: "Travelling to Africa for the first time and not seeing much of it was very disappointing, as even with our safari trip we were herded back and forwards from the resort."

Activities can be costly with teenagers who get bored on the beach, but some packages do include watersports. 

Judith adds: "Our eldest learned to scuba drive and the youngest did some basic sailing, so I was able to relax knowing they were having a good time." 

Check which watersports are included as some deals only offer non-motorised options, which means no chance of an hour on a jet ski.

Always check what's included

If you're considering an all-inclusive deal, check exactly what's included in the price and what you want from your holiday. 

If you're happy to stay behind the resort gates it can prove a money saver, but if you want to explore, take day trips or try local restaurants it will cost you more.


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