By David Elliott
All-inclusive package holidays are as popular nowadays as when they first started really taking off in the early 1970s. The advantages are obvious, the main one being that holidaymakers know the entire cost in advance and so can budget that much more easily, which is a particularly important consideration in challenging economic times.
But what many people tend to overlook with package holiday deals is that not everything is going to be free from the minute they step into the hotel, with the hotel itself often making the decision on what exactly will be included in the package, rather than the tour operator. Being aware of what all-inclusive holiday packages normally include will enable you to work around the freebies for budgeting purposes and keep the costs down as far as possible.
Food and drink
The price normally covers a full buffet breakfast and snacks through the day as well as lunch and dinner. Ice cream for toddlers and tea in the afternoon are often also included, as are locally produced alcoholic drinks. You would normally expect to pay extra for imported alcohol, although a number of hotels also include a free mini-bar which they stock up on a daily basis. After 11.00pm the free drinks usually come to an end and hotels will charge at nightclub rates.
There are normally a few selected sporting activities like beach volleyball and aerobics which are included in the package price, along with non-motorised water activities, time-restricted pedalos and snorkelling, and tennis is usually free unless you also opt for lessons. Scuba diving often has the first try-out lesson at no charge but subsequent dives will be added to the bill. Live music, nightclubs and shows are also usually included.
When it comes to things like excursions, spa treatments, laundry, hairdressing and internet use you’ll almost always end up having to pay extra on top of the package price. It’s usually worth checking out beforehand whether the tour operator has their tiers packaged to include optional upgrades, as it can work out cheaper paying a small amount extra to have some activities included, rather than going for the basic package and then having to pay extra for them when you get there.
It’s often possible to find the odd package that will cover all the food, drink and a range of activities at an attractively low price, and this is especially true of emerging destinations such as Bulgaria and Tunisia. At a few hotels you can make a choice between basic B&B and then half-board and full-board or al-inclusive. When deciding whether to opt for the all-inclusive deal you need to decide whether you think the freebies justify the higher price, and how much you’ll be taking advantage of them. In some of the more popular resorts of the Turkish Aegean coastline such as Marmaris, for example, the cut-off point for food and drink is so low that it’s worth going for the full package rather than paying for meals separately outside of the resort, where costs can quickly start adding up.
David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.