Why All-Inclusives Are So Appealing in the COVID Era

With food and activities all in one place, staying at an all-inclusive resort can limit your exposure to others.
Josh GarberDec 17, 2020

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When you think of all-inclusive resorts, you probably think of unlimited drinks and food, tropical beaches and large pools filled with partiers and families. Travelers often have strong feelings about all-inclusive resorts — some love not having to worry about paying for anything while on vacation, and others prefer to use their hotel room only as a base to explore the sights, bars and restaurants at their destination.

With COVID-19 changing the way many people travel, all-inclusive resorts have become more appealing even to those who generally shun them. Here are some reasons you should consider an all-inclusive resort.

Food and drinks are included

One of the hallmarks of an all-inclusive resort is that food and drinks are generally included in the price of the hotel room, and it’s not uncommon for room service to be included as well.

Because dining out is linked to the spread of COVID-19, cautious travelers may want to avoid restaurants. Though you could stay in a short-term rental or hotel room with a full kitchen, cooking your own meals and doing dishes may not fit with your idea of a vacation.

If you didn’t want to venture away from the resort, you could eat all of your meals at your hotel rather than at nearby restaurants. Options can include outdoor dining, poolside service, grab-and-go choices and room service. But when you’re paying a la carte, those on-site dining prices can add significantly to the cost of your trip. At an all-inclusive resort, the cost of food would already be factored into the price of your trip. You could focus on enjoying your stay rather than on the price your hotel charges for a simple club sandwich.

All-inclusive resorts’ food and drink offerings — including room-service options — differ from property to property, so check with the hotel before booking.

You can limit the number of people you’re near

In normal times, travel is a great way to experience other cultures, including meeting people from around the world. But as COVID-19 can be passed on through even brief interactions with others, trips that let you avoid crowds and mixing with other people become more appealing.

At an all-inclusive resort, you don’t have to leave the property, which will help keep your social interactions to a minimum. This is particularly true in places like Mexico, where hotel capacity, including at all-inclusive resorts, is capped, often at around 30%.

You can’t avoid social interactions entirely and you’re bound to encounter hotel staff and other guests, but at an all-inclusive resort, you can limit your exposure to people not staying or working at your hotel.

You can enjoy lots of outdoor activities

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends prioritizing outdoor instead of indoor activities. Look at all-inclusive resorts with free outdoor activities. For instance, Sandals Ochi in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, includes golf, scuba diving, shuffleboard and kayaking in the cost of your stay.

Though you could participate in activities without staying at an all-inclusive, a hotel that includes these activities limits your contact with people other than hotel guests and staff. It also means that you won’t need to budget for these excursions, since they're usually included in the price of your stay. (However, check with your hotel before booking to make sure the activities don’t come with an added price tag.)

The bottom line

Depending on the resort you pick, all-inclusives can offer many benefits to travelers in the COVID-19 era, including room service, plenty of outdoor activities and limited exposure to people outside of your hotel — all without added cost. If you’re planning to travel any time soon, it’s worth considering an all-inclusive resort for your stay.

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