The dark side of luxury beach resorts

All-inclusive resorts are designed to attract those who want lodging, the beach, entertainment, and dining all in the same place, for one price. It may sound convenient, and sometimes it is. However, even the best all-inclusive resorts have their dark side. So while not every item on this list may apply to every resort, we can almost guarantee that at least one or two items will. So here are 10 cringe-worthy facts that these places really don’t want you to know:

1. Buying a package deal isn’t always cheaper

You may think you’re getting a great deal when your package says it comes with accomodations, meals, and transportation. But oftentimes, resorts charge more for these items than what it would cost to pay for them separately. They know you probably won’t do the math to find out exactly how much each part of the package costs.

So, what you’re really paying for by buying a package deal is convenience. Just to put things in perspective, the standard all-inclusive package at Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic costs $723 per night, while the normal fee is $187. That means you would have to spend at least $536 worth of food, drinks and services for it to really be worth it.

2. You’ll probably be charged for things that should be free

Most hotels located near airports offer transportation for free. If you’re being charged for it by your all-inclusive resort as part of your total fee, that’s not a bargain. They may also include fees for internet use, access to the pool, and even housekeeping. Sometimes those things may not even be included, but they are charged to you at the end of your stay. Surprise!

3. The resort won’t tell you about any issues

Construction at all-inclusive resorts.
Source: Construction UK Magazine

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Don’t expect the resort to let you know that they will be doing renovations and construction work during your stay. Nor will they tell you that some of the activities included in your fee won’t be available. The reason? They don’t want tourists to cancel their reservations, of course. It’s much easier for them to cancel as many amenities as they want. All they have to do to make it legal is add a “subject to availability” disclaimer in the fine print.

So, don’t expect to succeed in getting any sort of refund due to issues that are the resort’s own fault.

4. You won’t be refunded for activities canceled due to weather

If you were staying elsewhere, you would simply not book an excursion or pay for an activity if it started to rain. But at an all-inclusive resort, you’ve most likely already paid for everything up front, and they won’t give you your money back because of inclement weather.

5. They are often targeted by criminals

iStock / sestovic

Criminals love all-inclusive resorts because they’re loaded with tourists who most likely have cash, cameras, and cell phones on hand. Secondly, those who stay at an all-inclusive resort do so because they plan on spending the majority of their time there while on vacation. So thieves (sometimes the staff themselves) can easily follow your routine and know what time you’ll be out, and at what time you’re most likely to leave your possessions unattended.

It’s no secret that drug dealers often do business on resort properties. They hang around populated areas and gain access to tourists at the beach. Sometimes, they even book a room to move among the guests freely. Oftentimes the dealers work with police, getting foreigners to buy drugs, then telling police where they are so they can arrest them. That way, the corrupt police are likely to receive a bribe from the foreigners in order to get out of jail.

6. It’s easy to get scammed

A dark room at an all-inclusive resort.
A dark, musty room at the Silver Sands Beach Resort. (Source: TripAdvisor)

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Those pictures you see in that colorful brochure at the travel agency? Most likely, they are photos of the very best suite in the entire resort. And they certainly aren’t what you’ll get when you pay the “bargain price” that the agency offers you. Remember, you get what you pay for, and poor quality always ends up costing you the most.

Furthermore, telemarketers love to scam travelers into thinking they will get something much better than they actually receive. Beware of vacation packages that sound “too good to be true”- they probably are.

7. Food and alcohol are more likely to be contaminated

In large all-inclusive resorts, it’s much more likely for food and drinks to be produced and served in large quantities. Many Caribbean resorts save money by skimping on quality control and safety. In addition, having large numbers of people cooped up in small spaces, as often happens during shows and dining hours at resorts, creates breeding grounds for viruses. The same problem occurs often in Caribbean cruises.

In addition, contaminated alcohol has been linked to death and sickness for a large number of tourists who visited all inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic between 2010 and the present.

8. No benefits for local communities

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Even if your all-inclusive resort offers you the best room and a host of amenities, here’s one reason why you should still consider booking somewhere else: most resorts don’t benefit local communities in any way. They are usually run by corporations in the US or Europe. So, they may employ locals, but pay them a pittance. In addition, they may actually harm the community by cutting down forests and using resources that the townspeople need.

9. Too much noise and partying

Don’t expect to get a good night’s sleep at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Since they are the top pick for Spring Breakers and families with kids, things can get really noisy at all hours of the day or night.

10. Dirty sheets and bed bugs

Last (but not least!), here’s the most disgusting reason why you should take a hard pass on all-inclusive resort deals- dirty sheets. Chain hotels and resorts are notorious for not changing the sheets in order to save money (or simply because staff are not well-trained or are lazy). Also, bed bugs are a huge problem in Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, thanks to lack of cleanliness and the hot weather.

There’s a better way to stay in the Caribbean- try renting a private house or villa! They are everything that an all-inclusive resort isn’t- quiet, private, and truly luxurious.

Main photo credit: Inside Edition

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