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The Value of an All-Inclusive Resort
May 6, 2013By: Five Star Alliance

Wes Moss recently asked the question "Is the all-inclusive vacation a good deal?" in the personal finance section of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Five Star Alliance features a number of luxury all-inclusive resorts (you can view our favorite's here) and we get asked that question a lot.

Spring break is over. Mercifully. When there’s no school for the kids, but mom and dad still have to work, it’s no vacation for anyone. All of a sudden, it’s a circus at the house. It’s enough to make you think it will be worth the money to go somewhere.

Exterior of Grand Velas All Suites and Spa Resort All Inclusive HotelI’ve always wondered about the financial wisdom of the all-inclusive trip. Is it really a good deal? So this year I talked to several families that went to an all-inclusive resort with their children for spring break. I found out the real numbers behind (at least one) popular family destination.

I looked specifically at Beaches, a company that offers all-inclusive packages in Turks & Caicos, which is just a quick – and direct! – two-and-a-half-hour flight from Atlanta. A passport is required, and I’m not factoring the cost of a passport into my calculations. You’d need it for this destination whether you were going all-inclusive or pay-as-you-go.

Here’s the math. Minus airfare, here’s what a day in an all-inclusive paradise will cost you, based on a family of four. I’m assuming there are two adults and two kids.

Five nights (Sunday through Thursday) will run you about $3,750. Spring for a sixth night, and you’re looking at about $4,500. Either way, the average cost, including lodging, food and all the incidentals at the all-inclusive resort cost is $750 per day.

Patio of Barcelo Puerto Vallarta All-inclusiveNow, let’s break down what a typical day, per family, costs at a place where you’re paying a la carte. These costs may even be on the low side. Kids have a way of turning parents into human ATMs:

Breakfast buffet: $15 x 4 = $60
Snacks and desserts: $30
In-room waters/soda: $15
Kayaks and windsurfing: $15
Kids' camp in the morning: $60
Kids' camp in the afternoon: $60
Lunch $ 17.50 x 4 = $70
Dinner for the two grown-ups, with drinks: $100
Afternoon drinks, 5 x $10 = $50 (One for each family member, plus an extra)
Other (there's always something else!) and after-dinner drinks: $50
Nightly entertainment/shows for the whole family (fire twirlers, comedy): FREE
Gym workout (For your sanity – not for the kids) FREE
Hotel: $250 (at least) per night
Without the hotel, we're looking at approximately $510 a day in food, drinks and fun. And that doesn’t even count gratuity. That could be another 20 percent on top of $515 per day. If you pay $102 a day in tips, your per day total is $612.

If you add in a hotel room for $250 per night, we're at $862 – certainly higher than the $750 per night at the all-inclusive resort.

And at the all-inclusive place, you've also saved yourself the hassle of paying for every meal, drink, dessert, show and bottled water.

Throw in Xbox games, water slides, a lazy river, ice cream three times a day, another umbrella drink for mom and dad at the pool, souvenirs, sunscreen, aloe for the sunburn and all the other extras, and it looks like all-inclusive is the better deal.

Next spring break, go all in(clusive).

The original article by Wes Moss is posted at The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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