The weather is getting colder, the first snow has fallen, and you’re ready to escape to warmer temperatures, softer sands, and take a break.
Whether this is your first all-inclusive vacation or you’re a repeat visitor to one of the Caribbean islands, there are so many resorts to choose from it can be overwhelming when vacation planning. How can you make sure you’re spending your hard earned vacation days at the resort that’s best for you and your vacation needs? How do you know that your kids will enjoy their family vacation and have the best family getaway you can give them? We have some tips for how to choose the right resort for your next all-inclusive vacation:
1. Decide on a destination
Having an idea in mind of where you’d like to go narrows down your resort options a lot. With large differences between Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica and Mexico, having an idea of where you’d like to visit will make it easier to make sure you choose the right resort. If you’re not picky on where you’d like to spend your vacation in the sun, you might at least have an idea of where you don’t want to go: maybe you’ve visited Cuba before and don’t want to go back, or you know that the high popularity of Cancun doesn’t interest you. Knowing a vacation idea can help your travel agent suggest options that might fit your travel preferences, but will also help if you’re planning on booking online with trip matchmaker, where you can select or de-select destinations you’re interested in to narrow down results to get the best vacation ideas for you.
2. Decide whether you’ll spend more time at the beach or pool
Are you a beach bum, or would you rather laze by the pool? Knowing where you’ll spend more time is an important step in making sure you choose the right resort. If you’re a beach bum, you’re likely going to want to visit a resort – and a destination – known for its sandy beaches, where you can spend your mornings walking the shoreline, like the Grand Palladium Punta Cana and neighbouring resorts along Punta Cana’s famous Bavaro Beach. Pool lovers will be more comfortable at a resort with several pool options, and might be okay visiting a resort that has a smaller beach, where those romantic walks on the beach aren’t quite so luxurious. Some resorts aren’t beachfront, but rather a short walk or shuttle ride from the beach, while some destinations feature adults-only pools and family-friendly pools, giving you more options for what you prefer.
3. Are you really hoping to scuba dive, or learn about history?
Knowing what you’re hoping to do will help you choose the best resort for your vacation: if scuba diving or snorkeling with the fish is at the top of your list, you’re more likely to want to consider all-inclusive vacations in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Honduras, or other destinations known for their diving. While popular destinations like Punta Cana do offer some scuba diving excursions, the quality of the diving won’t be anywhere near that in a destination known for its underwater life. Decide what activities you’re hoping to do beyond relaxing beach time to help narrow down destinations and to find the perfect all-inclusive vacation: if you’re hoping to learn about the culture and history of a destination, you might want to opt for a vacation closer to a city centre like Havana or Montego Bay, rather than an isolated beach town. Even within a destination, research the activities, excursions, and other options available to narrow down a resort or which end of the beach strip you should settle for, if these types of activities are important to you.
4. Know what kind of traveller you are
Resorts range from adults-only to family-focused, to the average resort offering kids programs, but also adults-focused activities, bars, and nightclubs. Decide what type of traveller you are before booking: if you’re not interested in waiting for families taking part in the on-site watersports, or don’t want to hear an overtired child at dinner, you might want to opt for an adults-only resort. Each resort has different amenities and programs, and it’s important these fit your lifestyle: you might not want to go to an ultra-romantic couples-only resort if you’ve just started dating, or with the girls. If you’re adventurous and want to get the adrenaline pumping, you’ll want your travel agent to research whether your preferred resort is host to an array of excursions and extra activities. Knowing what type of traveller you are will not only help find the resort perfect for you, but will help you better enjoy your vacation, if you know what type of lifestyle to expect, and what type of lifestyle you enjoy. For the best family getaway, look for resorts that offer incentives for children like eating and staying free, as well.
5. Consider the size of the resort
This is an important question when juggling your vacation ideas, not only when determining what you can handle physically, but also what you’re comfortable with. If you’re looking for a quieter, more intimate vacation with your partner, or with friends, a resort like the Hard Rock Punta Cana isn’t the best pick. Choose a resort with fewer guest rooms (the Hard Rock has 1,800+), and you’ll be happier with your choice. Resort size and location also affects how you want to spend your time: if you’re not up for walking more than a few minutes to breakfast, the beach, or anywhere in between, a larger resort might not be the best option for you. Considering the size of the resort you’re looking to visit is also an important option for family vacations, especially with young children, who might be tired out by walking, or for parents that want to keep a closer rein on their kids. (Don’t forget that you can select a small resort as a preference in trip matchmaker!)
6. Loosen the reins on the food options
Unless you’re a real foodie, you’re going to need to lower your expectations on food when visiting an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Though some resorts focus on gourmet food, like Karisma, Palace Resorts, and Sandals, other resorts might not have dishes up to par. Destinations like Cuba are known for average food, but keep in mind that all-inclusive resorts are often overflowing with fresh, tropical fruit like coconut, pineapple, mango, and more! Most travellers won’t have any problems with food at 4.5- and 5-star resorts, where buffets change daily and a la carte meals offer delicious options. Those with particular needs, allergies, or picky eaters, might want to pick a higher-end hotel in a higher-end destination to ensure food quality and options.
7. What did you like about your last vacation?
One of the best ways to decide what you love in a vacation and what will make the right resort for your vacation is to think back to your last trip: what did you love? What didn’t you like? Knowing what you enjoyed about your last vacation, whether it was all-inclusive or not, will help determine what you might be looking for for that upcoming trip. Think back to the food you enjoyed, the importance of location, and the feel of your vacation to help assist your travel agent in suggesting a resort lifestyle and destination that might work for you.
8. Know if you might be back
Are you the type of person that finds something they like and sticks with it, or are you always wanting to try something new? If you think you might settle on a resort you love and visit year in and year out, consider looking at resorts with rewards when considering your vacation ideas. Some resorts, like Couples Resorts, have rewards systems and the more visits you make, the more add-on perks you receive. Who can go wrong when a welcome bottle of wine in your room is on the line?
9. Talk to your travel agent
Speaking with a travel agent is the best way to ensure you find a resort that is best for your travel needs and to find vacation ideas suited to you and what you like. Our travel agents have actually been to the destinations you’re thinking of visiting, and will perform a needs-analysis to narrow down options for the right resort for you. Visit a destination page on our website to see a list of travel agents who have been to that country, or particular hotel, to get personalized tips and vacation ideas.
For more help on how to choose the right resort, try trip matchmaker or call a travel agent for personalized tips and suggestions.