CHASING THE MAP

All-Inclusive Tips From a First-Timer

So an all-inclusive resort is on your radar. Maybe you’ve already been to one, or you’re embarking on your first adventure.

I recently traveled to my first all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I had never seriously considered an AI as an option while traveling. I’ve been to many places and I’ve always either stayed in hotels or rented houses or condominiums. I liked the freedom of feeling unconfined, and was worried that an all-inclusive might hinder my ability to really get a feel for the land, the food, and its people.

Turns out, an all-inclusive property was exactly what I needed and unknowingly looking for on this particular trip.

However, once the decision was made, I soon discovered that researching AI’s was rather elusive. 

Online information proved sketchy at best. The website’s for the AI’s were extremely basic, and left me with many questions. I found that I was relying heavily on online resources such as Trip Advisor rather than the site for the all-inclusive, where just simple information was provided.

Having now traveled to an AI, here are 5 things I’d do differently the next time.

When you check in, ask exactly where your room is located.

Sure, they tell you the building, and that it’s located right next to the pool with the swim up bar. Cool! That sounds pretty sweet. When I booked the trip through Cheap Caribbean, the person who assisted me put in a request to put me in a room on a higher level. I was looking forward to a balcony and a view, maybe even an ocean view. I upgraded to VIP status, which I thought would count for something. Turns out, I was right by that pool with the happening swim up bar. Only thing is, I was on the opposite side, on the ground floor. That kinda sucked. My view turned out to be a grassy expanse facing another building of rooms.

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Could I have requested to be moved to another room, one which more suited my tastes? I probably should have asked. Fortunately, I didn’t really spend that much time in my room anyway, so I didn’t let it bother me all too much.

Speaking of VIP……

Find out what benefits come with that seemingly entitled status. I stayed at the Caribe Club Princess resort in Punta Cana, and paid the extra $15 for this “upgraded” status. Yes, a minimal fee, but a fee nonetheless. My room was a bit larger than the standard room, so let’s call that an upgrade. But it was ground floor, and no ocean view. Not such a great perk. There was a bottle of rum in my room awaiting my arrival, but the welcome fruit basket was MIA. I missed the info on the free 20 minute massage, the memo on the top shelf liquor, and the fact that I could visit two of the a la carte restaurants for free. Sigh.

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Now I know….bring your own Bubba Mug!!

Seriously people. Do it. Just do it. What is a Bubba Mug, you ask? It’s essentially a well-insulated travel mug that will keep your beer and mixed/frozen drinks cold. When you’re in a very warm climate, such as Punta Cana, it takes about 3.7 seconds for your refreshing beverage to become what’s affectionately referred to as “piss warm.” This in turn causes you to feel the need to drink said beverage in the given plastic cup very quickly. It turns into a vicious cycle where you are consuming more alcohol faster than you normally would.bubba_brands_bubba_keg_20_oz_mug_navy_casku523-navy-1__39752.1406152480.1280.1280MARK YOUR TERRITORY!!

I’m not saying to go outside, find a tree, and do what dogs do.

This does mean, however, going out at midnight, after the beach area has been cleaned by the staff, and putting down a ratty towel that you’ve brought from home onto the most desirable spot that hasn’t already been claimed by others stalking the beach even earlier than you did. I didn’t know this the first night that I was there, and ended up not being able to find one of those beautifully shaded thatched open air huts that protect you from bursting into flames once you’ve been out in the blazing sun for too long.

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ASK about the Wi-Fi.

I knew from the get go that “free” wi-fi was available in the lobby area only. And by free, and available, I mean erratic at best. I made sure that before I left for the DR, I had my international calling plan for my Iphone properly set up with Verizon. What I didn’t know was that for a minimal fee, I could get a wi-fi modem in my room on a daily basis, thereby eliminating the need to make the trek to the lobby to send texts and e-mail to all of my envious friends and family at home.

An all-inclusive can really be the way to travel, but KNOW before you GO. Take advantage of all that is offered to you in your package, and don’t be afraid to ask questions when checking in. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the quick explanations provided to you, or language or accent barriers. You’re spending your hard-earned money, and deserve the best and most stress free vacation possible!

 

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