At Clock Out Check In we think that all-inclusive hotels unfairly have a bad reputation (see our article on whether package holidays are worth it). One of the biggest issues that travellers have is that the food at all-inclusive resorts is terrible. Now, if you have read our previous posts, you will know that we are massive foodies. But we have also thoroughly enjoyed our previous all-inclusive holidays. How does this work?
Well I guess the most obvious answer to this question is that there are such a wide range of all-inclusive hotels and not all of them are created equal. I am sure that there are some absolutely terrible all-inclusive hotels out there serving bland, unimaginative food. Luckily for us we have never stayed in one of those hotels. But is it just down to luck? Well no, actually. We are very selective with the hotels that we choose to stay in and have a few things that we look for in a resort to ensure that we can fully enjoy the foodie all-inclusive experience.
The first, and most important, thing that we check is that the resort offers at least two a la carte restaurants. If you look online you will find that most all-inclusive hotels offer a buffet restaurant and maybe one a la carte restaurant. This really isn’t enough for us for a week-long holiday. We know that we would get fed up very quickly with a buffet every night. The buffet menu is usually on rotation and there are limited vegetarian options for Vicky. Plus, as you all know, buffet food tends to be plentiful but rarely of the best quality.
Similarly, having just one a la carte restaurant is not enough either. If you are at the resort for a week, you will quickly get bored of eating in the same restaurant. At the two all-inclusive resorts we have stayed in there were at least six restaurants for us to choose from every night. This meant that we could eat at a different restaurant every night and only return to our favourites.
Find out more about our stay at the all-inclusive TUI Sensatori Punta Cana.
Secondly, it is vital to check the terms and conditions of the all-inclusive offer at the resort. For example, we have seen some hotels that restrict the number of times you can eat at the a la carte restaurants or have excluded these from the all-inclusive offer entirely. This means you will end up paying more if you want to eat there. Similarly, some hotels don’t include drinks after a certain time or exclude premium branded drinks from their all-inclusive offer. We prefer hotels with as few restrictions as possible. At both of the resorts we stayed at you could eat at any of the restaurants and everything was included even room service and the mini bar.
RESEARCH IS KEY
The final thing we check is TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is a great way to find out what your fellow travellers think about the resort. A word of caution though – take all TripAdvisor reviews with a pinch of salt. Some of the most positive reviews might not be genuine and some of the most negative reviews might be over-exaggerated. The best thing to do is look for the longer reviews and see what people are saying about the food. Don’t be put off by one terrible review either. Instead we recommend that you read a selection of good and bad reviews and get a general feel for the hotel. You will see that some things about the hotel will crop up repeatedly and they are generally accurate.
We thoroughly enjoyed the food at both of the all-inclusive hotels that we have stayed in. Both hotels were operated by Karisma who offer a Gourmet All-Inclusive package. This means that all of the restaurants on site are included. We had at least 6 restaurants to choose from, mostly a la carte and offering a wide range of different cuisines. There was also a fine dining restaurant at each hotel which you could dine at once during your stay and offered a tasting menu. Room service and the mini bar were free of charge and there were coffee shops and beachside BBQs as well. How could any foodie not enjoy all that?
Have you stayed in an all-inclusive hotel? What was the food like? Let us know in the comments below.
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