On our recent trip to Jamaica, my new fiancé and I stayed at two very different all inclusive resorts. After a week and a half of traveling to visit family and friends, and trying to cram as much New England in as we could, we took a few days to relax at the adults only /couples only Sandals Montego Bay.(As a side note, I don’t know how so many people get married here as non couples aren’t allowed as guests, sorry single friends) We then traveled to the more family friendly Riu Ocho Rios where everyone was staying for my friend’s wedding.
This was the first time either of us had stayed at an all inclusive resort, and it was definitely an interesting experience. All inclusive can have different meanings, at sandals everything besides spa treatments and offsite tours was included. This meant pretty much any brand of liquor, a bunch of specialty restaurants, room service, snorkel trips, and tons of entertainment. At Riu, the only included food option was buffet, you had to pay extra for specialty options. Still, the buffet was huge and varied so there were always options. They also had entertainment, but of a different nature since it was not adults only.
Tips were not expected at either location as they are included in the price, and not allowed at sandals, unless you had a butler. I did find people tipping bartenders and occasionally other staff (always in USD) at Riu though.
I really enjoyed the relaxing aspect of the vacation. You really don’t need to plan anything, it’s all taken care of for you. All you have to do is apply lots of sunscreen and wander to the beach. The staff has a lot going on to entertain guests (I found it similar to a cruise director style of entertainment) and if you do want to go on an excursion, they make it extremely easy to book.
On these resorts you are very insulated from the culture and everyday life of residents. Since our trips usually consist of as much sightseeing and culture soaking up as possible, this was a nice change, but I did feel a bit guilty for not even trying. We did make it off site to visit Dunns River Falls and for a snorkeling/booze cruise, as well as the wedding, but the rest of the week was mostly spent lazing by the beach with a Mai tai in my hand. And I’m ok with that.
I would definitely do this again, especially now that I know what to expect. It’s definitely relaxing and a total stress reliever.