By Catesby HolmesDarrell HartmanAlexander BasekSherri EisenbergKathryn O'Shea-EvansLisa ChengErin FlorioSarah Storms and Jennifer Coogan
July 22, 2013

It’s an old travel adage that all-inclusive packages are a great way to save money on vacation. But are they really worth the premium? T+L ran the numbers at several resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean and found that the all-inclusive option can offer significant savings (in one case, below, as much as 49 percent)—but only if you plan on taking advantage of all of the elements, which sometimes involves a copious amount of eating and drinking on site. Our advice: Read the fine print to know exactly what you’re getting and assess your daily needs carefully. Do you plan on consuming a three-course lunch and three bottles of wine each day? Depending on your answer, the longer you stay, the less you may get in return.

Gran Meliá Cancún

Standard double room: $170
Breakfast: $40
Three-course lunch with alcohol: $66
Three-course dinner with alcohol: $94
Afternoon cocktails for two: $23
Greens fees at golf course: $30
Three mini-bar items: $30
Wi-Fi: $17

Total, à la carte: $470*
Total, all-inclusive: $240*
All-inclusive savings: $230, or 49%

Sivory Punta Cana

Double room: $350
Breakfast: $36
Three-course lunch: $76
Two bottles of wine: $44
Three-course dinner: $100
In-room wine cooler with a bottle of wine: $28
Mini-bar restocking (water, soda, and beer): $100
Light pressing of four articles of clothing: $55
Beach bag (one per stay): $25

Total, à la carte: $814
Total, all-inclusive: $650
All-inclusive savings: $164, or 20%

The Westin, Aruba

Island-view double room: $230
Breakfast: $45
Lunch: $80
Dinner: $180
Drinks all day (assumes four drinks per day per person): $80
Nonmotorized water sports rental: $10

Total, à la carte: $625
Total, all-inclusive: $410
All-inclusive savings: $215, or 34%

* Prices are based on a one-night, double-occupancy stay.

  • By Catesby Holmes
  • By Darrell Hartman
  • By Alexander Basek
  • By Sherri Eisenberg
  • By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans
  • By Lisa Cheng
  • By Erin Florio
  • By Sarah Storms
  • By Jennifer Coogan