All-Inclusive Resort: My Experience

We just recently returned from our fun vacation to the Dominican Republic. We stayed at the Sunscape Casa del Mar La Romana, an “all-inclusive” resort, and celebrated our second anniversary.

(Our feet…on vacation)

This was our first time trying the “all-inclusive” (meaning drinks, dining, and activities included) type of resort. We’ve avoided them mainly because (1) we haven’t been to that many resorts; and (2) when we do go to a resort, it’s usually to a place that has a surrounding city, where food and activities are more available. We like to venture out most of the time and take our chances in the “free market”, so to speak.

The Resort and All-Inclusive Features

The resort grounds and connecting beach (as seen in the photo above) were beautiful and well maintained. The Dominican Republic has lots of natural beauty, including some of the blue-est water you’ll see.  Also the pools were large, cool, and clean.

Rooms– We decided to upgrade from the basic room to one with a bed spread “without all the crazy carribean prints”, as Mrs. PT likes to call them.  The room had a great A/C and nice tall ceilings (top floor).  The mini fridge was filled everyday with bottled water (crucial) and cokes of all kinds (part of the all-inclusive…very nice).  All the other basics were there: tv, safe, iron, hair dryer.  Overall I’d say the room felt very basic.  Slightly dingy walls though, and the tile floor didn’t help the slightly dirty feel.  Nothing special or particularly awful about it though.  We decided that wasn’t why we were there anyway.  Although it did rain quite a bit so we were in the room more than we wanted.  Grade: B

Food– The food was by far the least awesome part of the trip.  The resort had one main buffet with cafeteria-style food, at best (Mrs. PT said she’d rather be at Luby’s).  As for the other restaurants:  They were primarily open at night and either none or 1 at a time (our anniversary night we were forced to eat at the buffet).  While some of the restaurants had some decent options, overall the food just left us unsatisfied.  Lots of wasted calories.  Oh, and some people reported stomach problems caused by the food, if you know what I mean. Grade: D

Drinks– We’re not big drinkers, but we did partake in the occasional drink.  Like most all-inclusive resorts, the beers and wines are limited to local options (Presidente for beer…not bad), and the focus is on the mixed fruity drinks.  I thought they were great.  Most of the bars had name-brand liquors.  Oh, and no wristbands either like other resorts require.  Grade: A-

Activities– They had several free options to choose from and we tried to make the most of them.  We took the catamaran (sail boat) out a couple of times and briefly tried the kayak and snorkeling.  We felt we made up a lot of the money we lost on food quality by getting to do the activities for free.  Grade: A

Service – There were several excellent staff members and at times we were treated great.  However, the service people overall acted like they were tired and we were bothering them.  Lots of exasperation in their faces when you asked for a drink, or when making a request for something extra.  We had been told by the travel agent that the service was annoying because of how attentive they were. We found the opposite to be true.  I got the feeling that we needed to speak more Spanish and hand out more dollars to get quality service.  Grade: C-

Is All-Inclusive a Better Value?

In my opinion, this is really how the “all-inclusive” resort should be judged monetarily speaking. Not “was it cheap?” or “less expensive?” because most of them, I suspect, would fit that description. But was this particular resort a better value than paying “A la carte”?  I’d have to say no.

If you break down the cost of the trip, factoring in the average price of airfare to the island along with 5 nights hotel there, we basically got the food and activities for free.  Which is good because that’s about what the food was worth.  🙂  The food was so bad overall, and the selections so limited that it rendered the whole “all-inclusive” experience useless. Put another way, had there been other restaurants near the resort, we would have gone and paid extra for a meal there.

Did we manage to have fun despite that?  Sure we did.  It has to be a pretty sad situation to keep Mrs. PT and I from having a good time and laughing it up.  Like I said above, the place was beautiful and we were able to really unwind.

Edit note: I forgot to mention that even though our experience was bad with the food, I’m sure there are excellent all-inclusives out there with awesome food.  We simply didn’t research this one thoroughly.

Related Articles: Zen Personal Finance’s All-Inclusive Review

Have you done an all-inclusive resort before?  What was your experience like?  Do you think they are a good value?

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. Sivan Segev says

    Thanks for the review of the resort. Will definitely not choose to pay for an all inclusive with horrid meals. When you checked the reviews before you bought the vacation – did you find similar reviews?

  2. @FFB – We honeymooned in Aruba. Loved it. You’re right…we could get around there easily and explore the different places to eat. In the DR we were restricted to this one place. My rule in the future will be to make sure the food quality is up to par if we’re “stuck.”

    @Sivan – We *normally* do thorough research on a place prior to taking off. is the best. However, for this trip we just jumped right in. While we were booking we noticed it was #2 on TA. We thought, hey, let’s go for it. After delving into some of the reviews we did notice the food comments, but thought that with options we’d find what we wanted. The thing was that the options weren’t available all the time. Very limited.

  3. I think it depends on where you go too. We took an all-inclusive in Jamaica. The people were great but from what I understand it’s not a place you want to wander around at night (off resort). In a case like this all-inclusive automatically becomes the best option. You just have to figure out which all-inclusive is best.

    On the other hand…we’ve been to Aruba a couple of times and some hotels their offer all-inclusive. Can’t see how being stuck in one resort there could be the best deal for Aruba. So easy to get around and so many choices for food and such. I don’t think I would ever get an all-inclusive there.