If you're a timeshare owner who belongs to RCI, you've probably looked through their listings of Extra Vacations. This is one of the best parts of RCI membership, and it's how we managed to take five weeks of ski vacations this year for an unbelievably low price. There are some real bargains here!
One thing to watch out for, however, is the all-inclusive resorts. The fabulous deal you see at first glance could turn out to be dramatically different once you factor in all the fees.This luxurious resort in Mexico may not be as cheap as you think
How the system works
Say you're browsing the vacation listings on RCI. You're looking for something over the New Year's holiday, and astonishingly, this luxurious looking resort (pictured above) appears for a bargain price.Wow! This resort is a bargain - even over the holidays!
Looking through the available units, you find that Dec 28 to Jan 4 is available. Best of all, you can get this peak holiday week for just $243! How can that be?
What it's really going to cost
The catch is that you're really not going to get anything for $243. Read the fine print, and you'll find that this resort has a mandatory all-inclusive fee (here called an "Unlimited Luxury Program") that varies from $60 to $160 - per person, per night.
For the holiday week you're looking at, the all-inclusive fee is $150/pp/night. That means an extra $300 per day for a couple, or an added cost of $2100 for the week. Instead of $243 for a week, you'd pay $2,343! The price goes up almost 10-fold once you calculate it with the all-inclusive fees.Read the fine print to find the all-inclusive fees - very important!
There a couple of things about this that seem a bit deceptive:
- The advertised price shown in big numbers on the main screen is super low, while the bulk of the total cost is hidden away in the fine print.
- Do you think people really eat and drink $100 more each day in one season than another? Of course not. It's just a way for them to price the units more expensively during high season, while still showing a bargain price on the availability listing.
Look into the details
Different resorts cover different things in their all-inclusive plans. It's pretty much standard to include all of your meals and beverages (including alcoholic drinks), but beyond that you need to check on the particulars.
- Some places have gourmet food, while others offer more casual dining.
- Some places cover activities such as windsurfing or kayaking.
- Some places include tours and sightseeing in the fee.
- Some places provide airport transfers, included in the cost.
As you can see, the list varies, so it makes sense to know what you'd get for your money.
Looking into this particular resort, it turns out that they have 8 dining options, ranging from elegant seafood to a poolside grill. There are 4 bars, and activities such as bicycle rides, bocce ball, water slides, and a climbing wall.
All of the above is included, but at this resort, you'd have to pay extra for wi-fi in your room, airport transportation, sightseeing excursions, or spa treatments.
Pros and cons of all-inclusive resorts
Some people love all-inclusive vacations, and find the cost worthwhile for the ease, convenience, and services they get. For other people, it doesn't make as much sense.
All-inclusive resorts may be a good choice if...
- You plan to spend most or all of your time at the resort.
- You like the convenience of not paying every day, or worrying about the cost of each meal or drink.
- You want a fixed price vacation (and don't plan optional extras like tours or massages).
- You envision eating enough gourmet meals and/or drinking enough cocktails to get your money's worth.
On the other hand, all-inclusive vacations aren't the best choice if...
- You're traveling by yourself. (You'll usually see that all-inclusive fees are charged for a minimum of 2 adults per room.)
- You're not a big eater and/or drinker. (It's probably cheaper to pay a la carte in this case.)
- You want to spend a lot of time away from the resort. (You'd end up paying for meals elsewhere, too.)
- You prefer to check out local restaurants rather than always eating at the resort.
You may decide that an all-inclusive timeshare resort is ideal for you. Many people do enjoy fabulous, relaxing vacations this way. Just make sure you know what you're getting into, and don't be fooled by the low display prices.