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A First Timer's Guide To All Inclusive Holidays Abroad

If you, like me, are one of what feels like the few people in the world who have yet to experience an all inclusive holiday and therefore have no idea what to expect, you've come to the right place! From wristbands to tipping, we've rounded up answers to all the questions you may have to ease your worries and help you prepare for the holiday of a lifetime.

What is included on an all inclusive board basis?

This board basis covers three meals a day, soft drinks and local alcoholic drinks as standard, but depending on the hotel, but can also include snacks, activities, entertainment and the use of gym or spa facilities. Guests can take advantage of these perks up until midnight, unless they have booked a stay which offers 24-hour service. Be sure to double check what your package includes so that you don't get any surprises during your holiday.

Will I need to wear a wristband?

Most all inclusive hotels require guests to wear coloured wristbands so that the staff can recognise your board basis and give you access to the free meals and drink available within your package, but others pride themselves on being wristband-free.

Providing you do have a wristband and know your room number, you won’t need any cash while you're in the hotel, as these will be linked to your card and cover any charges or fees you incur.

What happens if I lose it?

While some places will issue a new one for free, other resorts will charge you for losing or damaging wristbands.

When are mealtimes?

Mealtimes for breakfast, lunch and dinner vary by hotel, but there will usually be an information board to display these or you can ask a member of staff. Eating outside these times could incur a charge so be sure you know the hours.

Do I need to make a restaurant reservation?

If you want to treat yourself to a meal that's not from the buffet, you can reserve a table in the à la carte or higher-end restaurants. These get booked up quickly so make reservations, and make them early, to avoid missing out.

What if I miss a meal?

Not every all inclusive hotel offers room service, nor is this always free of charge, but it's worth asking just in case you do accidentally miss a mealtime and really can't wait for the next. For drinks, the minibar in your room is usually included with your package and refilled daily.

Will I have to queue up for food and drink?

If you have a reservation, you can be seated straight away, but you may have to queue otherwise. It's a good idea to bear this in mind and consider tweaking your mealtimes to ensure your wait is minimal.

Will they cater to my dietary requirements?

Whatever your dietary requirements, the menu's at all-inclusive resorts will usually have something to suit you. Be sure to give the staff or chef a heads up if you have an allergy or any specific requirements as they may need to make food separately or order something in especially.

I'm a fussy eater, will I be okay?

Even the pickiest of eaters will have plenty of choice in an all inclusive restaurant, but if nothing takes your fancy, don’t be nervous to ask for a variation of a dish. As all food is included, you may even be tempted to try something new!

Is there a dress code for eating in the hotel restaurants?

A lot of all inclusive resorts require certain attire to be worn at dinner. For ladies, beachy dresses usually suffice. Men may need full-length pants, a button up shirt, and closed-toe shoes.

What's the etiquette on whether, when and how much to tip?

Even though it’s an all inclusive resort, most don’t include your tips. Although tipping policies vary by resort, and is a discretionary and optional gesture, it's usually encouraged tip staff throughout your stay. This lets staff know that you appreciate their efforts and can also improve the level of attention you receive during your holiday. Watch out for automatic service charges and if you're not sure, feel free to ask or observe other guests.

Will I need to bring a beach towel?

You'll be glad to know, you won't need to squeeze a beach towel into your suitcase if you're going on an all inclusive holiday. Instead, you'll be able to use the towels available at the resort and return them when you're done. Sometimes you'll need a towel card, but this depends on the hotel.

Have you been all inclusive? Tweet @icelollyholiday and let us know if you have any tips or tricks for first timers!

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