The star rating on resorts can be a bit confusing, at best. Some decidedly 4 star resorts tout themselves as 5 stars. Some 2 stars call themselves “luxury” (but how they can do it with a straight face baffles me).
All-inclusive resorts, as you may know, provide meals, snacks, drinks, and some activities in their stay. Some resorts are fully all-inclusive, while others have the all-inclusive plan as an option. There can be great variation in the inclusive components of a package. For example, Sandals Resorts and Couples Resorts provide some snorkeling, scuba, and even golf as a “given” for all guests. But that’s not a standard, and at the all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, this is usually an additional fee.
But I promised to explain the food program, so here it goes. All-inclusive resorts can save money by providing food en masse, skipping any sort of “made to order” approach. This is the secret to the CHEAP (3 star or less) all-inclusive resorts. Food service is limited to buffets. At the less desirable resorts, the guests’ goal at the lunch buffet is to skim through the shriveled hot dogs, stale nachos, and mystery meat to find enough to fill your tummy. Not appetizing? I agree, and for that reason, I just don’t sell these resorts.
The BETTER resorts ( 3 1/2 star to 4 star) have a combination of buffets and a la carte restaurants. They put more pride in the buffets, and you can actually have great meals dining on buffets alone. While they offer a la carte restaurants, they are cleverly and annoyingly capacity controlled, so you have to line up at a predetermined time to get a reservation at one of these small a la carte venues. It’s reminiscent of a Soviet Union bread line, and definitely a short-coming of these resorts.
The BEST resorts (4 1/2 star to 5 star) understand that cuisine can set them apart, and pride in their dining shows. At these resorts, the focus is more on the specialty/a la carte restaurants, with some buffet restaurants more as a convenience and less as a way to serve the masses. While you may need to wait for a table at prime dining hour, it’s not that long a wait (or there’s another a la carte dining option available). You don’t get a sense that you have to jump through a hoop today for tomorrow’s dinner reservation.
~Cindy Grant, ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200