Honeymoon All-Inclusive: 4 Options for Unlimited Fun
You’ve heard the term all-inclusive, but what does it really mean? Definitions vary, but a true all-inclusive rate is just that: One flat fee covers your room plus all meals, unlimited drinks, entertainment, tips, taxes, airport transfers, and a list of activities (most with instruction and equipment) as long as the train of a wedding dress. Some even include weddings!
What’s not included: airfare, gift shop goodies, departure taxes, and phone calls. (Cruises do not include soda, alcoholic drinks, or tips.) Off-site excursions, rental cars, and spa treatments are usually not included except as part of a package.
All-inclusive rates save you up to 25% off the cost of a vacation! All-inclusive in Mexico and the Dominican Republic tend to be cheaper than other Caribbean locales; resort rates in Asia, Africa, India, and the Pacific are relatively low for comparable services but the airfare may gobble up any savings.
No budget-busting surprise costs or charges.
No foraging in your pocket for a tip every two seconds (you won’t even need a pocket).
You have the opportunity to try sports (or drinks!) you’ve always been curious about for free. Complimentary activities vary by resort and cruise, but some examples include snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing, kayaking, canoeing, volleyball, basketball, rock climbing, tennis, racquetball, squash, and lawn chess (ubiquitous on the islands).
Golf lovers and diving divas can putt and paddle to their heart’s content. Rates that include golf often cover transfers, green fees, and instruction. Club rental, carts, and mandatory caddies are extra. Diving perks include resort certification, tanks, and transportation. Wet-suit rental may be extra. Read the fine print.
The dress code. In warm climes, all you’ll need is a bathing suit and flip-flops. Shedding clothing, bulky bags, purses, and worries is positively uplifting.
Great gift-ability. Thanks to its neat-and-tidy price tag, an all-inclusive trip makes an easy gift.
Tying the knot couldn’t be easier. Weddings are free at some resorts (minimum-night requirements apply); most have wedding packages and on-site wedding planners.
Keep in mind that if all your creature comforts are included in one price and satisfied on site, you will be less likely to venture out and experience unique island cuisine and culture (if you’re on a remote coast, however, an all-inclusive plan will save you lots of time and trouble).
Then there’s the potential boredom: The same restaurants day after day can get old. Look for resorts with room service, oodles of eateries, sister properties nearby (so you might enjoy both facilities), or dine-around programs with nearby resorts.
Last but not least, misanthropes should steer clear. All-inclusive offer secluded corners but encourage interaction.
Here’s a sampling of one-price-buys-all options. Countless individual properties around the world also offer all-inclusive rates. Book through a travel agent, who can secure the same rates you’d be quoted if you booked direct and can often sweeten the deal with free upgrades and airfare discounts.
Skip the seething singles scene and screaming kids: These adult playgrounds include tables for two, dancing and live entertainment nightly, plus king-size beds — for a little love royale — in every room. Ask about honeymoon suites and private plunge pools to rev your libido.
Sandals, which operates 12 resorts in the Caribbean, offers excellent value and distinct property personalities. Rates include everything (meals and drinks, spa, tennis, etc.) *plus* golf and scuba where available. Bonus: A Hurricane Guarantee offers a free replacement vacation if your honeymoon gets blown away. (888) SANDALS
SuperClubs operates resorts in the Bahamas, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Rates include all the creature comforts plus scuba diving, golf, and nude beaches at many locations. (800) GOSUPER
Couples Resorts operates three properties in Jamaica. Rates are all-inclusive with some great added perks including shopping shuttles, sunset catamaran cruises, day trips, spas, and golf. (800) 545-7937
If you’re honeymooning with kids, this is the ticket: Not only do these resorts offer childcare and daily activities for teething tots to teens, but kids often enjoy a discounted rate — if not free entree under a certain age — for the same all-you-can-eat, sleep, and play privileges. Adults-only areas and in-room babysitters (extra charge) mean the happy couple can have their alone time, too.
Club Med is the original all-inclusive resort, started by Olympic water polo champion Gerard Blitz in 1950. Unlike Sandals and SuperClubs, which offer “true” all-inclusive rates in the Caribbean only, Club Med offers more than 100 “villages” worldwide; varied amenities rated on a one- to four-trident “comfort” scale (hut villages to more traditional hotels); and rates that do not include airport transfers, hard liquor (beer and wine are complimentary at lunch and dinner only), or taxes. You must also pay initiation and annual membership fees. Both adult-only and family-friendly options exist, and exotic locations abound. (888) WEBCLUB
Cruises are (by necessity) all-inclusive deals with the added bonus of unique ports of call to investigate along the way. Rates include your cabin, up to eight meals a day, on-board sports (everything from basketball to ice skating and rock climbing), and entertainment (glitzy Las Vegas-style shows and discos). Many rates also include airfare, transfers from the airport to the ship, port charges, and taxes. Sodas, mixed drinks, tipping (except bar bills), and day trips are not included.
Cruising with the kiddies? Not surprisingly, Disney Cruise Line, (800) 939-2784, offers the ultimate in kids’ cruises with all-day programs and separate activity areas for kids, teens, and adults on the ship and on Disney’s own private Castaway Cay island. An alternate option is to spend half your trip at sea and half on land at the non-all-inclusive Disney World Resort. Other cruise lines that offer popular kids’ programs include Carnival, (800) 327-9501, Norwegian Cruise Line, (800) 327-7030, Princess Cruises, (800) 774-6237, and Royal Caribbean, (800) 327-6700. Ask about kids’ — or third and fourth passenger — discounts.
Adventure Tour/Multi-sport Alternatives
For restless romantics born to explore, you can enjoy the worry-free aspects of an all-inclusive — if not the normal price breaks — on a safari, an adventure or multi-sports trip, or at a dude ranch. Most tour operators include all meals, accommodations, sightseeing arrangements, and guides/instructors in their advertised price. Some tours include alcoholic beverages, others allow you to BYOB. Most also include transfers, tax, and equipment (or horses!), while others let you choose between bringing your own gear or renting for a nominal fee. Airfare and tips for the guides are usually not included.
Two Final Notes
Choose your all-inclusive wisely: A long list of complimentary activities means squat if all you want to do is sprawl on the beach. Also, bring some mad money for serendipitous splurges, such as a sunset cruise or Swedish massage (ask about costs before you go so you can plan ahead). You may be on a budget, but it is still your honeymoon. — Lori Seto
HONEYMOONS > Honeymoon Basics
Honeymoon Planning: Best Weather by Wedding Month
Is choosing a honeymoon spot making you dizzy? There are a number of ways to narrow down your choices, depending on whether beautiful weather, cost, or sightseeing is your first priority. Great weather and optimal sightseeing opportunities — as well as high room rates and more crowds (reserve early!) — often go hand in hand during a destination’s high season. (Low season is when seasonal businesses — restaurants and island ferries, for example — shut down and attractions may close for renovations.)
If high season perks are what you seek for your once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon, we’ll tell you where to go to find the best weather or, if you have your heart set on a specific place, what to expect during that month.
Knot Note: A destination’s high — or busy — season usually coincides with an area’s best weather, but it can also determined solely by demand. High season in Hawaii and the Caribbean, where the weather doesn’t change that dramatically, runs from January to April simply because people from colder climes flock to their sunny beaches to flee the winter chill. Conversely, Disney World is packed in the summer despite the searing heat because kids are out of school.
If cost is your first priority, check the “When to Go” section of our destination articles for low season months (best prices) and read our 25 tips to saving money, no matter the season!
WEATHER BY DATE
First, a month-by-month guide to the best weather where and when, excerpted from Lucy Hone’s The Good Honeymoon Guide (Trail Blazer Publications). Get more details about a destination’s year-round weather from a travel guidebook or by calling its tourism board (find phone numbers and/or websites at http://www.towd.com). Just before you go, be sure to check the forecast at a weather website such as weather.com to help you pack.
Knot Note: Remember that this is a guide to when different destinations traditionally experience the most ideal weather of the year. The months immediately preceding and succeeding a destination’s prime time are often called “shoulder” seasons, and usually have good weather as well. Other destinations, such as the Caribbean and Hawaii, are temperate year-round, but particularly incredible at the times listed below.
JANUARY & FEBRUARY
Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Canada (ski destinations), Caribbean, Central & South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Florida Keys, USA (ski destinations)
Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada (ski destinations), Caribbean, Central & South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, the Florida Keys, USA (ski destinations, Southeast, Southwest)
Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Central & South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Italy, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Spain, the Florida Keys, USA
Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Caribbean, Central & South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Seychelles, Spain, Thailand, the Florida Keys, USA
Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Central & South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Spain, Thailand, USA (Alaska, Northeast)
JULY & AUGUST
Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Central & South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Ireland, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Seychelles, Thailand, USA (Alaska, Northeast)
Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Central & South Africa, Czech Republic, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Spain, Thailand, USA
Australia, Bali, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Central & South Africa, Egypt, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Italy, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Seychelles, Spain, USA
Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Canada (ski destinations), Central & South Africa, Egypt, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Seychelles, Spain, USA (ski destinations, Southeast, Southwest)
Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Belize, Brazil, Canada (ski destinations), Caribbean, Central & South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Florida Keys, USA (ski destinations)
WEATHER BY DESTINATION
Frost be damned, you want to go to Paris? We’d be the last ones to stop you! But, we feel morally obligated to remind you, that your dream destination may not be so dreamy in the dead of winter, or heat of summer. Below, some of the most popular honeymoon destinations — some because they enjoy relatively sublime weather year-round — and their not-so-pretty seasons.
Best months: March to July, October and November
Worst months: Far from horrible, December and January are coolest (average afternoon temperature is 75 degrees); August and September are hottest (average 92 degrees). The wettest months are from November to March.
Note: In general, every island’s northern shore gets more rain than the southern, especially on Kauai and the Big Island.
Best months: November to April
Worst months: It is hottest (up to 89 degrees on average) and rainiest from June to October
Best months: May to October
Worst month: January and February
Best months: Technically, December to May, when the area is coolest and enjoys the most wind, but average temperatures year-round hover between 78 and 88 degrees
Worst months: “Official” hurricane season runs from June to November; the worst months are August, September, and October (islands near South America — Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Trinidad, and Tobago — are outside the hurricane danger zone)
Note: High-altitude and coastal spots are cooled by trade winds year-round (a good salve during the hotter and more humid summer months)
Best months: May through September or October
Worst months: December to February
Best months: March, April, October, November
Worst months: May to September
Knot Note:The Florida Keys experience temperate, Caribbean-like weather year-round.
Best months: March, April, October, November
Worst months: June to September
Note: July and August are scorchers here, but at least it’s a “dry” heat (humidity is very low year-round)
Best months: October to May
Worst months: Rainy season runs June through September, but usually only involves a short daily dousing. It is also hotter during the summer months.
Note: Coastal playgrounds and low-lying sections of the country are hotter than higher-altitude destinations such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, and the heartland “Silver Cities.”
SOUTHEAST ASIA (BALI, THAILAND)
Best months: October to February
Worst months: Hottest between March and May; rainy from June to September
SOUTH PACIFIC (FIJI, FRENCH POLYNESIA)
Best months: May to October
Worst months: December to February (hot, humid, and rainy); Tahiti lies well outside the Pacific cyclone zone and while Fiji does not, it is rarely hit during the highest-risk months of January and February