Although the lure of endless cocktails and multiple trips to the lunch buffet may seem tempting, opting for all-inclusive is rarely as cheap as travellers presume as extra spending hits a record eight-year high.
The research, conducted by Post office Travel Money in its annual All Inclusive Report, reveals three-in-ten holidaymakers planning trips abroad this year will be heading off on all inclusive packages.
Commonly, travellers believe all-inclusive board will cut the costs of childrens’ meals and drinks and that the deal is good value as they won’t need to take holiday spending money.
However, most of the two-in-five families who went all-inclusive on their last trip ended up spending an average of around £431 extra in their hotel and in the local resort, adding between 14 and 21 per cent more to the overall cost.
“This year’s report found that the numbers splashing out on extras has risen for the eighth year running,” said Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, “and while this may reflect a growing acceptance that all inclusive has its limits, the extra costs continue to catch people out.
“One-in-ten of the holidaymakers we spoke to expressed surprise at the prices they were charged for extras in their all inclusive hotel.”
According to the research, 82 per cent of families paid out extra for meals, drinks and other items in their all inclusive hotel at an average cost of £139.31 each.
Despite the large sums spent on their hotel, nine-in-ten families splashed the cash away from their hotel.
In European resorts, eating out, alcoholic and soft drinks, snacks, ice cream and bottled water cost all inclusive tourists an average of £292, while holidaymakers on long haul holidays spent an average of over £320 on those items.
The best advice, if going all-inclusive, is to do your homework and find out as exactly what is and isn’t included as soon as you arrive in the resort.
“Avoid falling into financial pitfalls like charges made for drinks late at night and limited periods when ice creams are free,” advises Brown. “Learn the rules of your resort and save yourself cash.”
The report found that in 10 European destinations choosing B&B board was a much savvier option.
This is particularly marked in Turkey. An all inclusive week in Marmaris for a family of four costs 77 per cent (£1,208) more than B&B – a total of £2,771.55 compared with £1,563.38.
Sorrento, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, is a close contender. There, a week’s B&B costs £2,428.88 compared with £3,493.55 for all inclusive, which means that the latter is almost 44 per cent more expensive.
The only destination where all inclusive proved cheaper than B&B was Majorca. Families can expect to save around £202 on the Spanish island, almost eight per cent less than the B&B option.
Despite this, only one per cent of families who had enjoyed an all-inclusive holiday said they wouldn’t go again although 74 per cent had complaints about aspects of their trip.
Wi-fi caused the greatest gripes with half of families moaning about poor wi-fi signal.
A third complained about the lack of food of restaurant choice and 22 per cent disliked buffet food.
Thirty five per cent spent an average of £67 on a la carte meals in European all inclusive resorts while 94 per cent chose to splash out to the tune of almost £81 on meals in local resort restaurants.
Half of families on long haul holidays spent around £62 on a la carte meals and 95 per cent spent an average of £91 eating out away from their hotel.