A Young Adult's Cheat Sheet To All-Inclusive Resorts

Photo: Courtesy of Club Med.
I'm perched on the ledge of a wooden terrace, overlooking an olive grove tucked in the Alps-Maritimes region of the South of France. The best thing about the setting was not the gentle Mediterranean breeze grazing my cheeks, nor the faint fragrance of pines and locally-produced virgin olive oil — It's the glass of chilled rosé sitting in my hand, which comes in endless supply, as part of my all-inclusive package at Club Med Opio en Provence.
All-inclusive resorts is an increasingly profitable part of the travel industry, but they're typically known for servicing an older, more family-oriented demographic: The term evokes the image of baby boomers lounging by the pool, or screaming children running around buffet stations. In recently years, the sector has undergone massive rebranding efforts to position itself as a fuss-free holiday option for millennial travellers, by providing additional entertainment amenities and emphasising the convenience of being hands-free.
It's not hard to see why all-inclusive resorts are gaining more footing amongst millennials travepling in groups: Having everything taken care of means that there won't be one person in the squad bogged down with planning everything. There's also the aspect of keeping your expenses under a budget: According to Xavier Mufraggi, the President and CEO of Club Med North America and Caribbean, 90% of the spending is done before the guests actually arrived to an all-inclusive resort.
The premise of having unlimited access to food, drinks, and entertainment for a flat fee does sound alluring, but is everything actually part of the package, no questions asked? Here's a low down on what to expect from an all-inclusive resort — and how to make the most of it as a young adult.
Photo: Courtesy of Club Med.
Food And Drinks Are Included — More Or Less
At most all-inclusive resorts, your three meals of the day are taken care of, typically provided buffet-style. In Club Med Opio's case, Provençal style dishes — from a delectable veal stew to roasted cod fillets — are available in addition to your run-of-the-mill dining options.
The promise of unlimited alcohol is what draws many people to book with an all-inclusive resort, and it does come in bottomless supply: Basic cocktails, like piña colada or cosmopolitans will be included, in addition to house wine. But be prepared to shell out extra if you're going for something more premium, like champagne in the à la carte menu.
Beware Of Add-Ons I had expected to pay up for certain add-ons on my trip, but certain things did come as unexpected, as they would be complimentary at a regular hotel. My travel adapter had broken at the airport, and I was expecting to be able to borrow a conversion plug from reception. Turns out, I had to pay €20 at the gift shop for something that would probably had cost me €5 outside of the hotel. Another surprise was the lack of toothbrush and toothpaste in my room — those also came at a price at the shop. However, towels were free of charge.
Photo: Courtesy of Club Med.
Spending Cash Won't Be Easy
Every guest is given a wristband upon check in, where they can pay for à la carte items or services after topping up with credit on a credit or debit card. If you've only got cash on you, paying will be a bit of a hassle: You'll be asked to go all the way to the front desk, pay up, and collect your item with a receipt. So, best to just leave your wallet in the safe and top up your wristband beforehand.
Don't Worry About Leaving Tips
Gratuity is usually included in all-inclusive packages. At Club Med, the service staff is actually advised to not accept tips, but leaving a bit extra for housekeeping is encouraged.
The Best Time To Book
If you're wary of a resort packed with kids, try your best to stay away from booking during the summer high season, which is around July and August. For adult travellers, Mufraggi recommends the period between May to June and September to Oct — when school's in session and the weather is still balmy — as the best time to experience all-inclusive resorts.
Photo: Courtesy of Club Med.
Best Time & Place To Unwind Another way to beat the family crowds? Take your meals slightly later than usual. "Most parents have breakfast at the same time to take their kids to the kid's club, which opens at 9a.m.," says Mufraggi. "Having a later breakfast means you won't even see any children."
Most all-inclusive resorts also have dedicated areas reserved for grown-ups: I found the most relaxing feature to be the Zen Pool, an adults-only infinity pool with a spectacular view of mediaeval towns, where classical music is blasted underwater.
Many Activities Come Free
Apart from unlimited food and drinks, a major plus for staying in an all-inclusive resort is the activities available at no extra charge. Club Med Opio provides tennis classes, fitness session, and guided walking tours to nearby French villages at no extra charge. The hospitality brand has also launched CREACTIVE, a partnership with Cirque de Soleil, where visitors can take free trapeze, aerial silk, trampoline, and bungee lessons — a golden opportunity for holiday Instagramming, if there ever was one.
Editor's Note: Travel and accommodation for the author was provided by Club Med for the purpose of writing this story.
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