Will an All-Inclusive Resort Really Save Me Money?

You may be wondering, “Will staying at an all-inclusive resort actually save me money?”. The answer will surprise you!

Most Likely, and Here are Some Reasons Why!

Better for Budgets

Don’t be daunted by the big price tag associated with some of the all-inclusive resorts. The price you pay may well be worth it, both for your wallet and for the amount you’ll be able to relax. Going the all-inclusive route is actually great for budgeters! Most travelers set a range for their vacation budget, and try to stay as close within that range as possible. Paying for an all-inclusive resort lets you know the price ahead of time, and can help you stick to your budget. You’ll know that everything you experience has been paid for already, so there’s little opportunity for sneaky fees and expenses to join you on your vacation.

Tips & Taxes Included

For those of you that have traveled abroad, you may have been tasked with figuring out appropriate gratuities and taxes. How much is too much, or too little, for the tip at dinner? Do I tip at the bar? Are taxes already included or not? These are just some of the questions you can avoid by booking your next vacation at a resort. A tip here and a tip there can, and do, add up outside of resorts. Travelers are often surprised by how much of their vacation budget went towards tips and taxes along the way. All-inclusive resorts tend to include tips and taxes in the price you pay upfront, potentially saving you money in the long-run.

Price Predictability

If you’re a first time traveler and not sure what your budget should be for your upcoming vacation, staying at an all-inclusive resort is a great place to start. They are a great vacation option for new travelers, especially when going abroad, and provide a sense of security and predictability for your wallet. Nearly everything is paid for when you click “Book Now”, so forget about that nickel and diming nonsense! If you’re aiming to save money, and you want to know that you stuck to your set budget, an all-inclusive resort may be for you.

Need More Proof?

We’ve compared 5 nights at a standard all-inclusive resort on the beach in Cancun, Mexico with the same 5 nights at a standard hotel resort (not all-inclusive) on the beach in that same area. By researching various prices of all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, we’ve calculated that an average night would cost two adults around $363. For your 5 night stay, that’s a total cost of $1,815. Not bad for indulging in a week of Mexican sunshine, where everything is already included. For the same 5 night stay at a hotel resort, again, not all-inclusive, the average price per night is about $256. That’s a total cost of $1,280, which just covers the lodging expenses.

The graphic below compares the average cost for two adults at both an all-inclusive resort and a hotel resort, covering the basics of every great vacation; lodging, food, drinks, and entertainment.

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For this example, we’ve used The Iberostar Cancun as our all-inclusive resort, and compared it to The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas as our hotel resort.

All-Inclusive Resort

The Iberostar Cancun hits close to our average all-inclusive resort price, coming out to about $374 per night for two adults. For a 5-night stay, you’re looking at spending about $1,867 total. Let’s see what that price includes: a room with two queen beds, 24-hour room service, access to the spa’s hydrotherapy area, daily mini-bar service, unlimited meals, snacks, premium domestic and international beverages as well as limitless entertainment, live nightly shows and non-motorized water sports for you to enjoy. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

TOTAL: $1,867 for two people

Hotel Resort (Not All-Inclusive)

To enjoy similar perks on your vacation while staying at the hotel resort, you’d need to factor in all the separate prices.


Each night at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas costs two adults $263, coming out to a total cost of $1,315 for 5 nights. The room also includes room for 2 to sleep comfortably, but you can forget about 24-hour room service and unlimited mini-bar access being included. Those will cost you extra, depending on which products you order/consume during your stay.


Breakfast is offered at the hotel resort, and will cost you an additional $21 per person each morning. Lunch in Cancun will cost about $11 per person. This is including a soft-drink and/or water with your meal, not an alcoholic beverage. We’ll get to those prices later! A 3-course dinner, similar to those featured at all-inclusive resorts, will come out to be about $15 per person, again, excluding an alcoholic beverage. If you splurge for desserts and various snacks throughout the day, you’re going to have to factor those in to your budget as well. If you want to really pinch pennies, try grabbing a few tacos from a street vendor and skip the sit-down experience at restaurants. For 5 nights, your total food cost could come to $470 for the two of you.


If you’re looking to pair your breakfast with a little “hair of the dog”, an average price for a drink, perhaps a Bloody Mary or Mimosa, will cost you about $5 at breakfast. Those local tacos you just enjoyed for lunch sure would be tastier with a margarita or two, right? That’s going to cost you an average of about $6 per drink. You’re on vacation, so why not enjoy dinner with a glass or two of wine, or perhaps some of the local beer Mexico is known for? Dinner drinks will cost you an average of $5 each. In summary, one day’s worth of vacation drinks could end up costing you, at minimum, $16. Let’s multiply that minimum by the 5 nights you’re staying there, and we’ve got a total of $80 for drinks alone. For two people, that’s $400. You can try to get in during Happy Hours, but that limits the “when” and “where” you choose to enjoy your libations.

Activities & Entertainment

All-inclusive resorts typically include various daytime activities and nighttime entertainment. To enjoy a similar experience while staying at your hotel resort, we need to factor in those separate prices. Let’s imagine that you want to experience a few of the most popular choices offered at most all-inclusive resorts during your vacation.

You and your traveling companion decide to rent a kayak and enjoy an ocean paddle on one of your Cancun days. Your kayak rental will include the kayak, life jackets, and paddles. On average, you’ll pay about $99 per person.

If you want to experience a local cooking class, be prepared to spend about $127 per person. This price includes learning how to make several well-known Mexican dishes, as well as taking home the recipes for when you’re craving those flavors back home.

Most all-inclusive resorts entertain their guests with nightly shows and/or dance clubs. An average price for nighttime entertainment outside of your hotel resort is about $98 per person.

For these typical Cancun experiences, you’re looking at paying about $648 total.

In Summary

Lodging: $1,315
Food: $470
Drinks: $400
Entertainment: $648

TOTAL: $2,833 for two people

Feel free to use our All-Inclusive Resort Search to help you narrow down your vacation choices.