We’ve been to 16 All-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana as of the writing of this post, and it’s easy to forget not everyone is as familiar as us with the concept of an all-inclusive hotel.
We get many questions about what’s included and what’s not, so we wrote this post to help you better understand the all-inclusive concept and plan your Punta Cana vacation.
Let’s start with the basics; since the food and beverages in an all-inclusive resort are all you can eat and drink, prices are calculated per person per night. VIP status upgrades and room type will affect your cost per person.
Included: The Room
The most obvious thing included in the price you pay is the room. There are several room types at different price points.
Still, even the cheapest one will most likely have standard amenities like a safe, iron with an ironing board or a steamer, and an umbrella; some will also include bath robes and slippers.
You can expect basic toiletries like hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in the bathroom.
Coffee Station & Minibar
There is also a coffee station and a minibar. Depending on the hotel’s price point and your room type, these amenities can go from basic to fancy.
The basic coffee stations usually consist of a coffee maker and sometimes a kettle for tea, while the fancier ones include a Nespresso machine with different flavored coffee pods. Basic minibars have soft drinks like juice, soda, water, and local beer.
The more complete ones, like the one at Falcon’s Resort by Meliá, include fancy water like Perrier, different beer brands, coconut water, chocolate milk, and snacks like chips, chocolate bars, and cookies.
Most all-inclusive hotels have 24-hour room service. Simply call and order from the menu if you want to eat in your room. However, one of the most common complaints is that room service could be faster, so keep that in mind.
Most hotels offer free wifi in the room and most hotel areas. It’s usually not the fastest nor the most stable, but it’s there if you need it. Of course, these wifi networks are public access, so their security is significantly compromised.
The most expensive rooms sometimes include a concierge or butler service. They can assist you with restaurant reservations where needed and other simple requests. Don’t expect a butler Downton Abbey style but rather more personalized assistance during your stay.
Included: The Food
The most well-known aspect of an all-inclusive hotel is that it’s all-you-can-eat. There is always a buffet-style restaurant open for all three meals, although some resorts don’t open it for dinner or, some days, even close it for lunch, depending on occupancy.
There are also a la carte restaurants where you order from a menu. These restaurants offer different cuisine options, the most common being Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Pan-Asian, French, American, and Peruvian.
The bigger the hotel, the more restaurant options you’ll find. The menu consists of an entrée, the main course, and dessert. You can order more than just one of the options available, for example, two different entrée options, a main, and two desserts.
Some hotels require you to make a reservation for the a la carte restaurants to secure your table, and you can book more than one restaurant per night if you wish. You may also dine at a restaurant and then hit the buffet or vice-versa.
Coffee Shops & Snack Bars
Between meals, there are options available for snacking. The most common are BBQ grills offering hot dogs, burgers, and nachos.
Coffee shops are also popular for coffee, cold savory snacks such as wraps and sandwiches, and sweet options like cake, cookies, and ice cream.
Included: The Drinks
Unlimited drinks are also a popular feature of all-inlcusives. There are several bars across the resorts where you can order soft drinks like soda or water and, of course, alcoholic drinks.
The most famous bars are the pool bars, you can order drinks without leaving the pool. Bartenders will prepare your desired cocktail.
The more high-end the hotel, the better bartenders they’ll have; they’ll know how to prepare a wider selection of cocktails.
You can order as many drinks as you want, as many times as you wish. A pro tip is to pack a tumbler or isolated cup that takes more liquid than the cups the hotel offers; this way, you don’t have to make as many trips to the bar.
Most resorts also have a sports bar where you can drink and grab something to eat.
Included: The Pools
Depending on the hotel size, you’ll have several pools to choose from. Some pools might be off-limits, but we’ll discuss them later in this video.
There could also be pools for adults only, while others are for families with kids or just for children.
Included: The Beach
The beach use is included; however, certain seating areas at the beach might be off-limits, but more on that later.
You may also borrow equipment for use at the beach, such as kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkeling equipment. Many hotels also offer a free scuba lesson in the pool as a way to upsell you on paid scuba lessons.
Included: Sports Facilities
Many resorts also have sports facilities that you can use free of charge; the more popular ones are tennis, paddle tennis, ping pong, beach volleyball, darts, chess, shuffleboard, soccer, and basketball.
And some less popular, like badminton, petanque, mini golf, archery, rock climbing, and even bowling, like at the Ocean El Faro Resort.
Some hotels have video game rooms, usually just for kids and teens. Some also have arcades, but these are generally pay-to-play.
Included: Kids Club
Most have a kids club where you can leave your kids while you enjoy other parts of the resort, while others also have a teens club with activities for teenagers where no adults are allowed.
A popular attraction that only a few hotels have, but the ones that do have it included in the fare, is a waterpark. They can vary in size and intensity of the slides.
Some are tailored for small children, like the one at Falcon’s Resort by Meliá; others cater to the whole family, like the one at Lopesan Costa Bavaro, while others have more extreme slides, like at the RIU Republica and the Dreams Onyx.
Some hotels like the Royalton Bavaro and the Ocean El Faro also have a lazy river that you can use free of charge.
Almost every resort has a gym with at least essential equipment for a basic workout. Some gyms are as complete as commercial gyms, like the one at the Lopesan Costa Bavaro.
Resorts also organize activities like sports competitions, aquaerobics, or yoga that everyone can partake in during the day.
Included: Night Entertainment
At night there is usually some entertainment. The most typical Punta Cana nighttime entertainment is a night show in the hotel theater.
These shows are varied, ranging from magic acts, circus night, dancing and singing numbers, and famous artists impersonators.
They usually take place after dinner at around 9 PM. Some hotels don’t do night shows but offer other kinds of entertainment like live music and silent disco parties.
Included: Night Club
Speaking of discos, nightclubs are also a popular included amenity in Punta Cana resorts. These clubs usually open after 11 PM until about 3 AM.
A bar is inside the nightclubs, and drinks here are included and unlimited, although I imagine they can cut you off for health and safety reasons.
People assume that everything is included in the hotel fare because of the term all-inclusive, which is not true for most resorts.
While almost every amenity is included in the regular price, some are upsells for which you must pay extra.
Not Included: Some Specialty Restaurants
For example, while restaurants are included in your fare, there could be one restaurant that you need to pay for. This can be a restaurant with a specially designed by a chef menu like A LAM BIK in the Margaritaville or a seafood specialty restaurant like in the Lopesan.
There could also be specific menu items in included restaurants that require extra payment, like premium steak cuts or wine other than the house wine. This will also be disclosed on the menu or by the waiter, so there’s little chance of ordering a paid item by mistake.
Not Included: Premium Drinks
The bars offer a wide variety of brand alcohol, but the most premium brands are not included, and you need to pay extra if you want them.
Not Included: Special Guest Status
Another popular upsell is the VIP guest status. It has different names like “Unique,” “Prestige,” and “Preferred.” You pay for this status when you book your room, or you can upgrade once you arrive at the resort. Its advantages vary from hotel to hotel.
However, it usually means exclusive access to some pools, restaurants, bars, pool and beach seating areas, and preference when booking regular a la carte restaurants.
Not Included: The Spa
While some resorts like the Riu Republica and the TRS Cap Cana let you use spa facilities like the sauna or hot tubs, all the services in the spa, such as massages, facials, aroma therapy, etc., require payment.
Not Included: Pool Cabanas & Balinese Beds
Pool cabanas and Balinese beds by the pool and beach are usually paid amenities, and you must reserve them beforehand.
Not Included: Premium Amenities
While most sports facilities and day activities are included, there might be some that are not. These are usually premium attractions like this surf machine in the Royalton Bavaro, which you must pay to use unless you are a Diamond Club member.
Not Included: Excursions
A great way to experience Punta Cana and other areas of the Dominican Republic is going on excursions, but they are not included in your hotel fare.
The resorts usually have tour desks for excursions, but we strongly recommend booking them online for the best prices and a greater variety.
We’ve handpicked some of the best Punta Cana excursions, which you can book directly on our website.
Check out our Punta Cana Resort Rankings