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The Meal Plan: All-Inclusive vs. European

The Meal Plan: All-Inclusive vs. European

by Roberto Jaimes

There are so many choices available when traveling to the Caribbean. Which country? Which region? Which resort? Which excursions? The multitude of choices makes each trip unique to every traveler, but it can also be daunting. One of the biggest questions vacationers have is a classic dilemma. Do I go All-Inclusive or do I go European Plan?

All-Inclusive (AI)

Guests at an All-Inclusive resort have it all. The reservation includes all food and beverages. That includes alcohol, taxes, and even gratuity depending on the resort. Many of these resorts have multiple restaurants, bars, and snack areas, so guests have a large number of dining options. Being hungry is a simple problem to solve. Is it time for that midnight snack? No problem if the resort has a 24-hour snack bar. Just head on down and grab something. Planning on enjoying a few adult beverages? At an All-Inclusive, guests can try that mixed drink they've always wanted.

Although many All-Inclusive resorts are large, there are also numerous choices of a medium-sized or boutique resort; and all would offer great amenities. Non-motorized water sports are generally included in AI. Most resorts offer free nightly entertainment. Travelers looking to relax, not worrying about the little things, and stick around the resort for the majority of the trip may be interested in the All-Inclusive option. It's the full-service vacation. Everything is paid for up front and taken care of.

European Plan (EP)

The European Plan means that all food provided by the hotel is charged at an additional cost. Tips are the guest's responsibility. If you're planning on venturing out beyond the resort, then this might be your best option. While an All-Inclusive resort makes things convenient and within close range of your room, the European Plan is more for the adventurous type who wants to do some exploring. Since you won't be at your resort or hotel much, it doesn't make sense to pay for meals you won't be eating anyway.

An EP vacation tends be more intimate than at an AI resort since they are more popular with smaller properties. There's no pressure to "get your money's worth" like at an AI where guests feel compelled to take advantage of all their options.

American Plan and Modified American Plan

Some resorts and hotels offer what is known as the American Plan (AP). This means breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included with the price of reservation. Drinks and snacks are not included. The Modified American Plan (MAP) includes breakfast and either lunch or dinner.

Breakfast Included vs. Continental Breakfast Plan

Resorts and hotels also make a distinction between Breakfast Included and Continental Plan. The Continental Breakfast Plan is the classic continental breakfast popular at many hotels. Breakfast is self-serve, and guests are given juice, coffee, and tea options. There are no cooked foods such as pancakes, breakfast sausages, or eggs, but there are breads such as muffins, pastries, bagels, or scones. Some continental-plan hotels have waiters. It is customary to leave a tip. No other meals are covered.

Breakfast Included is similar to the Continental Breakfast Plan in that breakfast is the only meal covered by the reservation cost. However, breakfasts are a little more involved with cooked foods on the menu. Breakfasts can be buffet or a la carte, and are generally staffed with waiters who should be tipped.

Note that not all resorts are equal, so it is best to check what exactly their meal plan includes.

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