What To Expect With A Vacation Package (3)

If you have never been on a Vacation Package, it can be very difficult to gauge whether it is going to be for you. The lure of free food and drink for your entire stay sounds great - as does the beachfront location, the available water-sports and the hotel entertainment, but what does it all mean?

So here is a quick guide to what you should expect and what to watch out for…..

The Flight

You will usually travel on a charter flight which means that it will be full to the brim with other people, probably all going to the same or neighbouring resort as you - some of these people will even be staying at your hotel. These flights come with optional hot meals, but will sell snack foods and drinks regularly through the flight as well as duty free goods and sometimes novelty gifts and raffle tickets, etc. You should also have in-flight entertainment including free headphones, with several movies to choose from, music channels and comedy and cartoon offerings. You also get a blanket and pillow with overnight flights and maybe even an eye mask and toothbrush set!


When you arrive at your destination airport, clear customs and leave the airport, all the representatives from the tour companies should be outside, holding up ID cards. Find your rep and they will check you off, and tell you which one of the huge number of waiting coaches to get on. When your coach is full, it heads off to your hotel and possibly a few others on the way. You will normally get a rep or other guide on your coach who gives you an information pack, and describes journey times and any important information for check-in, etc. They will also tell you what time your welcome meeting is the following day.

Check In

In the reception you will be given a welcome drink and a room number and sent on your way with a map. At many all inclusive resorts, and sometimes others, you will be required to wear a brightly coloured non removable wristband for that hotel. This allows the staff to know that everything you eat or drink is free, and to tell you apart from those who have to pay. You head off from here and get your first look around on the way to your room, and at some point after that a concierge will bring your bags and expect a tip!

Your Hotel

Now you are there and settled in you need to find your way either to the main restaurant or the bar depending on your order of importance (!) It’s also an opportunity to read all the relevant information about your safety as well as fire (and hurricane) procedures. Also to find out whether your room is not to close or too far away from the important things to you. If you are not too active do you need a room closer to the reception and restaurants? Do you like your sleep, so want to be further from the thumping disco? Closer to the beach? Now is the time to change rooms, as you haven’t even unpacked!

Your Room

Will be vaguely as stated in your brochure, usually containing local decor and bright colours! Your chambermaid will clean it every morning for you, changing the towels if necessary, and replenishing water and mini bar as appropriate. They will sometimes leave you flowers or make swans out of your new towels, which will be wearing your hat or sunglasses if they are to hand……. Don’t leave the doors open at night though, unless you want to be eaten alive by mosquitoes that are attracted in by your lights!! You may have a resident gecko in your room (which is good, as they eat insects), as well as ants or beetles if you leave food around…… The room are not airtight!

Welcome Meeting

These are not compulsory, but they do offer an insight into the local area, buses, taxi’s, hotel amenities, etc. They also tell you the history of the country you are visiting and will offer you a vast array of trips you can go on while you are there, usually including a boat trip, a fishing trip, a culture tour, a capital city tour, a local village tour and a national food or drink plantation (banana/sugar/cinnamon/etc). These vary from $40 to £300 depending on what you want to do.

Restaurants and Bars 

Order what you want from the bar - it’s free (well, not including the really expensive stuff, or things that have to be imported). You can chat to your bartender and he or she will help you to work your way through the cocktails and spirits on offer during your stay! Fresh fruit juice, tea and coffee are usually available as are ice creams in some locations.

The restaurants vary in hotels, but basically all inclusive offers a buffet style meal 3 times a day. like 7-10am, 1-3pm and 7-10pm. Some resorts have more than one restaurant so find out what meals they offer as it may only be lunch or dinner. There are usually speciality restaurants that you can eat in free but you have to book a table and the number of visits you have may be limited. If the hotel also offers half board or bed and breakfast, you may find other restaurants there that you have to pay for even though you are all inclusive.

Some hotels offer 24 hour all inclusive deals which sound great, but sometimes the only food on offer through the night are ham rolls or cheese toasties! Some hotels do offer great hot 24hr food, but the brochures do not normally specify which ones they are!

Hotel Rep 

This person would have hosted the welcome meeting and will also be available to you during your stay, but they may rep for several hotels so your access to them may be limited or over the phone initially. They are always available for any questions or complaints you have in the hotel, although some hotels off their own customer service representative, or the reception staff may help. If you want to make a formal complaint though, you must go through your rep.


This usually involves young members of staff making a lot of noise around the hotel. They try to get you to dance, play volleyball, come to their evening shows, enter raffles, and play sports. It can get a bit annoying if you want to relax around the pool, but you can normally get away from them at the beach! They also run the kids clubs during the day if available.

The entertainment or animation team also put on loud evening shows for you, sometimes by the main bar and sometimes in a theatre area away from the main hotel, usually basic dancing and panto-like shows from 9-11pm - so make sure your room is far enough away from these if you do not intend to go!! Some hotels even offer a late night disco until 2am……

Sport equipment varies, so always check what exactly is free (sometimes its only your first go, or the first hour, etc) and how to book it. It’s always different in every hotel, so make sure you ask as early as possible once you are there otherwise you could miss out. Check for the safety of things offered as well, as standards vary. Most hotels also offer a small library where guests can borrow, swap or leave their books for others.

Tips- All the staff will know when you are leaving and they will all be that bit nicer to you as a result. But if you have had a great service, or service above what you expected, and you wish to tip for it, then check with your rep what is expected and how best to do it, or for multiple persons - ie - the whole bar was great, who do you give the money to?


Depending on your flight time, you may have to leave the resort before breakfast, or you could have to sit about with your cases for several hours after check out time, waiting for your coach - not too good if you are wearing your jeans and coat!! Some people sunbathe up to the last minute, and others get private taxis to the airport early to get the best seats on the plane and avoid the long queues when all the coaches descend on the airport at the same time!

Think it’s for you now?