Ask Trip Coach: Responses to questions about all-inclusives

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Thanks to everybody who submitted questions, and special thanks to folks who chimed in with resort reviews and insights about their all-inclusive experiences.

We'll be publishing a full story on the topic in an upcoming issue, but for now, here are some quick thoughts on questions that were submitted:

Ways to Avoid Single Supplement?

Many resorts discount or completely waive normal single supplement charges during the "off" season for all-inclusive resorts. That generally means late spring, summer, and fall. Bear in mind that much of this period is hurricane season, and that even if you're not paying a single supplement, you're probably not getting quite as big a discount as if you were sharing a room in typical double occupancy fashion. Club Med is good about publishing its special rates for solo travelers. Check out its 2009 singles offers.

Best Times for Deals?

Other than hurricane season, that is? Two brief periods are good bets for storm-free weather, no crowds, and low prices. Try the few weeks in early December, just after Thanksgiving but before students leave school for winter break, and also the couple of weeks just after New Year's, starting on January 5 or so. These are lulls for resorts, and there are often great discounts.

All-Inclusive Versus Cruise?

Both experiences are similar in that, in hassle-free fashion, they provide all your meals and lodging, along with lots of activities. Cruises tend to be much more social: You typically sit with other passengers during meals, and the folks who go on cruises tend to be a chatty, gregarious bunch. You'll find outgoing personalities at all-inclusives too, but at such resorts it's much more common to see someone lounging on a beach for hours happily all alone, or to spot couples chilling out in their own little worlds. Another difference is that all-inclusives generally include more in the room rate. Alcohol, for one, is almost always included at land resorts, but costs extra on cruise ships.

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