Some like it hot, hot, hot

A handy checklist for the all-inclusive vacation

As the snow and cold grip our country, Canadians are thinking about two things: Vitamin D and piña coladas, preferably at the same time.wim bar

Though the best-laid plans would have us planning, booking and paying for our winter vacations well ahead of the stroms, such is seldom the case. To the rescue: All-inclusives.

The fully loaded vacation may not be suitable for every one of your holidays but for sun-hungry northerners whose skin has turned a lighter shade of pale, it’s just the tonic needed to get through the dark months. More good news: there is a package to suit every taste and every pocketbook.

Herein follows a personal checklist for anyone considering an all-inclusive:

  • Browse, browse, browse: With so much product out there you want to make sure you find the right place. Although the web has tons of info — and you should definitely check it all out — what you really need is a matchmaker aka travel agent. Sure, it’s the era of booking online but since there’s nothing worse than a bad match (in travel, as in relationships). Best to trust someone who has been there and done that. 
  • Make a wish list: Tall, dark and handsome? Petite, blonde and bubbly? Whatever your perfect match, you have to be clear in order to find it. When it comes to all-inclusives that list might contain: on a beach, diversions for children, golf course nearby, room overlooking ocean, options for sightseeing, close to airport, resort casino, etc. 
  • Set a price limit: With so much inventory out there, you really can find a place to suit your budget. Considering Barbados? Air Canada Vacations recently featured a package for two with the second person flying for free and 18 resorts from which to choose. Or how about Total Vacations’ Alba Suites in Acapulco at $31 per person per night? These are just a couple of offers currently listed in the Travel Market at Make sure you know what’s in the package and you won’t incur unexpected costs — some resorts include alcoholic beverages (ask if that means only domestic products like local beer or also encompasses your fave high-end tequila), all meals, windsurfers, and so forth, some do not. Prices usually wrap in airfare and, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is; relying on a travel agent will help ensure there aren’t cracked walls or cucarachas. 
  • Word to the wise: Be sure to cover yourself in case things go wrong. Buy travel insurance and inquire about cancellation policies. 
  • Know thyself: All-inclusives come in all shapes and sizes — there are resorts for singles, honeymooners, families, golf and tennis aficionados, spa lovers and, if you want to walk around in the buff, there’s a place for you, too. Keep in mind that should you want to go more native and head out to the nearest town for meals or trek about the region, you should be looking for bare-bones pricing that only includes accommodation. Just don’t get jealous when you spot someone showing the pool bartender a bracelet as they order their fourth piña colada! 
  • Visit The latest offers from a large array of agents and operators are posted daily for Canadian vacationers seeking a hit of vitamin D.