Ask the Expert: All-InclusiveWords by Jennifer Stein
There’s no shortage of opinions about the all-inclusive experience, but we referred to an expert to give you the straight-laced facts about holding your destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort. Chief Operating Officer of DestinationWeddings.com, Ed Cotton, breaks down the details of what’s included, the benefits and the best-kept secrets of how to get the most bang for your buck – all-inclusive style.
1. If we have our wedding at an all-inclusive, will it save us money or end up costing us more in the long run?
All-inclusive resorts are definitely a money saver. Many all-inclusive resorts specialize in weddings and offer amenities such as free wedding packages, group functions, etc. to couples who choose their resort. Since food and beverage is included, the additional cost to a couple for rehearsal dinners or receptions can be free to a minimal surcharge for a private event. This cost savings can be used for other wedding related costs such as music, flowers, etc. which allows a couple to really have the wedding of their dreams. Another great aspect of all-inclusive resorts is your guests have no hidden costs. When booking in advance, DestinationWeddings.com offers an EasyPayment Plan™ which allows guests to pay out the land portion of their travel in advance, so your guests can truly put their wallets in their en-room safes and not worry about spending extra money during the wedding event.
2. How much does the day we choose for the wedding effect the cost?
The day and date may come into play and can differ based on the destination. Usually, pricing is based on low season, shoulder season and high season so this will effect pricing. However, room availability at resorts is a more important factor and possibly controllable. Generally speaking, not unlike the airlines, the more rooms available, the lower the rate; the fewer available, the higher the rate. Because of our high volume, DestinationWeddings.com can oftentimes get group pricing two and sometimes three years in advance of the wedding date. This allows couples the opportunity to lock in rates based on the current year and room availability would not be a factor. This option represents a savings over booking six or 12 months before the wedding date. The other advantage couples have in confirming a group room block this far in advance is it assures everyone in the wedding party pays the same low rate.
3. I’ve heard about the Colin Cowie designs at Palace Resorts – won’t that cost a fortune since he’s a celebrity wedding planner?
Palace Resorts, All-Inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic and LeBlanc Spa Resort in Cancun contracted with Colin Cowie to design weddings for their resorts. Each of the three brands offer a different collection for couples to choose from. Colin’s designs are all amazing and diverse so they offer couples great options. Even more exciting is you don’t have to be amongst the rich and famous to have a Colin Cowie themed wedding as these resorts have packages starting from free – yes, free – and are customizable to each couple’s budget and desires.
4. Friends keep warning me that using a travel agent or wedding planner will eat up a lot of my budget and we should plan it ourselves to save money. Is this true?
Absolutely not true. I cannot speak about other companies, but DestinationWeddings.com does not charge anything for our services. We require a $50 commitment deposit in order to be assigned to one of our certified destination wedding specialists. That $50 is then used towards the couple’s final payment for their travel. More importantly, a wedding is the single most important event for a couple. Our level of service and advice comes from the fact that we specialize in destination weddings. To date we have helped coordinate over 13,000 destination weddings and arranged the travel for over 500,000 guests to attend those weddings. We have almost 200 certified destination wedding specialists located throughout the United States and Canada who are not only excellent at what they do, they have the expertise as all they do is destination weddings. Additionally, the vast majority of resorts offer free wedding coordinator services. These wedding coordinators will work with the couple in choosing their décor and menu for their special day.
5. Can’t I just use the Internet to book my destination wedding at an all-inclusive? If the packages are offered on the property’s website, won’t I be getting the same thing a destination wedding specialist would be getting me?
Our pricing is very competitive with Internet pricing, oftentimes better. However, it is important to realize several important factors before choosing to book you, or your guests through an online travel agency. First, the online pricing is probably not going to be the same for all guests in your wedding party and may increase the closer you get to your wedding date. As mentioned earlier, the best savings and assurance that everyone in your wedding party will have a room, is to do a group room-block as early in the process as you can. The savings can be very substantial. Also, and very, very important, many of the online travel agencies overbook and do not have contracts with the resorts on how reservations should be handled in an overbooked situation. DestinationWeddings.com only works with wholesalers who have terms in their resort contracts on how guests booking through them should be handled in an oversold situation. In the nine years we have been in business I cannot tell you how many times we have had frantic calls from a bride or groom about a guest who booked their travel on their own through an online travel agency. These guests got to the hotel only to find out they did not have a room and were being relocated to another hotel sometimes 50 or more miles away. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to help at that point since we did not handle the original reservation. It is always important to remember this is a wedding and everyone attending most likely wants to be together at the same resort to share in the wedding festivities. Sometimes what seemed innocent and worthwhile can put a damper on the event.
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