When answering the question whether it is worth going all-inclusive in Sri Lanka, it is important that we first clarify what we refer to as all-inclusive. In the tourism industry the term “all-inclusive” is used to describe hotel meal plans and tour packages.
Unless you are booking a beach resort in a quiet coastal area of Sri Lanka, it is not recommended booking an all-inclusive accommodation packages for Sri Lanka that include breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. However, it is highly recommended that you book a tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour that includes hotels, breakfast, dinner, excursions, private vehicle, and a chauffeur guide.
Note – It is important that the tour package to be tailor-made. Sri Lanka has complex weather patterns. Your itinerary should be planned according to the weather patterns of the month that you visit Sri Lanka.
Why you should NOT book your accommodation on all-inclusive basis in Sri Lanka
All inclusive accommodation is perfect for destinations like Maldives. All the star class resorts in Maldives are located in private islands. Unless you are visiting a local island as a day tour, you will be spending the entire holiday in your resort. This means you will be having all your meals and drinks from the resort. It is well worth booking your accommodation in Maldives on all-inclusive basis, so you will be able to enjoy your stay without worrying about the final bill.
Sri Lanka is the opposite of the Maldives. Any good Sri Lanka itinerary would have at least three locations, which means you do not stay in one place like in Maldives. You will be spending lots of time away from the hotel enjoying hikes, jeep safaris, village tours and historical sites. Most days you will not have your lunch at your hotel.
It makes more sense to book your accommodation on half board basis (accommodation with breakfast and dinner) instead of booking your accommodation on all-inclusive basis in Sri Lanka. You can pay for the additional meals and drinks that you have from the hotel when you are checking out from the hotel.
If the hotel meals and drinks are too expensive, it would not be hard to find reasonably priced good restaurant and bars in most tourist regions of Sri Lanka. (The tourist regions that do not have many restaurants and bars are Pasikudah, Ahungalla, Kalpitiya, Deniyaya, Anuradhapura, Hatton, Gal Oya, Haputale, Udawalawe and Mannar.)
Why you should book a tailormade all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour
There are mainly four reasons to book a tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour through a travel agent.
1. It is convenient
If you have already done some research to plan your holiday, you will agree it is a lot of work planning a Sri Lanka holiday. You need to get your itinerary right. Then you need to find good hotels, good driver and reliable suppliers for excursion to make it work.
If you are booking your holiday as an all-inclusive tour, you will not have to worry about any of this. The travel agency will arrange everything for you.
2. Well planned itineraries
Your tour itinerary can make or break your holiday. Sri Lanka faces two monsoon seasons. They affect different parts of Sri Lanka alternately. Naturally, you would want to choose the regions that are least likely to have rain during the month that you visit Sri Lanka.
In addition to that, you need to have a good understanding of the travel times and the time needed for each excursion of the tour to plan a good Sri Lanka itinerary.
If it is your first time visiting Sri Lanka, it can be a bit of struggle figuring out these things. Any good travel agent is well aware of the weather patterns, travel times and the time needed for each excursion in Sri Lanka. Your travel agent will take these factors into consideration when designing an all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour for you.
3. You can be sure you have a great time
The main goal of a good travel agency is to make sure that their guests have a wonderful time during their holiday. They are very careful about the hotels and the service providers that they use in their tours.
Even if you had an issue during an all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour, the travel agency would act promptly to solve the problem. They usually have a very good relationship with the hotels and the service providers that they use in their tours.
4. No surprises
Your tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour will include almost all the expenses of your Sri Lanka holiday. Most travel agencies in Sri Lanka do not arrange flight tickets, visas, or lunches. Other than that, pretty much all the expenses of your holiday are included in your tour package, which is great if you like to keep track of your expenses.
Are there any negatives to tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka tours?
The only negative aspect of a tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka tours is you cannot be very spontaneous with them.
Of course, if you want to visit a landmark that is a few kilometers away from your hotel, you can do that. Most of the time, you will not even have to inform the travel agency about a small detour. However, if you want to completely change the itinerary in the middle of the tour, your travel agency will not be able to arrange that without charging you extra for the new accommodations and any other expenses that might be involved in the itinerary change.
(By the time you land in Sri Lanka, all the hotels are fully paid. Hotels do not offer last minute refunds unless there is a very valid reason for the last-minute cancellation of the reservation. This is the main reason why you will have to pay extra, if you change the itinerary at the last minute.)
Are tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka holidays expensive?
Tailor-made all-inclusive Sri Lanka holidays are not necessarily expensive. It depends on the travel agency that you use. The tours that are arranged by tour companies located outside Sri Lanka usually a bit more expensive, as they have to partner with a local travel agency to deliver their service.
Hotels and other service providers offer low rates for travel agencies, as they bring most of their business. So, it could be actually less expensive to book the full tour through a travel agency.
If you are curious to know how much it will cost for a tailor-made Sri Lanka holiday, please drop us a message. Travellers Isle is a SLTDA certified travel agency located in Sri Lanka. We typically respond to all our inquiries within 24 hours.
I hope this clears up any doubts about choosing an all-inclusive tour in Sri Lanka. In summary, it is not recommended booking accommodation in Sri Lanka with the all-inclusive meal plan, but it is recommended that you book an all-inclusive Sri Lanka tour arranged by a local travel agency.
Feel free to leave a comment if there is anything that you want to get clarified. As always, I am looking forward to answering all your questions.