All Inclusive or À la Carte?

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Until the end of time people will disagree on this subject. What is better? Staying in an all inclusive resort or staying in a hotel, condo or villa and paying for things as you go?


There are so many factors involved to come to this decision. Having traveled to many places around the world over the past 31 years, we have tried both options many times.

When we were young and just started traveling, we tended to lean towards all inclusive options.

But as we evolved into more seasoned travelers, we wanted to get out of that bubble and see more of what our destinations had to offer. Once you become a more confident traveler you will potentially feel that way as well. Or maybe not! Our palettes enhance as we get to try new and unique foods. Some of us even become self proclaimed ‘foodies’. I will never forget being at a Sandals (AI) in the buffet line and having the gentleman next to me explain kefta to me. I was so young and had never tried Mediterranean food. I was blown away! Now it is one of my fav’s! There are some really delicious Mediterranean restaurants to try on Aruba. We LOVE Sultan and the Habibi Express Food Truck!


We began staying in hotels without the AI option so we could spread our wings and try anything we wanted. And traded in our frozen fruities for wine and ‘tried’ to be adventurous. Still young but learning, we did ok.


Then we became tired of having to get ‘dolled up’ for dinner every night. (Mind you, this was 15-20 years ago when there were strict dress codes at many places.) We decided to try our first ‘villa’ in the early 2000’s and it was on a trip to Aruba. We actually saw an ad for it in the Aruba Today newspaper while laying at Renaissance Beach (then called Sonesta). Talk about throwback!

Needless to say, we loved it! We still went out to our favorite places, but also had a kitchen. I love to cook so we really saved a ton by doing some grocery shopping and throwing in a few home cooked meals as well as ‘much less expensive albeit the same’ wine at home. It was somewhere around this time we stopped checking luggage. We needed so much less when staying at more casual accommodations! I also made room for some essential seasonings in my carry-on for in room meal prep. We began doing this on all of our trips, not just Aruba, and it worked very well for us.


Then once you become a repeat traveler to the same destination, multiple times a year, you begin to make local friends. Now you aren’t just cooking in your room and going out here and there. You are having barbecues and pool parties with your new island family. A few years go by and maybe you make the leap to own property on Aruba like we did.


Now it feels like we are coming full circle, as friends and family come from the States to visit and want to try our best restaurants. So we are back out there trying those places, old and new, and making new favorites that are off the beaten path.


Aruba is one place we never did an all inclusive because there are so many fantastic restaurants with world class chefs ready to wow us. But that doesn’t mean that is for you! You have to go with what is comfortable for you and let your own experiences evolve you. Everyone has an opinion and none of them are wrong. Enjoy our beautiful island and all it has to offer. That is one of the many things that makes Aruba soooooo great. There is truly something for everyone!


If you are looking for a place to stay, check out my ‘Places to stay’ page. Of course I do not list them all, but many of the major hotels to give you an idea of location.

A very popular place to stay on Aruba is the Holiday Inn. It is located right on Palm Beach within a short walk to a lot of restaurants and shops. While it is not the most fancy of resorts, you really get a lot of bang for your buck here. There are various inclusive packages or you can just book the room. It is free to sign up for the IHG Rewards program, and in return you get a discount on your stay!

Click on this link for pricing and package options.

Or check out Hotels.com for pricing on other hotels or villa rentals.

Current promo, get up to $100 cash rebate on certain stays!


If you are looking for a condo type setup, my friend has a 2 bedroom on Eagle Beach for rent. Here is the link.

You have a large party? Another friend has a 5 bedroom, Bali inspired home just minutes from Palm Beach. Here is the website. www.villabahati.com

If you prefer to stay closer to downtown and centrally located on the island, yet another friend, has a super cute 1 bedroom AirBnB just about a mile from the airport. Have a look at her place here.

Give me a shout out if you book with any of my friend's places. I don't get a commission but would love to share with them if someone books through my page!


A good local resource for condo/apartment rentals is Aruba Happy Rentals. Take a look!


Ready to take the plunge and buy? Go to the BEST real estate company on Aruba here.








If you plan to go the villa/apartment route, depending on location, you will want a car. Here are a couple links to

help with that. Dollar Rent A Car has 25% off if you prepay with this link. And Thrifty has 15% off if you prepay and use this link.




*I do receive a small commission from my affiliates when you use the links provided here. There is no extra cost to you! For more info read my affiliate disclaimer below.


Masha danki! For your support!


Also check out my other posts:

What to Pack and Step by Step instructions for filling out your ED Card and much more!


Affiliate Disclaimer

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