DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I recently booked a room at the Barcelo, an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When I made the reservation, it listed breakfast, lunch and dinner as included in the rate. But when I read the confirmation, it said only breakfast was included.
I booked an all-inclusive hotel stay, and I’m concerned that I might have to pay for lunch and dinner. I’ve tried to contact Priceline, but it hasn’t answered the meal question. Can you help?
— Michael O’Connor, Toronto
ANSWER: You booked an all-inclusive resort, so your stay should be all-inclusive — breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I tried to make a reservation at the Barcelo, too. Priceline lists it as all-inclusive and advertises all three meals as being part of the room rate. But when you look at the booking conditions on the page, only breakfast is included.
Your case is a reminder to always check the terms and conditions before you make a reservation. If you see any problems, you should get an answer before you pay for your hotel. If you’d done that, you might have skipped the Barcelo and headed to another hotel where the terms were clearer.
I reviewed the Barcelo site and was also confused. The property describes itself as an “all-inclusive” resort, which means all meals should be included. But your confirmation clearly states only breakfast is included.
This may be a good time to ask: What’s the big deal about a resort being all-inclusive? It’s not just the money you’ll save on meals; in some of these resort areas, there are limited dining options, so you have to eat every meal at the hotel. And that could easily double your hotel bill, depending on the size of your party. So sometimes all-inclusive is the best way to go.
But the point is, Barcelo promised you an all-inclusive experience, which then disappeared. I think you could have reached out to an executive at Priceline for clarification. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Priceline executives on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/priceline/.
I contacted Priceline on your behalf. The company reached out to your hotel, which verified that your rate was all-inclusive. “Breakfast, lunch and dinner are free,” the representative added.
OK, “free” is probably the wrong word here. But they’re certainly included.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or [email protected].