Q: I recently booked a room at Barcelo, an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When I made the reservation, it listed breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the rate. But when I read the confirmation, it said only breakfast was included.
I was booking an all-inclusive hotel stay, and I was worried that I might pay for lunch and dinner. I tried to contact Priceline, but it didn’t answer the food question. Can you help – Michael O’Connor, Toronto
A: You are booking an all-inclusive resort, so your stay should be all-inclusive-breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I tried making a reservation at Barcelo, too. Priceline lists it as all-inclusive and announces all three meals as part of the room rate. But if 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 at your hotel. If you do that, you can skip Barcelo and go to another hotel where the terms are clearer.
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I checked the Barcelo site and was also confused. The property describes itself as an “all-inclusive” resort, which means all meals must be included. But your confirmation clearly says that only breakfast is included.
This is probably a good time to ask: What’s so great about a resort that it has it all? It’s not just the money you 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 can 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 promises you an all-inclusive experience, which is then lost. I think you can reach out to a Priceline executive for clarification. I have listed the names, numbers and email addresses of Priceline executives on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/priceline/.
I contacted Priceline on your behalf. The company reaches your hotel, confirming that your rate is inclusive. “Breakfast, lunch and dinner are free,” the representative added.
OK, “free” is probably the wrong word here. But they are definitely involved.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at [email protected]