"The menu was designed around local fresh fish and produced with healthy eating in mind. It was not a buffet and the chef would prepare what you requested," said Ross, a sociologist who teaches at California University of Pennsylvania.
Not thinking is not an option
Fail to do your research about what's included (or not) at a particular resort and you're more likely to get stuck with food that doesn't satisfy, too-cheap alcohol, cheesy staff entertainment or high prices for off-site excursions. You might even show up during hurricane season or the colder time of year.
Some resorts have local brews as part of their included alcohol but charge extra for top-shelf brands, if they carry them at all. Resort restaurants -- and the number and quality varies from resort to resort -- may have restrictions on how many nights you can reserve a table at their swankier spots. The fancier the resort, the more likely it is to carry higher-end brands and serve higher-end food, and include them in the price.
Minnesota-based Butruff sends lots of cold-weather clients to warm-weather resorts. Couples often come into her office with completely different ideas about what they want on vacation, so she quizzes them.
"What do you want to do on vacation?" she says. "What types of hotels have you already stayed in? What types of adventures have you had?"
"Often what they want is not what they've said they want."
It's not all drunken parties (unless you want it to be)
All-inclusive alcoholic drinks are part of the appeal. But you can choose a resort that focuses on lots of drinking way into the night or one that shuts down the bars at 8 p.m. Some resorts keeps the intensive drinking segregated to the resort bar or elsewhere.
The more upscale resorts will be a little quieter, says D'Arcy, although their clientele aren't necessarily limiting their drinking. "I have seen people who are very drunk but expertly handled by the staff."
The drinking doesn't bother Melissa McCloud.
"As far as the sometimes crazy party scene, if that is not your thing, go hang out elsewhere on the resort," says McCloud, a stay-at-home mom from Bolingbrook, Ill., who visits all-inclusive resorts once or twice per year. "These all-inclusives are usually huge places, and there are plenty of places to go and things to do that do not involve that!"
It doesn't mean you're dull
It's true that some people just want to chill out on vacation, sitting by the pool or beach with free-flowing fruity drinks. There's nothing wrong with that, especially when there's an Arctic tundra at home.
But you don't have to stay within the walls. Step out and explore local food and culture, swim with the dolphins and do zip lining for a fee. (Look for resort credits to fund those excursions.) If you want that local flavor, choose a resort that's not miles and miles from the closest towns and attractions.
Some people want a specific sense of community that all-inclusives can provide, whether it's a focus on hedonism, romance, LGBT families or sobriety.
Sober Vacations International has taken over Club Med Turquoise in the Turks & Caicos the week ending Feb. 8, 2014. Reserving the resort allows people in recovery to vacation with the support of other people trying to stay sober.
There's no need to be so snide
And be wary, you hip, do-it-yourself critics of the all-inclusive resort. Right now you're backpacking through Latin America, jumping off trains in Eastern Europe when you hear about a cool new art installation, or strolling through Tokyo to track down the latest underground bar.
Now put a baby in your Ergo baby carrier.
Not so cool anymore, right? A few years from now, you may be partnered with kids in diapers, says Lonely Planet's Hall. Cool is less important than a full night's sleep, teaching your daughter to swim or holding your spouse's hand as you watch the sunset.
"An all-inclusive may be the way to go," he says.
Maybe you'll even want to bring the grandparents.