If you happen to be vacationing in an all-inclusive resort, you will likely be given a non-removable wrist band that identifies you as a resort guest. It also identifies you as a “gullible tourist” if you leave the resort grounds. Those wrist bands broadcast information to a lot more folks than just the hotel staff.
If you are ever in a local market frequented by tourists, find a place to sit and watch the stall owners interact with the shoppers. You will notice that the first place they look when evaluating a customer is the customer’s wrist.
If they see an all-inclusive resort bracelet, they immediately know the person is not likely a local. It also means that the tourist probably isn’t as comfortable traveling as someone who might stay at a local hotel and procure his own meals and drinks.
The tourists wearing the bracelets will get approached more aggressively and at a more frequent rate. Prices will automatically be at least 20% higher than the prices quoted to a traveler who isn’t wearing a bracelet.
The shopkeepers can recognize the bracelet by the color and emblem. They will instantly know if you are staying in a luxury hotel or a cheaper resort. If they recognize the bracelet from the five-star resort where you are staying, your price for their goods just doubled.
Additionally, there are several scams locals use on tourists with all-inclusive bracelets. Scam artists use the bracelets as a topic of conversation and a way to approach the traveler. They use their resort knowledge as a way to build rapport with random travelers. You’ll see approaches that go something like this:
Approach #1– “Oh, I see that you are staying at XXX resort. That’s a beautiful place! How do you like it? I’ve stayed there several times in the past. Which is your favorite restaurant there?
You know, that hotel is actually my second favorite place to stay. Why don’t you take a walk with me and I’ll show you my new favorite place. You’ll be stunned at how much better it is than the place you are currently staying.”
Approach #2- “Hey! I recognize you guys! You are staying at the XXX resort. Do you remember me? I’m the person who cleaned your room yesterday. I was disappointed that you didn’t leave a bigger tip. Didn’t I do a good job? Are you too rich to care about the local people here?
Why don’t you make it up to me right now. I think $20 US would be a good apology gesture for being so greedy and insulting.”
Approach #3- “Oh, look at that! You’re staying at XXX resort. I recognized the bracelet. I worked as the tour guide coordinator for that resort for 15 years before starting my own guide business. I know the hotel’s excursion pricing. I know I can give you a better experience for cheaper. Would you be interested in booking a tour with me?”
If you are staying at a resort that uses bracelets as identifiers, ask them to place the bracelet around your ankle instead. That way you can cover it with pants or socks if you go into a nearby town. Some will accommodate that request and some will not.
If they refuse to put the bracelet on your ankle, put it on the same arm that you wear your watch. That way you can at least partially cover the bracelet with your watch band and make it less noticeable.
During my Mexican vacation a couple weeks ago, I stayed in an all-inclusive for convenience. They required guests wear the bracelet on a wrist. Take a look at the two photos below to see how I mostly hid the bracelet with my wristwatch whenever I left the resort for any reason.