All Inclusive holidays. For some the idea of luxury; for others they couldn’t think of anything worse.
Having spent a week in Lanzarote at the Elba Lanzarote Royal Village Resort (which is a great place to stay, I’d recommend it) on an All Inclusive package I can now see why many holidaymakers like to fly and then flop.
That is to fly to a destination on a package break, lie on a sun lounger and do absolutely nothing for a whole week (well, apart from lifting the odd cocktail to your lips, the odd occasional swim and eating your body weight in food).
I’m not 100% sure whether fly and flop is for me. Firstly you end up seeing the same people for breakfast, for lunch, by the pool, at dinner. And secondly it does get repetitive; you almost get sucked into a bubble in your resort where the outside world is a blur.
Also, you almost lose the sense of exploration and adventure that is felt when visiting a new city or place. That feeling where you wander aimlessly but often stumble across some hidden gems as a result of your lack of direction and purpose.
And there’s no getting lost in a hotel resort when absolutely everything is signposted!
So are you thinking of an All Inclusive holiday?
Well let me help you make a decision by reviewing my top 5 reasons to go and not to go on an All Inclusive break.
1. Food! Glorious Food! Prepare to put on weight on an All Inclusive break. I love a good buffet and having been to Las Vegas last year I know a good buffet when I see one. I think an All Inclusive buffet steps, dare I say, up from Vegas because you can have buffet breakfast, lunch AND dinner. Where else can you have pasta among paella and bacon eggs followed by a chocolate brioche?
2. Not having to carry around money. Having been away on a holiday with my partner it can get irritating to always have to work out how much of the bill we each need to pay. Then there’s the dilemma of constantly keeping track of how much of your funds are left. With an All Inclusive break you only have to flash that wristband, make your order and enjoy. Simple.
3. Feeling safe. I’ve travelled to places like Thailand and Brazil before and there is something a bit nerve wracking about flying and navigating your way around a foreign and far-flung country. With an All Inclusive package holiday you are taken care of, from the minute you step off the flight to the minute you board the coach back to the airport.
4. Drinks. ‘If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain’… then truthfully you might need an umbrella because you may catch a chill! But in all seriousness, pina coladas were one of the highlights of my holiday. Being All Inclusive they were of course unlimited and could be, to some extent, ‘free’ if you drunk enough of them (NB: divide cost of holiday by number of pina coladas drunk to see how you score. If the figure is higher than the cost of the holiday per person, then you’ve really done your holiday right. And also may be in A&E awaiting a new liver).
5. Activities. There’s no need to step a foot out of the complex if you don’t want to and an All Inclusive holiday is the chance to try new things. Most large All Inclusive hotels arrange an ‘animation programme’, where they arrange activities like water aerobics, Zumba, archery and football. We rented out the tennis court twice during our stay and had great fun so you don’t have to lounge about all day if it doesn’t suit you.
1. Familiar faces. When you’re living, sunbathing, drinking and eating within the same complex you’re bound to see the same people. Again. And again. We overheard a couple on the plane saying they were going to our resort and we always seemed to be seated near them at dinner. I like to people watch but it’s hard to exercise that hobby when the people don’t change!
2. Screaming kids. If you go to an adults only hotel then this will obviously not be a problem but All Inclusive does attract families because of the ease and convenience. Whilst our hotel did have an adults only pool and restaurant we preferred the choice of food in the main buffet and in order to get this variety you need to endure kids running around and making lots of noise. One poor kid was all alone at the pancake station and I ended up serving her a pancake because she couldn’t use the tongs. I don’t hate kids but I don’t really want to have to be getting involved with babysitting on my holiday!
3. Varying entertainment. Whilst the activities are a plus point (point 5 above), the entertainment in All Inclusive complexes can be cheesy and of a poor quality. If you don’t like tribute acts, circus shows and kids discos and are hoping for something to keep you occupied in the evening, then it may not be for you. I missed wandering around a town looking at the bars and actually being able to make a choice, rather than only having the option of whatever is on that night.
4. Routine. There’s not really any room for spontaneity in an All Inclusive hotel. Dinners are set times and it can sometimes feel a bit regimented. If you like to have a fry up at 1pm in the afternoon because when you’re on holiday you deserve whatever your heart desires, then perhaps stick to that self catering break.
5. Cabin fever. Whilst the hotel resort is likely to be large, you do feel a bit caged in as all of your waking minutes are spent in one area. Some people like to hire a car on holiday but there’s not really point doing this on an All Inclusive break because you’d miss out on the lunch and drinks you’ve paid for.
Do you prefer All Inclusive or Self Catering? Let me know in the comments below!