We’ve taken all kinds of holidays, from camping to city breaks, basic hotels to luxury resorts, self catering, half board, full board and all inclusive. We’ve enjoyed all of these experiences, as we’re the kind of people who see each holiday as a new and exciting adventure. We look to see the good points everywhere we go, and will only complain if something is totally unacceptable, as we realise that each country and culture has their own way of doing things. Just because it’s unfamiliar, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
All inclusive holidays have many bonuses, and we thoroughly enjoyed our all inclusive break to Lake Como in Italy. All inclusive is great if you want a complete chill out to recharge your batteries. It’s also a good option for those on a strict budget, as you know you won’t have to find extra money for food. All you need is a little spending money for shopping and excursions. If you have a large, hungry young family, all inclusive can save you a lot of money in drinks and ice creams. Another bonus is that your kids can try new, unfamiliar foods, and if little Johnny doesn’t like anchovies, it hasn’t cost you a fortune to find out. So all inclusive can be a great holiday option for many families, but it’s not really for me.
All inclusive can tie you to your resort if you’re the type of person who considers that if you’ve paid for all inclusive, it’s a waste of money not to be on hand for every meal and snack. If you go on an excursion, the hotel will usually provide a packed lunch, but these are invariably basic and fill a gap rather than stimulate an appetite. There’s also a real danger that you will binge on both alcohol and food, because it’s there whenever you want it and it’s ‘free.’ You’re likely to return from your holiday feeling sluggish and overweight, rather than fit and refreshed.
For me, though, the real reason why I won’t go all inclusive again, unless I win a holiday in one of my competitions, is cultural. I love discovering little restaurants tucked away in back streets. You get the most wonderful and unusual food at ridiculously low prices. Pick a restaurant or bar full of locals, and you’ll be caught up in the atmosphere, even if you don’t understand a word of the language. Hotel food may make a token effort towards local cuisine, but they have to feed (and please)several nationalities at the same time, so you’re likely to get everything with chips, and watered-down versions of local delicacies. As it’s all inclusive, many of the better ingredients, such as seafood and tender steaks, are unlikely to feature on the menu. With all inclusive, the food is similar the world over, and you’ll miss out on the chance to explore the distinctive tastes of your particular holiday region.
We always go self catering, but I’m not chained to the kitchen sink. We raid local supermarkets for something a bit different for breakfast, picnics and barbecues on the beach and late night snacks. Supermarket shopping at home is a chore, but on holiday it’s a cultural experience. Every evening, we go off and find a nice restaurant for our main meal of the day. We’ve never had a bad meal, because we avoid the ‘tourist traps’ on the promenade or the main streets. Instead, we eat where the locals eat.
We eat where we want and when we want, which is imposible in a hotel which has to feed hundreds. There may be a two hour service span, but what if you’re not ready to eat in that time frame? You eat for the sake of it, which is far inferior to eating when you’re hungry and ready to relish the flavours of your holiday home. All inclusive may be the choice of many, but it’s not for me.