The Pros and Cons of going “All-inclusive”

Holidays come in all shapes and sizes. We can take a weekend break or a month long vacation. We can stay close to home or travel long haul. Some of us travel for sunshine, others for snow. I thought I had tried all there was to try, but there was one thing missing in my repertoire and that was the All-inclusive beach holiday. Reserved by many for their honeymoon, the All-inclusive holiday is quite a different beast, to the many other trips that have come before it. I had done hotels, hostels, campsites, slept on trains, boats, in airports and once even in a military hangar, but I had never been to an All-inclusive resort.
I wanted to know what the fuss was about, and I don’t know, maybe something about turning thirty next month, made me spontaneously book a week in Cancun, Mexico, with my friend Shelly in tow. It was an extravagance I’ll admit, but for the first time in my life I went All-inclusive and true to my style, I decided to weigh up the pros and cons for you.
Meet Shelly 🙂
 
Pro
You don’t have to leave the resort
So following a ten hour flight and taking into consideration the dead heat and humidity, it’s possible that you don’t want to go exploring the town, looking for restaurants to eat in and trying to find out which place is least likely to give you food poisoning. Maybe you just want a quiet break where everything you need from drinks, to food, to entertainment is at your fingertips. Basically you can just lie, and be served. Excellent!
 
Con
You don’t want to leave the resort
The only problem with having everything you need handed to you on a plate (literally), is that you are less likely to want to go exploring. This goes against everything I stand for as a traveller. Yes you might be eating Mexican food and watching a performance of traditional dancers, but are you actually seeing the real Mexico? I am completely guilty of feeling some days that I just didn’t want leave. Why would I go outside and actually pay for food and drink, when I had all this for free? If I had given in to this very strong urge, I would never have seen anything of the country I had travelled to see and would have traded in my sense of adventure for safe luxury.
Getting into the Spirit
Pro
It’s All you can eat. All day long.
Amazing. I could literally try any type of food I wanted at any time that I felt hungry. If we felt like eating at different times, that was fine too. There was certain flexibility about this and I loved filling my plate with all of the amazing Mexican delicacies such as Tacos, Tamales, Fajitas and Nachos…. So many nachos! There were 5 different restaurants on site, almost a different one for every night of the week, so repetition was never an issue, nor was hunger for that matter.
Churros – to die for!
 
Con
It’s All you can Eat. All day Long.
Yep. A dieters nightmare. As much as I loved gorging on all of the amazing food, my waistline begged to differ. It was all fun and games lying on a sun lounger eating nachos and ordering steak to your room at 3 am (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!) but not so much fun on the last night when you’re having a hissy fit because your little black dress is too tight. EUGH!
Just too much food….
 
Pro
It’s All you can Drink. All day and All night.
That’s right. Champagne for breakfast? No problem. Margaritas at lunch? Bring it on!!! Tequila till you get sick…….. You see where I’m going with this!
Oh dear…..
 
Con
It’s All you can Drink. All day and All night.
The temptation of being drunk every day for a week was too much for some of our fellow hotel guests and look I’m not going to advocate for this. Know the one that’s one too many and all that!
You get the idea……
 
Pro
You will never run out of money
It has happened to some of us that we have been away from home and something terrible has happened. We’ve had our purse stolen or our bank cards scammed. All kidding aside, I did like the security of being in a resort knowing that if anything happened at least I would be fed and watered for the week.
 
Con
The tipping and the guilt
While enjoying the luxury of my All-inclusive resort, safe in the knowledge that I had worked hard to pay for this well-earned break, I did spare a thought for the staff of the resort and felt a tinge of guilt. When we spoke to some of the staff we learned that they earned just $4 a day and made up the rest of their money on tips. This meant a need to tip for basically everything and in some cases a lot of pressure to do so. For example on our last day our cleaning lady entered our room even though we had a “Do not disturb” sign displaying to collect a tip and the woman in the gift shop actively asking if she could keep some of our change as a tip!!
 
The bottom line
My bottom line on All-inclusive is that I very much enjoyed the experience. I came home feeling rested and relaxed, unlike some of my trips where I need a break after my holiday! It was lovely to have the security and the peace of mind that came with the resort.

 

On the other hand, I don’t think I will be getting too used to it. As amazing as it was, I still feel the uncontrollable urge to move from hostel to guesthouse in search of the more genuine experiences, to eat local street food and to walk through cities until blisters form. Maybe there are more All-inclusive resorts in my future, but then again, maybe thirty isn’t that old after all?

11 comments

  1. This is a very interesting post to read from someone who has “gone the other way” i.e from backpacker to experimenting with All Inclusives. My hubby and I enjoyed AI's for 9 years and yes, we knew we weren't getting the real experience of a country and oh my, didn't our waists grow within that week/2 weeks!! Then we stayed at a backpackers in Borneo and it changed us completely, to the point where we stayed in an AI when renewing our wedding vows and we didn't feel comfortable anymore, we totally felt out of place and realised this wasn't us anymore. So now, we are about to become backpackers again and I cannot wait! So for your experiment, I think it's definitely worth trying and this is a great post 🙂

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  2. I have never been all inclusive and although I can definitely see the attraction I think it would stop me exploring, which for me is what the trip is about. Nice all around analysis!

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  3. The All Inclusive type of vacation is good and can be indulged in once in a while. In fact probably we all deserve it 🙂 But we need to get back to our old ways and to the excitement of the unknown while traveling.

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  4. I'd love to do an all inclusive holiday and i think it's ideal to do in a place like mexico where it's beautiful, but also dangerous! I think I'd definitely try to get out and go to markets and the likes though. By the way I laughed at every con- all you can eat can be a blessing and a curse.

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  5. Very interesting post! I've tried all-inclusive before and liked it, but next time I'm travelling abroad I'd like to try it without AI so I can experience more sightseeing and see what the other restaurants are like.

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  6. I have yet to go to an all-inclusive resort, besides a day one during a cruise. The pros are pulling me, and maybe now that I’m aware I’ll be able to handle the cons more effectively. I’ll be sure to bring lots of smaller bills for tipping, especially if they do a great job!

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