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The Pros and Cons of going “All-inclusive”

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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? 

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