More On All-Inclusive Resorts

Remember my recent trip to Marbella, courtesy of Mr. Apricot? Ever since then, I’ve been thinking more and more about all-inclusive resorts, and why people choose them over other types of vacations. Or, rather, wondering why, since no one seems to be able to give me the answer I seem to be looking for.

Of course, that is completely my fault: I’ve revealed my new obsession with all-inclusives only to fabulous gay Italian men, well-traveled English expats, and my mother. Not exactly a scientific sampling of the vacationing population. But, I’ll share my results with my cherished readers anyway.

Mr. Apricot loved the enforced relaxation policy of our vacation. “I go home to Roma and Napoli, everyone wants to see me. It makes me very tired, it’s not vacation for me. But here what do I have to do? We take sun, we eat, we drink on the balcony with sunset. This for me is vacation.”

My mother shares my love of lounging by the sea. “I don’t care where I am – give me a view of the sea, coffee, a crossword puzzle and my cigarettes, and I’m a happy camper.”

Fi, Our Lady of the Fantastic Lunches, had a bit more insight. “I think the English flock to Spain because they just want a bit of sun. They don’t go for the culture – they want a decent pub, their Sunday roast and a tan.”

While I haven’t spoken to her about this topic specifically, my aunt enjoys taking cruises around the world. It’s her thing. She and my uncle love it – the social elements, the service and, like her sister, the front-row view of the sea. The woman spends her entire working life in airports and on highways, so she revels in a vacation that has none of those elements.

I can wrap my head around these points of view. My parents love vacations, but they honestly don’t care where they go – they’ve been known to spend a weekend at a hotel (with a sea view, of course) at the other end of our hometown. If I had to put up with dreary London skies, I’d be on the next flight to the Costa del Sol, too. Cal and I head straight to the Hard Rock whenever we’re in Barcelona to fill up on American yum-yums.

What I don’t get are the families who travel thousands of miles at great expense to have the same exact experience as they would much closer to home, and think they’ve seen the world.

I understand the need for creature comforts while away from home, especially when traveling with children. But for just a week, why not eat dinner later, after the sun sets, and while you’re at it, try a new taste? Why not experience the thrill of making yourself understood in a foreign language? How can you put your own life into context if you never see how others live?

Everyone I saw at the resort was having a wonderful time, so it’s not my place to tell them what they should be doing with their vacation. I simply felt badly they think that is what Spain is like, and I wish they would feel more comfortable being out of their comfort zone, even for a few days.

If I may end on a snarky note, because I can’t resist:

Dear loud guy who joined us in the jacuzzi around 7PM,

While you did in fact leave the continent of Europe and go to the continent of Africa, taking a four-hour group tour to the market in Tangiers to buy an overpriced rug from the first vendor you see does not entitle you to say, “I can cross Africa off my list now, I’ve done it.”

6 thoughts on “More On All-Inclusive Resorts

  1. I think most Americans share your mother’s attitude, although most Americans also (unlike her, I would assume) don’t really know where they are if they’re too far from home. I began to realize this when I saw the first all-inclusives in Jamaica start popping up: really, not a hell of a lot different from anywhere else, except a tame reggae band comes in to entertain a couple times a week. The most important thing is, no one leaves, either: there are big walls and barbed wire to keep the outsiders out and protect the people who’re trapped inside.

    Many, many Americans are scared of foreign countries. They don’t want to know about them. So living in one of these insulated cocoons gives them the benefit (lovely beach, great sunset, great weather) without the downside (interacting with the locals and their odd foodstuffs and, most especially, their poverty).

    But for the all-inclusive, you can blame the French: see Club Med.

  2. I believe most Americans like all inclusives for ONE reason and only one reason….they think it equates to drink yourself numb! Of course, there are also the few who truly just want to get away and relax…not sightsee or experience culture, etc., but just do absolutely nothing! Let’s face it…different strokes for different folks.

  3. Ed: Since my mom has lived half her life on the sea, when she goes to a different sea, she enjoys all the little differences – in the sea itself, how the local culture relates to and lives near the sea, etc. I think you’re right in that a lot of people are like that – they know they’re not having a full-immersion experience, but they notice things that are different and appreciate them.

    Lee: The all-inclusives I’ve been too have been mercifully devoid of the kind of spring-break mentality of getting trashed. But, yes, so many of them are all about “you’re locked in, so drink all you want!” and I say, awesome – because they’re locked away from the general population! LOL The one in Marbella I went to was very relaxed and family oriented, so it was dead quiet by 10PM.

  4. i can only take an all inclusive for a very short time. like you said, its like being locked up, and the food gets very tired very soon. but a cruise on the other hand, in my opinion, is the best way to see a lot of places and not having to leave your hotel. waking up in a different culture every morning is abFab!!
    of course the alcohol is much more expensive, but i am not a drinker. and who doesnt love a midnight buffet!!!

  5. Three memories of travelers:

    1. While visiting the magnificent cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, a tourist mom, walking with her young children, pointed up to one of the dwellings and said to her children, “The people who lived there didn’t have bathrooms, or TV’s or anything!” To which her kids said “Ewww!”

    2. In the amazing world of “RV’ers,” I saw enthusiasts with every piece of home imaginable jammed into the vehicle, and “camp” consisting of microwaves, TV’s, and many electrical entertainment gadgets, with little interest in exploring the world outside the camp site.

    3. Once, my mother (a.k.a. your mother’s mother) came back from a cruise with her sisters and shared that on an island stop in the Carribean, she saw a painting of a Black man grimacing, and struggling to free himself of chains. She thought “Oh, my God, that’s how these people see us, as the ones who did this to them,” and she said she didn’t want to take any more trips there, from how bad it made her feel.

    Whatever folks find is “vacation” for them is fine with me, but I do feel people sometimes miss out on appreciating what is “there” in basically prefering to move the comforts of their home cocoon from point “A” to point “B.” Maybe it’s a sense of security to keep oneself surrounded by the familiar, even while away. I dunno.

    As for all inclusives, the friends I know who prefer them, appreciate the chance to turn their brains off, and not have to think about the details of their trip.

  6. all-inclusive
    I like them cause they are EASY… sometime you just want to go and RELAX and I mean really relax– not think about where you are going to eat or how to get to x y or z. Sometimes you want to go to ONE place and not have to leave it. That is why I like them. I did not think I would have liked them a few years ago, but… my work had a great deal at one and I was traveling alone and “did not want to bother”… and I loved it. (The place I went also included scuba diving- so that helped a lot)

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