All Inclusive – A dream come true
I’ll be honest, before I had the kids I always prided myself on being a traveller rather then a tourist. Doc and I would actively try our best to get a mix of hotels and cheaper places when visiting countries to get a real feel of the places we were visiting. I always booked our holidays separately and we used to go abroad 3/4 times a year so always tried to get the most for our money, sacrificing luxury for savings to use against another holiday. I was always the first to scorn and turn my nose up at people who visited new countries and went all inclusive or bought into a package deal. Fast forward to 2013, after a super hectic 12 months, we were all exhausted, and thought that moving around with the little adventurers and getting more exhausted on our sole holiday of the year, that we decided to give all inclusive a try. We booked the Concorde Hotel in Antalya (thats right, I like a lot of luxe when having only one holiday per year)
After returning from Antalya, I must admit I am an inclusive addict. I wouldn’t always want that kind of holiday but there are many things that all inclusive can offer travellers especially families.
Right, going all inclusive isn’t cheap. It is always worth noting what is actually included in your all inclusive package as each hotel offers different things so you don’t want to get caught out and face additional costs that you hadn’t factored in. Both all inclusives we stayed at were ultra all inclusive so literally all food and drink (including the mini bars) were included. However, once you have paid that initial cost of the holiday, you are pretty much sorted in terms of budget. Barring excursions and shopping, the majority of your costs that you normally pay once abroad have already been paid. I don’t drink alcohol but our hotels included most known UK alcoholic drinks and cocktails.
I’ll be honest, routine isn’t really my thing but i know it is an important part in many parents daily planning. I would recommend for parents and children who follow a routine at home that going away they should try and stick to a similar one whilst away. This helps younger children to adjust to the change in climate/food etc easier then it being a huge shock to the system with everything that they are used to being changed. Through an all inclusive, there are set meal times which usually coincides with timings at home. Having your meals planned for you helps remove the need of wondering what to eat every lunch, evening meal and where to eat. 9 of us went to Sharm el Sheikh in 2010 and thinking about what and where to eat in the stifling heat got very boring, fast. 1 week of fast food can take its toll.
My little adventurers are notorious for their awful eating habits (Doc would say they take after me, but thats another debate for another day!) In a way going all inclusive makes life a lot easier as you have a whole selection of items available at every meal time. These are great as you can usually find something to suit everyone’s tastes. In addition, the hotels I stayed at had loads of different snacks throughout the day so the children could usually find something else to have.
One of the problems with nice hotels is the extortionate costs for drinks and ice cream at the poolside. Visiting anywhere (outside of the UK) in the summer months you are usually guaranteed good weather and ice creams and drinks are part and parcel of these holidays. I remember visiting Dubai in 2003 and the cost of a tub of ice cream at the poolside was 35 dirhams (£7), multiple this by 5 people, its £35 a go for 5 ice creams. In comparison, an all inclusive resort means that you are able to have ice creams and drinks as and when required. One thing I loved was the amazing fruit options that were available, the watermelon and peaches were some of the most amazing and delicious ones that I have tasted.
Following on from the above, being able to get your own food (whether it be the treat items or other foods) does help to build the confidence of your children. By the end of the first all inclusive holiday, Maya was waltzing off and ordering her own drinks, asking for food etc. I noticed that even once she came home, it was a great boost for her confidence and now she doesn’t bat an eyelid when needing to ask waiters/shop keepers for help. This year, i noticed the same with Raihan and in a way, these type of holidays mean that you are more freer with your children and let them become more independent.
With all inclusive resorts they usually have a set evening entertainment planned out. The better hotels usually have a full days of entertainment too which are suitable for adults and children a like. The all inclusive resorts I have stayed at also had a daily mini disco, in the evening, where all the children were able to get up on stage and have a good boogie. It was lovely, especially that by the end of the vacation, the little adventurers knew some french, Spanish and Russian kids songs that they would never have listened to otherwise. The shows in the evening were fantastic and a lot of effort has been put into these.
Things that aren’t so great
Even though there were lots of options during meal times, most hotels offer things like chips, burgers etc at every meal time. Our hotel even had chips for breakfast. Once the kids have spotted these, it is often hard to get them to then eat the more healthier options.
Having the ice cream cart open from 10 – 5 each day can lead to a number of tantrums and strops if these aren’t monitored properly. Our adventurers were warned that they were only allowed an ice cream during the day and one in the evening. In addition, fizzy drinks were available all over the place (often right next to the water bottles) and you can get caught in that constatnt battle with the kids.
Our hotels had the most magnificent amount of desserts available at every meal time (I mean mouth wateringly tempting) I am a little lucky as my kids would prefer ice cream then a plateful of cakes but this again can lead to a few tears as the children can really play up to get their own way.
This is a personal one and will apply to all adults. Be warned you will put on loads of weight on all inclusive holidays, its even been written about in the Independent. Regardless of all the swimming and running around after the kids you do, you will a lot heavier on your return journey (I recommend slightly looser clothes for your return journey!)
I have to admit that I am an all inclusive convert and I am weighing whether to have an adventure holiday next summer or whether to book another all inclusive. I would recommend an all inclusive break to any families out there. Especially those with younger children.