Over many years I have spoken with many holidaymakers about their holidays, the most popular of which is the All-Inclusive Holiday. This type of holiday has once again come into its own, partly because of economic-climate reasons and in the case of the UK, partly because of Brexit. Consumers are looking for value, trying to make sure that their hard stretched £ delivers a valuable holiday product. This is the time of year when thoughts of the next summer lead to choices and the promise of a great getaway; here are my 10 top tips for getting that choice right:
- The first thing to consider is the destination. You need to ask: how far away is it, could I endure the flight time without a seat upgrade and more importantly, is this choice likely to sit outside my comfort zone? Asking these basic questions will help in making that choice.
- Another equally important question concerns weather patterns at your destination. For example, will you be travelling during their hurricane or cyclone season? Before you make any choice, check out the weather and do not simply rely on the ‘temperature chart’ in your brochure! This is a vital piece of research, particularly if you are choosing a long-haul All-Inclusive destination.
- For those who do not want to travel long-haul, equal care must be taken when choosing that European All-Inclusive. Examination of travel company brochures will demonstrate that whatever your destination, there are many types of all-inclusive, for example, families, couples only, luxury, budget and so on. Failing to read that detail could land you in a resort that does not suit your needs.
- Always check what they mean by All-inclusive; what will you get for your money and check out the number of available restaurants; are there too few for the size of the hotel - would the experience seem too factory-like?
- When checking the detail of your intended All-Inclusive, take care if you are simply looking at traditional package holiday providers. A comparison of tour operators and scheduled airlines can reveal surprising issues, for example, the basic cost of the holiday may be greater with a tour operator, then you have to factor in seat reservations, a greater baggage limit and other bolt-ons. A scheduled airline can produce a competitive basic price along with lower seat reservation costs and an included baggage allowance; they also sometimes add in free entrances or upgrades!
- When on holiday, think about the water! Always choose or request a sealed bottle of water and avoid ‘water-coolers’. Do not be tempted by staff who tell you that it only has a high ‘mineral content’ or being told that the water is ‘pure’; your health is more important!
- Food has always been a big issue with holidaymakers. If you find that food is undercooked, you should ask yourself is; ‘would I eat this at home’; always bring it to the attention of the staff? Gluttony can be a factor that leads to a lack of well-being; just because you are on holiday does not mean that you have to eat your entire family’s bodyweight at each sitting! Not only is it bad for your health but it just doesn’t look good!
- Sometimes, room descriptions do not match the reality; complaints I have heard relate to broken toilets, noisy air-conditioning, bugs and broken room equipment. If these affect your experience, raise them with the reception or your representative. If matters are not resolved then advise the hotel that you will speak immediately with the tour company, the local Ministry of Tourism and post on social networks that day! Always be polite but firm; bluster never takes the place of a quiet determination!
- Many people complain about entertainment packages. Some of the complaints refer to the inappropriate shows they have experienced, poor standards, drinking games or ‘thumpy-thumpy’ music! It is not obligatory to experience these or take part. It really does come down to how you research your destination! These resorts offer as much solitude or entertainment as you want, the trick is to do that research before you go and create the space that you want around you in the evenings. Even if research is not possible before you go, you should be able to quickly establish the ‘quiet-zones’ in your hotel or resort!
- Finally, if you are anything like me, you might find the confines of an all-inclusive will eventually lead to cabin-fever! The solution is to get out; take that bus to the local town, go on a tour. I like to see the real country wherever I go, so I will travel independently or find an eco/sustainable travel company to take me somewhere unusual. This is an important aspect of an All-Inclusive holiday, because you are cocooned in a resort and very often will not see the outside world. I would encourage you to step outside the hotel and travel company tours; invest in that eco/sustainable tour and in turn you will be helping local people and their economy; try the adventure, you’ll be surprised!
With planning, determination and managing expectations, this type of holiday can deliver so much more than you can imagine!