/ Travel & Leisure

All-inclusive holidays – love them or loathe them?

Girl sat in rubber ring in swimming pool

Next summer, all First Choice holidays will become all inclusive. Our research proves they’re popular, but are they better quality or value? And are you attracted to the idea of eating all your meals in the same resort?

Two years ago when we asked travellers about their travel frustrations, some of the biggest issues were the hidden charges that bumped up the price of the holiday and the costs of things in the destination.

Holiday companies have got savvy to this and now offer more all-inclusive holidays than ever before. And research that Which? Travel has just conducted with over 10,000 members of the public across Britain shows that over one quarter of all the holidays taken in the past 18 months have been on all-inclusive basis.

First Choice goes all inclusive

TUI Travel has just announced that its First Choice brand will only sell all-inclusive holidays from summer 2012. Having the whole holiday paid for in advance is clearly very tempting for a lot of people, and dedicating an entire brand to this shows that TUI clearly believes there’s further growth in this area.

But is it really cost effective? Choosing the all-inclusive option over half board may be best if you want to take full advantage of the food, snacks, drink and activities on offer.

Do all-inclusive holidays work out cheaper?

When we recently looked at hotels that offered both all-inclusive and half board options in Tenerife, we found that – unless you were going to spend almost £50 per couple per day on lunch, snacks and drinks – half board was the better option. Plus, you had much the same access to food and facilities.

Interestingly, in terms of value for money, there is clearly divided opinion. In our research, more people rated their all-inclusive holidays as excellent or good value for money overall compared to any other type of board. However, there were also more stating that it was either poor or very poor.

Personally, I generally prefer to have the opportunity to taste different foods, meet local people and experience the culture. Still, I can see the appeal of a lazy week in a resort to just kick-back and relax. What’s your view on all inclusives – do you love them or hate them?

Do you ever go on all-inclusive holidays?

No, never – I can't stand the idea (56%, 219 Votes)

Occasionally, it depends on my mood (30%, 118 Votes)

Yes, all the time – they're great (13%, 52 Votes)

Total Voters: 389

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My last holiday was not all inclusive, but almost all lunches and dinners were either included in the holiday price or on an organised ‘optional excursion’ basis. But…and this is the important bit – the meals were rarely in the hotel and usually at local restaurants and other town-centre eateries.

Result: controllable costs, genuine local cooking, no eating/drinking to excess!


Over the last few years my main holiday has been long haul and all inclusive. Main advantage is convenience. Some resorts there are few decent places to eat locally and hotels are usually very good. I can budget accurately and often spend very little outside. Remember though, this has a downside for the local economy.


It depends on the holiday – I usually want to hike and explore the country at my own pace – changing my immediate destination on a whim – either cook my own meals ‘in the wild’ – or stop to eat where I fancy. I have travelled extensively – except China and India.

All inclusive holidays are usually too restrictive for me – Only ever had one overly expensive meal (all the restaurants or cafes seem to usually display the costs ) that was in Paris – where they had a displayed costed menu for locals – but did not make it clear it was only from 12 to 2 and we ordered at 2:03.. It was however delicious!

But If I’m going to stay in one place – I’ll take an all inclusive holiday but perfectly happy to eat somewhere I fancy and forego the paid for meal.

Ray Monk says:
10 April 2011

All inclusive is great for families ,but i think too restrictive for older couples .In the long term ,if all tour operators went all inclusive i think it would kill the resorts and be left with hotels and no bars or resturants


Tend to agree if you think only of resorts. For out of the way places it is likely to open them up more.

Steven says:
12 April 2011

Our last trip was not AI as this was New York, LOTS to see and do, with very little time spent in our hotel. Prior to that our last four or five holidays (Jamaica, Mexico and Egypt) were AI and have all been superb.

AI makes sense if you’re looking to stay in a large resort and are after a relaxing holiday. If you’re planning to be out of the hotel ‘seeing the sites’ then AI’s not really appropriate.


We like the all inclusive style of cruising or adventure cruising. Or for instance train touring. If you are going to out of the way places (which we do and like) then you do not have the bother of searching for eateries and dealing with currencies and tipping etc. I hate having to get to a place at night then go looking for an eatery which you do not know and may turn out to be a disaster. If the operator has booked the places and you trust them then it takes all that bother away. I would not go to a resort in Spain say on the same all inclusive basis. But then I do not see myself going on that type of holiday at all. Did that many years ago.

Bill says:
15 April 2011

We have been on two all-inclusive holidays and they were excellent, very relaxing and great fun. You do tend to eat too much though and probably drink too much too! It’s good to not have to think about costs while you are on holiday.

John says:
15 April 2011

I can see why many like AI but it’s not for me. I like to get out & about when I go on holiday & ,because I’m a light drinker, AI is an expensive option.
I bet First Choice love it though. AI means they get the lions share of their customers total holiday spend & they get it “up front”. A sizeable deposit up to a year before the holiday happens then the balance around 8 weeks before. I wonder when they pay the hotelier?