More Brits are opting for holidays where all their meals, drinks and activities are included in the overall price. Saving money may well be the main reason, so are you tempted by an all-inclusive?
There’s every sign that all-inclusives are all the rage now. From this summer, every First Choice holiday is on an all-inclusive (AI) basis only, while our latest survey of travel companies confirms the trend, showing that more Which? members chose all-inclusive holidays than self-catering or B&B.
If you’re looking for a package holiday, there are some destinations, such as the Maldives, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, where you haven’t got much of a choice other than going AI. But even in Spain, where all types of board are common, half of those on a package trip in the past five years chose an AI holiday.
The attractions of all-inclusives
So what is it that’s attracting people to these types of packages? I’m preparing an article for Which? Travel magazine and am keen to find out. Is it simply because they’re seen as good value for money and an easier way to fix a set travel budget?
AI hotels can appeal for other reasons. The hotel complex probably has such wide-ranging facilities and activities – especially for families – that you can stay there day in, day out without getting bored. As you’ve pre-paid for virtually everything, there’s no need to take out much local cash. Perhaps you want to avoid known safety risks in the outside local area or are turned off by the idea of the local food.
My friends have just returned from an AI holiday in Turkey. They chose it because, having done their sums before booking, AI did work out cheaper, and they preferred knowing up front how much the whole holiday experience would cost.
Trapped in a tourist bubble
But the AI experience doesn’t easily lend itself to local cultural interaction.
Organisations such as Tourism Concern have highlighted the negative effects of all-inclusives, such as profits flowing to international hotel chains and operators, rather than the local population – who are often in poorer countries.
Having been to a few gated all-inclusives, often not within walking distance of the nearest town, I’m not a big fan. I’ve been in a tourist bubble, tagged with a wristband and gorging on bland, international food. I prefer to get my teeth into the local food and culture. At least First Choice has recently said it is considering ‘dine-around’ packages, enabling customers to eat and drink at certain local town restaurants.
Have you booked to go on an AI holiday this year, or have you already been on one? What made you choose an all-inclusive?
Or if you’d consider going on one in the future, what kind of information would you want before choosing a suitable all-inclusive hotel, destination or tour operator?
Holidays - how do you like yours?
It depends on where I'm going (33%, 71 Votes)
Self-catered - I like to do it all myself (27%, 59 Votes)
All-inclusive - with everything provided (21%, 46 Votes)
Bed and breakfast - a bit of pampering, a bit of independence (18%, 39 Votes)
Total Voters: 215