Three in ten holidaymakers heading abroad this year will be opting for an all-inclusive package, but are they really getting a better deal than if they’d organised it themselves?
When it comes to holidays, I’m firmly in the DIY camp. I’ll decide on my destination, pick up a guidebook, ask for recommendations from people who’ve been and start planning a loose itinerary.
I’ll then research accommodation options (usually B&B or self-catering), book direct or through a booking site and keep my fingers crossed that it lives up to expectations when I get there. More often than not, it does – as do the eateries and excursions I’ve been recommended.
Of course, I can see the appeal of all-inclusive holidays, where all your drinks and meals are included – especially if you’re travelling with a young family or all you want to do is catch a few rays on a sun lounger followed by a few sundowners.
But having been on two such holidays in the past, I know I prefer the freedom that comes with not being tied to a hotel or resort so I can get out and explore.
Neither of my all-inclusive experiences was terrible. My first was in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh – a perfectly nice hotel with a lovely pool and clean rooms. It was just let down by the buffet food on offer, which led to us getting taxis into town so we could eat something other than chicken kebabs and hummus. We also ended up with a massive bar bill as the package didn’t include wine.
My second was on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, which boasted a plethora of eateries and bars, three pools and a spa, and even laid on daily activities. It just didn’t offer any of the culture we were hoping to experience, so we ended up spending more on escaping the hotel confines.
Now, I’m wondering if I’d get a cheaper deal if I cast aside my prejudices and went for all-inclusive over putting together my own trip.
Well, it seems that would depend on my destination. In the Caribbean, where there is a long-established all-inclusive tradition, choosing a package over DIY would be a no-brainer.
I’d also be better off going with an all-inclusive package in Spain, especially Majorca, where a packaged deal works out more than £200 cheaper than going it alone.
But it isn’t the case everywhere – recent analysis by Post Office Travel Money found that in nine out of ten popular European destinations, holidaymakers who opt for B&B and eat out end up spending less than those in all-inclusive resorts.
In a poll of 2,081 UK adults, 82% said they paid out extra for meals, drinks and other items in their all-inclusive hotel, at an average cost of £139.31 each. Even more spent money on meals, snacks and drinks away from their hotel.
The research also found that the biggest savings to be had this summer are in Turkey, where an all-inclusive week in Marmaris for a family of four costs £1,208 more than going B&B and eating out in local restaurants.
Guess there will be quite a few others in my DIY camp this year, then.
What’s your holiday preference? All-inclusive or DIY?