Last week in Not so inclusive holidays, we looked at The Post Office Travel's findings on the value of all-inclusive holidays. The results pointed to people's expectations not being met by the fairly basic all-inclusive formula offered by most resorts. This week we explore why organising a holiday outside of the all-inclusive concept is bot only of better quality, but is also cheaper. We compare an all-inclusive deal with an independently-organised holiday in Lanzarote and in the Algarve to reveal why the all-inclusive holiday is fast becoming outdated.
As part of past travel assignments, I have had to stay at a number of resort hotels and therefore have had the opportunity to experience the 'joys' of the all-inclusive holiday. Some resorts are a lot better than others, so if you are determined to go all-inclusive, then it's worth shopping around and having a look at previous reviews either on our site or on other hotel reviewing websites before choosing. Having seen over 150 hotels in the last two years, from five-star luxury hideaways in the Maldives to some of the worst oversized grassless resorts in Sharm el Sheikh, the conclusion is that even for an average-sized family of four, organising a holiday independently not only ensures a better quality holiday all round, but it also saves more money than going all-inclusive.
The prices of some all-inclusive deals are very appealing, but what you get for your money in reality isn't very much. In a lot of cases the worst of the resorts offer watered-down beer, fatty defrosted foods out of which any nutritional value has been boiled or fried, and bottomless vats of non-descript sugary fizzy drinks. The juices at breakfast are usually made from the cheapest squash concentrate around, high in sugar and low in vitamins, and there are rarely any healthy options unless you count a few peaky-looking lettuce leaves and hard tasteless tomatoes at the 'salad bar'. Low quality resorts have very little variation in the food served day-to-day, but worst of all, you spend a long time queuing at meal times, and in some cases, if you're not among the first hordes to arrive in the dining hall, you risk not having any food left.
Food aside, hotels like these usually offer very basic rooms, poor onsite activities and just generally depressing surroundings of overbearing cement structures, in neighbourhoods comprising crowds of tourists exploring the onslaught of tourist traps set up in these sorts of towns thriving solely on tourism, like Sharm el Sheikh.
Admittedly, going all-inclusive is cheap and there are some extremely appealing deals promising seven nights of winter sun in the Canary Islands for less than £400 per person, however, after delving a little deeper, our research shows that actually, the independent holiday is not only cheaper than opting for an all-inclusive deal, but the value is unbeatable, and you get to tailor your time off exactly to what you want. An all-inclusive holiday in the Algarve, costs approximately £2,000* for two people in peak season whereas an independently-booked holiday for two costs £1,260 leaving you with £740 left over to treat yourself to a couple of massages, dinner at a gourmet restaurant, and car rental for a day or two to explore the island and you'll still have plenty left over for tipping the attentive staff that made you feel right at home throughout your holiday.
In Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, an all-inclusive holiday for two people costs on average, £1,700* in peak season, but going independent costs about £1,540*. That leaves you £160 to splash out on a cab home from the airport once you get back home to drizzly old United Kingdom.
However, some parents on a tight budget will still argue that their whole family being able to eat and drink all day long without spending an extra penny is a definite plus. And indeed, you can eat all day long if you choose, with most resorts opening a second breakfast for guests who like to sleep in (or for the early birds who are feeling a bit peckish an hour after having the first breakfast). Guests can drink cheap beer all day long, buttery pancakes at the pool bar and lie in the sun around the pool waiting for their intestines to do the rest. However, opting out of this sort of holiday will show you that eating junk food and drinking sugary drinks all day isn't actually the main criteria for a top holiday and that prioritising a beautiful and peaceful guesthouse surrounded by well-planted gardens boasting incredible views and eating local produce at meal times will do absolute wonders for your general health and well-being.
As most travellers who have experienced an independent or boutique holiday will tell you, there just is no going back to all-inclusive. At Casa Tomaren in Lanzarote, for example, you are lost in the middle of the country's arid vineyards close to the inland village of San Bartholome far from the tourist bustle in Puerto del Carmen or Costa Blanca, where the main beach is lined with hotels and cheap tourist bars and restaurants. The guesthouse only has 10 little stone farmhouses, meaning the shared areas like the state-of-the-art spa and beautiful outdoor pool, are never crowded, making a holiday here a qualitative experience that bears no resemblance to staying at a resort like Los Jameos in Puerto del Carmen that has 530 rooms. A holiday at a tranquil boutique hotel or guesthouse in the Algarve or Lanzarote where parents have to find activities for their children, or teach them how to enjoy the calm, certainly demands a little work at first, but the benefits soon pay off.
The quality of the accommodation, the surroundings, the food, the service and the general atmosphere of an independent holiday not only saves money, but it genuinely relaxes and unwinds, bringing you all the benefits of a holiday, a holiday that is healthy for the body and for your mind. A holiday shouldn't be an excuse to let your mind and body slip into oblivion nearing what would be qualified as an eating disorder by any nutritionist witnessing children, but also adults, scoffing on chips and coke all day long. There is nothing like having a pool all to yourself in the gardens of a quaint old local farmhouse in a picturesque setting right in the heart of the country you are visiting. Being far from crowds of people who are, just like you, stressed and in dire need of a break, and being in an environment where you have to share a pool and a dining hall with 1,060 people (in high season when Los Jameos hotel is fully-booked), it soon becomes obvious that the all-inclusive holiday has had its hey-day. With a tighter budget, Brits might be going away a lot less, but that only means that when we do go on holiday, we want it to be good - we no longer want to put up with eating out of enormous buffets of fried fatty foods and having a non-descript functional place to sleep. We want the whole nine yards: fresh local home-cooked food, a choice of restaurants, activities, things to see and visit. As time moves on, so do our standards and the all-inclusive holiday is just well out of its depths when it comes to quality, as well as cost.
*Algarve: the all-inclusive option we analysed in this article is a package deal including flights and seven nights at the Vila Galé Cerro Alagoa resort, for two people (sharing one room) for August 2013, leaving from London Garwick.
The independent option included seven nights at the Casa Vale del Rei, a bed and breakfast boutique quinta (beautiful converted farmhouse), for two (sharing one room), with a snack at lunch and dinner outside the hotel, as well as two return flights at £200 each (average).
The all-inclusive option in Lanzarote package deal including flights and seven nights at the Seaside Los Jameos Playa resort, for two people (sharing one room) for August 2013, leaving from London Stansted.
The independent option included seven nights at Casa Tomaren, a boutique bed and breakfast in a converted farmhouse, for two (sharing one studio/house), with a snack at lunch and dinner outside the hotel, as well as two return flights at £200 each (average).
The recent weeks have seen a great deal of hype in the news about the latest ...More
Last week, the Telegraph reported that one of Hollywood's hottest couples, namely ...More
Last week saw India dominate newspaper headlines both in the UK and across the ...More
Last week saw the Maldives take a hit to its tourist industry after an online ...More
After 48% of Brits agreed that passengers who are overweight should be charged ...More
Last week the luxury experiences website veryfirstto.com, together with London-based ...More
Last week's news brought to light the issue of crime in south Thailand's province ...More
Each year it seems that the ease of air travel becomes hindered further by the ...More
Paris is the most visited city in the world. As we saw earlier on in the year ...More