When you hear the words ‘all-inclusive’, what comes to mind?
Personally, I am filled with dread.
Whilst I was growing up, our parents never went down the easy/all-inclusive route. Memories of my young summers are of my mum making us breakfast in a little apartment kitchen, and we’d all eat on the balcony.
Any time I drink a tropical or mixed fruit juice I’m transported to those bright mornings – if you ever summered in Spain in the 90s, you know what I’m talking about.
Long, hazy days spent playing in the swimming pool or eating our body weight in sand at the beach – and those two torturous hours we had to sit and wait after lunch (“do a crossword”) before we could snorkel again.
Our childhood travels were spent exploring cobbled backstreets, enjoying the luxury of having our own private pool, being exhausted after a day of swimming and looking forward to not going out, but having some home-made food instead.
Crisp salads, simple pasta, fresh fish; and a long walk after to help the food go down.
So all-inclusive, in my mind, has always been the money-stretcher option. It brings the thought of rushing down at the sign of first light to passive-aggressively reserve a sun lounger with your towel. Of ordering lunch by the pool, even if you’re not hungry, just because it’s included. Along with at least 4 cocktails. Supposedly hassle-free, but perhaps at the expense of real comfort and cultural experience.
It’s not that it’s necessarily bad – it is just never something I’ve experienced. I haven’t ever foreseen it as being my way to travel.
But what with changes in the hospitality industry in recent years, all-inclusive is becoming something quite different to what it used to be. All-inclusive resorts are reaching new levels of not only comfort, but of extravagance.
So what’s the common denominator?
Being pampered, naturally.
A restaurant, spa and amenities are the expected standard nowadays.
The best of the best are offering gastronomy, not just food, with local, fresh and organic produce. The spas are inspired by cultural traditions. The amenities are so unique, they won’t be found elsewhere.
Real Mediterranean ingredients, locally-produced lotions and potions – did anyone else have a childhood summers like this?
Being completely taken care of, invisibly.
Quintessentially, not having to do anything yourself.
A personal butler who caters to every need, 24/7. No more sacrificing the sun lounger (that you got up at 4am to reserve) to go and get a bite to eat. The generation of Whatsapp Butler is here.
And the personal concierge isn’t limited to within the confines of these hotels – there are locals who are on hand for cultural experiences, excursions and tours to help you get the most out of your travels.
Beating boredom, actively.
It’s hard to imagine you could be bored with the very elite in service, excursions, and food.
But more often than not, the new all-inclusive also offers a plethora of activities. And I’m not talking kids club, karaoke or water aerobics with Wayne from Newcastle, your cliche holiday rep.
It’s a fitness and wellness programme that includes aerial yoga. Biking through nature. Extreme water sports. Scuba diving in the azure sea. A culinary masterclass to take the local specialties home with you.
All-inclusive is no longer synonymous with lack of frills.
Maybe I need to change my opinion of it! Only one way to do that… be right back, just opening a new SkyScanner tab…
What’s your best memory from childhood travels?
Let me know on Twitter,
Love, Chloe x