What’s Good About All-Inclusive Resorts?

Reader Z asks:

Seriously though – can someone who likes all inclusive explain why? I think I would get claustrophobic. I´m all for not cooking but do not understand the attraction of the all inclusive concept.

As a huge fan of all-inclusive resorts, I can say the following:

An all-inclusive resort is my favorite kind of vacation. I don’t have to do anything, except lie on the beach drooling. It’s total relaxation because everything is resolved and done for you. There is also a very well-defined rhythm and a clear structure to life at such a resort. Chaotic environments (which, of necessity, accompany any kind of a more active vacation) make me very tired. I can only feel rested within a rigidly repetitive and structured framework. If you think about what my life has been since its very early stages, you’ll understand where this comes from (fall of the USSR, 100% a day inflation, bandit wars, multiple changes of the entire currency system, entrance into capitalism, emigration, immediate divorce and becoming a de facto guardian of a teenager on the day of the divorce, poverty, living between two countries for 5 years, a long-distance relationship, another emigration, packing and moving many times, traveling between countries every two months.)

People say, “What’s the point of a vacation where you don’t learn or see anything new?” I have to say, folks, after all of this change I’ve experienced and witnessed, I’m really into giving myself a couple of weeks a year simply to digest all of it without having any new information come my way.

There is nothing like this a Caribbean all-inclusive resort in the US, unfortunately. Every vacation involves either renting a car or staying in a city which is not at all relaxing. I find that only complete inactivity really helps me rest.

Last summer we had a great vacation in Florida, but:

1. There were only 2 restaurants with eatable food within the walking distance. And only one of them requested formal attire. A resort has 10 and they all insist people dress formally for dinner.

2. There were cars streaming behind our backs as we sat on the beach. This is hardly relaxing. And the need to inhale noxious fumes as one sits on the beach is very annoying. Plus there was a construction going on close to our hotel, and we kept hearing construction site noises.

These are grave defects.

And to people who want to giggle at my love for this type of vacation (I don’t mean reader Z, I mean other people who know who they are), I can only say that I wish you were at least 20% as self-aware as I am and as capable of creating restful environments for yourself that would be based on your psychological makeup and personality type.

Obviously, this is not a vacation for everybody. But people who have lived their lives in the state of constant upheaval and insecurity are perfectly suited for it.

I also want to say to any well-meaning fool who is likely to blabber about the “exploitation” of 3rd World people. Do that on my blog, and this 3rd World person who has no time for your ridiculous self-aggrandizement at the expense of 3rd World people will bite your head off.

23 thoughts on “What’s Good About All-Inclusive Resorts?

  1. When I went to New Orleans I was amazed at all the wonderful meals I had in restaurants there, even though I’d read all the hype. Growing up in Florida you learn to give hype a wary eye. Also, I was used to the bland tourist fare that most restaurants in Florida serve. It’s difficult to find a place to get a meal there that doesn’t taste like it came out of a can.

    PS, I’m curious: did you stay in Miami Beach? Your experience sounds like it. I never understood why people thought of going to Miami as being any part of a restful vacation. Miami is a big city, with all its attendant annoyances. As for the area around Orlando, everything there is Disney, so it basically doesn’t cater to anyone who isn’t older than twelve (mentally if not physically).

    I like the idea of a completely restful vacation where you don’t have to do anything. That’s kind of the idea, if you ask me. I also like the sort of pleasure trips where you go to do things, but only certain things (like, my idea of a fun trip as opposed to a restful trip would be going to London or Paris and exploring the city, eating at little cafes, etc.; I don’t do sports-type vacations where people do things that get you sweaty like playing tennis or skiing). I also like visiting national parks but only ones with clearly-marked trails, and I have a restricted time of year and weather type where I like to be outside (autumn and dry or early spring and dry), so I rarely get to do that. I’m not a huge fan of the sort of vacation where you are tired out by it and end up needing a vacation from your vacation.

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    1. No, we were in Clearwater. Here is a photo of the beach. And this is the view from the hotel. Pretty! Yet, not as peaceful as it could have been.

      We found places that were located far away from cities. But those places had a single on-site restaurant and everybody rented cars to go and have a meal. That is unacceptable to me. I don’t travel places to be stuck in a car.

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      1. Oh, yes, the Gulf-side beaches are plenty crowded, especially the ones in the Tampa area. I’ve heard nicer, less crowded areas are further south, around Bradenton and Fort Myers, but believe it or not I’ve not been to that part of Florida, or when I was I was a very small child. For some reasons when my parents would take us up through Florida we’d stick to the Atlantic side with occasional forays to Orlando and Gainesville.

        There are some more isolated type vacation areas in Florida. A friend of mine used to take her teenage son to a place on Cedar Key, but it was one of those semi-camping sort of spots (you get a hotel room but there isn’t much room service, maybe there’s one nearby restaurant, you need a car). Americans tend to associate “quite, isolated” vacations with activities like fishing and hunting. We’re quite attached to our cars otherwise and treat them almost as members of the family so we wouldn’t dream of going anywhere that didn’t involve driving! (I’m joking, but only a little.)

        I was also thinking about your need for formal dining on vacation. In general… Americans hate anything to do with formal dressing up. They associate that with work, and think of clothing that isn’t casual as “uncomfortable.” Also, many Americans just aren’t taught proper table manners and think that formal dinners involve all sorts of different silverware that they aren’t quite sure how to use. I base this on the response I used to get any time I complained about how badly Americans dress nowadays. God forbid I wish American men would go back to wearing suits and hats (that aren’t baseball caps that is). The shitstorm that always followed made Hurricane Andrew look like a light breeze. In short: you’ll pry the average American male’s sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans off his cold, dead body.

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        1. “They associate that with work, and think of clothing that isn’t casual as “uncomfortable.” Also, many Americans just aren’t taught proper table manners and think that formal dinners involve all sorts of different silverware that they aren’t quite sure how to use. I base this on the response I used to get any time I complained about how badly Americans dress nowadays. God forbid I wish American men would go back to wearing suits and hats (that aren’t baseball caps that is). The shitstorm that always followed made Hurricane Andrew look like a light breeze. In short: you’ll pry the average American male’s sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans off his cold, dead body.”

          – I know!!! People deprive themselves of experiencing the full variety of human existence because of this weird obsession with “comfort.” For some reason, wearing boring, ugly clothes and shoes, eating incredible crap and living attached to their car is the equivalent of “comfortable.” But experiencing different ways of dressing for different occasions, exploring new cuisines and different ways of transportation is “uncomfortable.” How sad.

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      2. I base this on the response I used to get any time I complained about how badly Americans dress nowadays. God forbid I wish American men would go back to wearing suits and hats (that aren’t baseball caps that is).

        Dressing well has nothing to do with suits and hats. Both men and women in Europe are usually better dressed even when wearing casual clothes. It is about body fit, matching colors and appropriateness of outfit for the occasion.

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      3. Well yeah, there is that too. Americans have no idea what size to wear because we dumped our size standards some time ago, so now the measurements are meaningless. At least as far as womens’ clothes go. But no one really has any idea of how to dress, and most things end up looking like sacks on people no matter what sort of outfit it is. (There are, of course, exceptions. But most people dress like me – like we ran through the clearance section at Walmart with glue all over us, and then went out wearing whatever stuck.)

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  2. PS: re exploiting Third World countries. Well, the alternative is just not going there and then the resorts make no money and close down and the Third World countries will be able to starve in peace. Seriously though, the only problem with Western tourists going to Third World countries is how arrogant a lot of them act. It’s as if once they leave the shores of the USA they drop all that stuff about land of the free and individuality and become nasty, officious colonialists. I’ve seen this with my own eyes (and I saw a bit of that even in Florida which is part of the US, where people from up north acted like since they were on vacation, no one else had jobs to go to and could just party all night). I’ve been reading some comments on Western tourists by the natives of those countries the tourists inflict themselves on and it’s been quite eye-opening. (For one thing, as a person who grew up in a sub-tropical climate it’s astonishing to me that anyone would go to a tropical country and not find themselves needing to bathe more than once a day, but apparently this is so.)

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  3. “I base this on the response I used to get any time I complained about how badly Americans dress nowadays. God forbid I wish American men would go back to wearing suits and hats (that aren’t baseball caps that is). The shitstorm that always followed made Hurricane Andrew look like a light breeze. In short: you’ll pry the average American male’s sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans off his cold, dead body.”

    You’re unfairly singling out Americans here. I think most people in most countries dress terribly. Let’s see, currently there are people from Spain, France, Brazil, China, South Korea, Germany and England in my lab. It makes me laugh how awful their outfits are. You’d be lucky to find sneakers (usually it’s flip-flops or white tennis shoes) over their baggy jeans.

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    1. Keep in mind, these aren’t people who’ve been living in the US for years so they’ve co-opted the american style to blend in or whatever. I’m talking fresh off the boat Europeans/South Americans/Asians in their mid-to-late twenties.

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      1. As a general statement Americans dress particularly badly. I travel the world and the old USA is the only place where you would routinely see people wearing the latest trend regardless of body fit. In other places people follow fashion as well, but if the style doesn’t fit they take a pass on that specific item.

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    2. I haven’t been to Europe since 1981 and have never been to Brazil, so I can’t say whether you are right or wrong. However, I was talking about Americans. Derailing the conversation to say “but these other people do it too/worse!” doesn’t contradict my original point that Americans in general don’t know how to dress.

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  4. I thought Ukraine was a Second World country? /pedant. Clearwater is crazy busy and supposedly has the best beach. It’s beautiful but the sheer amount of people is a little much. St. Pete Beach might have been more up your alley, but then you’d have had to take the trolley into the city (where the bay, along with the restaurants) and rent a car/taxi to go to the airport. Great food by the beach is hard to come by, in my experience.

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    1. Most of the eating places there cater to tourists and college kids so the food will not be top notch.

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    2. “I thought Ukraine was a Second World country”

      – It has become a typical banana republic. With all due respect to places that actually grow bananas. I keep trying to write a post about it (Ukraine, not bananas) but I get too angry in the process.

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  5. “As a general statement Americans dress particularly badly. ”

    – Very true. I just traveled to Germany, and the difference is visible. And when you ask European students whether they go to class straight from bed, in their pyjamas, and without even showering, they become insulted. American students do it all the time. The lack of basic hygiene is horrifying.

    This must be a class issue, too, because my rich students at Yale did it a lot more than my poor students from St. Louis. I’d sometimes find it hard to teach because the classroom would reek of unwashed, stale bodies at 10 am.

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  6. “Let’s see, currently there are people from Spain, France, Brazil, China, South Korea, Germany and England in my lab. It makes me laugh how awful their outfits are. You’d be lucky to find sneakers (usually it’s flip-flops or white tennis shoes) over their baggy jeans.”

    – It’s like a mark of intelligence to look badly among academics, don’t you think? It’s like saying, “I’m above all this boring stuff of daily existence. . .”

    Of course, foreign language departments are an exception. Everybody is always very chic there. My colleagues look like fashion models, and I;m talking about people in their 50s and 60s.

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    1. I don’t know what sadza is, but many of those guilt-scratchers are annoyed when I get between them and their pity for poor 3rd world people. It’s like they live to feel sorry for us and then I come and spoil all the fun.

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