7 Deadly Sins of an All-Inclusive Holiday

I did it – to the disgust of a few travel snobs I know – I went on an all-inclusive holiday to Sharm el Sheikh courtesy of easyJet holidays. It was cool y’know. A free bar for 12 hours a day, you get to try different foods, no worries about carrying any money round, a fun pool, great staff at the hotel, and sun loungers you could sink into and soak up the sun from.

During the 7 days I was there I did notice a few things though, a few things that shook my core and made me question humanity…

#1 Gluttony

Without a doubt, every day at every meal time, the other holidaymakers would race down to the restaurant as soon as it opened and pile their plates high with at least three of everything. And not just one plate. I like to eat, but I was literally appalled by the gluttony of the other guests. And the fact that most of it was wasted at the end sickened me all the more. If you’re not going to eat all the red jelly, why take so much so there’s none left for anyone else? (yes I am bitter)

#2 Greed

All those quips I’d heard about guests getting up early to mark their sun loungers are true. I couldn’t believe it. I was up at 8am on some days to scuba dive in the Red Sea, take my mum snorkelling, and get to the Savoy Hotel in time for my spa treatment and 80% of the sun loungers were taken. On the two mornings that I did spend by the hotel pool no one came out to use them until at least 10, I call that greed. They must’ve actually got up early from their hotel bed to bag their sun lounger so no one else could have one. Rude.

#3 Sloth

It’s hard to motivate yourself on an all-inclusive holiday. Your food’s there when you want it, waiters bring you drinks as soon as your glass is finished and the hours just while away sat around the pool. It’s easy to stay in the complex all week without ever feeling the need to get out – well it was for my fellow guests. Some of them had been there for two weeks and not left the hotel. This is very, very wrong. I’ll admit on to occasions me and mum got up late, slept by the pool and then had an afternoon snooze in the air conditioning of our room to top it off. But for the other days we were out and about exploring.

You need to get out of your hotel for two very big reasons:

  1. To actually see some of the place you’re staying, not just the hotel.
  2. To invest in the local businesses rather than what are often foreign-owned huge hotels.

7 Deadly sins of an all inclusive holiday

#4 Lust

Lusting after things at home and home comforts seemed to be a big problem from chatting to my new friends around the pool. McDonalds, KFC, their comfy clothes, the internet, the way their mum made gravy – holidays are the time to leave these things alone and experience a new way of life. The trouble is, when you’ve locked yourself up in an all-inclusive there’s nothing to fill your mind. In my eyes, one of the most important aspects of travelling is to leave it all behind and experience something new, not lust after the home comforts.

#5 Envy

“Her omelette was definitely bigger than mine.”

“I was stood at the bar for ages then as soon as a local came up, they served her right away.”

When I was on my all-inclusive holiday in Sharm el Sheikh, I often overheard guests quip a few variations of the above. The key thing to remember here is that you’re not actually in any rush, what for? Your sun lounger? And that you can just go and get another omelette for god’s sake – see Greed above.

#6 Pride

Being too proud to go on an all-inclusive holiday is a sin in my eyes. I’ve gotten a lot of stick for one minute camping in the Serengeti in Tanzania, and the next chavving it up at an all-inclusive in Sharm el Sheikh, but it was great.

Another pride-related sin on an all-inclusive holiday is not making the most of the free bar and free activities. Sadly I was so hot and not feeling my best I only made the most of the unlimited gin and tonics on two nights, we also joined in the aqua aerobics and highly discounted trip to Soho Square put on by the hotel. Never be too proud to say yes when it comes to all-inclusive holidays, but only take what you need.

Sharm el Sheikh

#7 Wrath

This is the deadly sin I was most guilty of in Sharm el Sheikh. The evening entertainment was horrendous and the constant noise sent me crazy – my mum felt my wrath. They had karaoke night which is awful at the best of times, but when you’ve got a group of Russians belting out the local hits at Wembley-style volume until midnight, that’s when it really gets bad. They were having a great time, I know, but I wasn’t.

There were belly dancers, hot coal walkers, comedy sketches and fire-eaters, none of which impressed me. The trouble with an all-inclusive holiday is that you hand over all control. You can’t choose where you eat, drink, do anymore, or what you listen to at night.

All-inclusive holidays are great, but make sure you get out of the complex at least half the time you’re there.

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17 Comments

  1. by Marina on November 18, 2012  9:13 am Reply

    I laughed when I saw the title of this post, and all of your points are totally true! We went on an all inclusive to the Bahamas a few years ago, and by day 3 we were begging our "butler" (he wasn't really a butler, just a guy who hung around our wing of the resort answering questions) to tell us where he would go for some local food. He was obviously shocked that we were interested in leaving the resort, let alone to go somewhere the locals would hang out. And just at that moment, a drunken man carrying a heaping plate of french fries from the late night bar buffet stumbled through our french doors (they opened onto a sort of communal lounge area) and stared at us like, "what are you doing in my room?" The poor butler just shrugged and redirected him down the hall. It was funny, but it was also the moment that my husband and I looked at each other and realized that we had to get off the resort ASAP! Ultimately we did end up finding the local spot our butler recommended and had the most fun night of the whole trip. Anyway, thought I'd share my story since so many of your experiences sounded so familiar. I'd go "all inclusive" again for a beach vacation, but now I know to plan activities outside of the resort as well as inside (and I'll be damned if I ever get up before 8 to save a sun lounger!).

    • by Vicky on January 12, 2013  7:10 pm Reply

      Ha, good story and one I could totally envisage. All-inclusive holidays are weird, and quite sad. Although I had an amazing time, it's not a good way to travel unless all you want is sun, a pool and your every want with a 5 minute radius. Actually, sounds bloody brilliant!

  2. by Ayngelina on November 19, 2012  3:26 pm Reply

    Great photos! I am so sorry we didn't get to chat more at WTM. It was such a hectic time but hopefully you will be at ITB?

    • by Vicky on November 19, 2012  5:52 pm Reply

      Oh me too! I was gutted to miss you in Toronto, and in London. Yeah, every time I tried to speak to you you had a queue behind you :) No plans for ITB yet, but maybe...

  3. by Karl on November 21, 2012  11:19 am Reply

    Well said ....

  4. by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on February 7, 2013  4:41 pm Reply

    Sorry I was at the buffet and missed it, what comes after #1 Gluttony?

    Somehow I actually lost weight on my all inclusive holiday this year, I put it down to the pool bar and having to swim to get my drinks.

    • by Vicky on February 8, 2013  11:33 pm Reply

      Ha, men! I remember you saying that – maybe you sweated it out?

  5. by Arianwen on February 18, 2013  2:28 pm Reply

    I can't believe you slagged off karaoke when you did aqua aerobics ;)

    • by Vicky on February 22, 2013  11:36 pm Reply

      Not slagging off karaoke per se, just *their* karaoke :)

  6. by Mick Thompson (Travel Dog PR) on March 5, 2013  12:34 pm Reply

    That is an excellent article Vicky. People don't realise how awful all-inclusives are and how damaging they are to local businesses. Well said.

  7. by Anita Mac on March 6, 2013  3:31 pm Reply

    I love you 7 deadly sins! I am an adventure person at heart, but have to admit - I am a fan of the all inclusive as well! There is something to be said for a little R&R. I whole heartedly agree with you though....there is no need to fill 3 plates of food and waste most of it! There is nothing wrong with going back up for a second plate - but if you become full, you can never put that extra food back! Growing up with a mother telling me that there were starving children in Africa, I could not imagine wasting so much!

    I agree whole heartedly with the get off the resort plan! I could not imagine being a sloth for a full week - even if that is a little of my plan! Get off and actually see something of the island or destination. My last trip to an all inclusive had me going so stir crazy that I was going jogging off the resort just to get out! Did 2 day trips and loved them but that wasn't enough! Was great to be able to support the local businesses off the resort too!

    Guess, for some, 7 days of sloth is perfect...for the rest of us, we just have to find the right balance!

  8. by kim on March 21, 2013  10:15 am Reply

    I'm in love with this!
    Why? because not only do i agree with EVERYTHING... I've actually stayed in that *cough*prisonHOTEL myself on a family holiday to celebrate my dad's retirement; I recognise the hotel room and the swan towel formations.

    Meal time sickened me, as did my surprising homesickness for the UK, because there was nothing at all to do.

    • by Vicky on March 24, 2013  4:08 pm Reply

      Ha, you know which one it is?! Did everyone get sick while you were there too?

  9. by Elle-Rose Williams on March 22, 2013  7:36 am Reply

    This is a great piece :) I always associate all inclusive holidays with families and I can see why families always opt for this as it must make the whole parenting thing so much easier if you have a kids club, activities and food readily lined up for the kids. In fact, I can imagine myself booking an all-inclusive holiday when I have kids of my own.

    Right now though, I hate the idea. Whilst it must be the ultimate in relaxation - I just love exploring local restaurants and districts too much to restrict myself to the resort only. xx

    • by Vicky on March 24, 2013  4:08 pm Reply

      I'm torn. All-inclusive holidays are so bad for the environment and the local community when you really look into them, I find it hard to accept them and to enjoy them knowing that some fat cat is getting fatter while the locals suffer. I think like anything you need to go into it with your eyes wide open and question anything you don't agree with.

  10. by Ligeia on April 15, 2013  5:29 am Reply

    Great post. I've never gone on an all-inclusive vacation and I've been wondering recently if I might like it and that perhaps I should try it. I must though that your post really confirms all the things (and more) that I worried about. I don't think I would like it. I'll re-visit the idea later in life perhaps but for now I'll stick with the "roam around with no particular plans" kind of travel, which of course causes some stress but the rewards seem to be worth it.
    Happy travels no matter what kind they may be. :)

    • by Vicky on April 15, 2013  12:12 pm Reply

      Thanks Ligeia. I think all inclusives definitely have a purpose, but I agree, they're not my holiday of choice. And I worry about the effect they have on the local economy and people. Stick to supporting local businesses I say.

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