Thursday, 16 August 2012
I only ever tried one all-inclusive, and that was to St Lucia many years ago when my children were very young.
The photos in the brochure were very misleading. People sitting around a vast swimming pool, with lots of space, sipping delicious looking cocktails full of fruit and other decorations.
The reality was somewhat different. The pool wasn't so vast and it was very crowded, with very few sunbeds. And as for the cocktails...these were actually slopped into plastic cups with no fruit or even ice.
The wine that should have appeared on the table at lunch and dinner (included in the price) never did, unless you asked two or three times for it, and it would invariably arrive after you had finished eating.
We had booked and paid for two large adjoining rooms...we actually received one room, being informed on arrival that the hotel had been overbooked. The service generally was pretty grim.
It wasn't a cheap holiday. We paid more than £4000 (one child free and the other half-price) and this was almost 30 years ago. We stayed for the first week, complained bitterly, and were finally moved to another hotel for our second week. The meals were included, but not drinks. We paid extra and it was well worth it. We later received a refund of our additional expenses from Thomas Cook, together with a case of wine as compensation.
I decided then and there that I would never again do an all-inclusive holiday.
All-inclusives, in my opinion, have been very damaging to tourism in Turkey. Tourists are now getting very cheap deals. As a result they stay in their hotels and don't venture outside to see this beautiful country. They are not spending money, and local businesses are closing down as a result.
Half the fun of a holiday abroad is to get out and experience a bit of the culture, and to taste the different food. The food in all-inclusive hotels is NOT typical Turkish cuisine by any stretch of the imagination. People just don't realise what they are missing.
I do understand the mentality of the all-inclusive tourists, that they pay one price and know what they're getting for it. But it does tend to encourage them to stay put in their hotels from the start of the holiday till it ends.
Mr A is working for an all-inclusive hotel at the moment, in the hamam. Naturally, if someone wants to experience a Turkish bath they have to pay for it. You would be amazed at the number of people who think that all-inclusive means absolutely everything, and they feel most put out if they are asked to pay extra. He tells me of one family of four who told him they couldn't possibly pay extra for anything as they had only brought a total of £50 spending money with them for two weeks.
I recall my friend Gwen telling me last year that whilst she and her husband were running the small hotel shop, where you could buy cigarettes, sweets, biscuits, sun lotion etc, that customers had helped themselves to icecreams from the fridge and walked out without paying. When she called after them to pay, they informed her that they assumed they were included. When they were politely told they were not free, they put them back in the fridge. This happened many times.
I know money is scarce these days, so I understand that people have a budget when they go on holiday, but it's still possible to do holidays in Turkey that aren't all inclusive, without breaking the bank, and the experience is far more enjoyable.