All aboard for all-inclusive!

People develop misconceptions about things for all sorts of reasons — both rational and irrational — and yours truly is no exception. For most of my travelling life, I have always opted for self-catering apartments whenever I was going on family holidays, reasoning that (1) I had the facility to make myself a cup of tea at any time of the day or night that I chose and believe me, I’m a BIG tea drinker, (2) it avoided me taking the risk that the food in the hotel might be awful and I’d have to eat out anyway — thus paying twice for the same food, in effect. But perhaps the single biggest reason that I always opted for self catering was (3) the latitude that it provided me with in being able to eat at a different restaurant or café up to three times a day for the duration of my holiday! In more recent years, when I started cruising, I took happily to the all-inclusive concept (given that there was no choice) and was more than happy to sing the praises of this new concept in leisure travel. And yet I still clung to the notion that I didn’t like committing myself to going all-inclusive — just in case!

Two or three years ago during the course of a fam trip to some of the Canary islands which was organised by the Spanish Tourist Board, we stayed in a hotel called the Mogan Cordial Playa which provided both half-board and full-board options and although my stay at that property was quite short, I was struck by both the quality and sheer range of food options provided to guests at meal times and I began slowly to modify my opinion of this kind of holiday. Recently, the bar was raised (or lowered, depending on your perspective) when I got to spend a few days based at the Melia Jardin del Teide all-inclusive property in Costa Adeje in Tenerife as I researched other properties in the area. Because of time constraints, it suited me to go all inclusive for the few days as I knew that I wouldn’t have time to go around looking for suitable places to eat at the end of each working day. Like the Cordial Mogan Playa a few years earlier, I was most impressed by the quality and range of food on offer at this hotel but because it was an all-inclusive resort property, this choice extended well beyond the traditional mealtimes and I could see both kids and adults regularly walking up to dispensing machines to pour themselves glaases of their favourite soda or grab yet another handful of choc ices or cornettos from the large freezers located near the bar areas. All alcoholic drinks (including a significant range of premium brands) were available around the clock although the wines on offer were limited to local Spanish labels but who could complain at the price? Staff would regularly go round to guests lazing by the pool offering them bags of French fries or mini paninis to sate their appetites until the next gorge fest. To be fair though, during the time that I was there, I never witnessed one single instance of someone (adult or child) overindulging and wasting food simply because they could eat as much as they wanted.

A different food theme was apparent each day so it was not a case that it was the same fare on display day after day and given the diversity of soups, salads, breads, sauces, fish, meats, fruits, vegetables and confectionaries on offer, it is fair to say that there was probably something there to suit even the most pernickety or jaded of palates! I must confess that given my all-to-brief introduction to all-inclusive hotels, I think I am already converted and would have no hesitation to recommending this kind of holiday option to families with kids or anyone on a tight budget as they do undoubtedly represent excellent value for money. All inclusive, as they say ‘does exactly what it says on the tin!


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