In March I had a few firsts. I went to the Caribbean, I snorkeled, and I paddle boarded, all for the first time. Generally speaking, put me on a beach and that’s more than enough to make me happy! So, obviously I loved this long weekend escape to the Dominican Republic. But, like anything though, it had it’s good and it’s bad.
I had a preconceived notion that All-Inclusive resorts had food comparable to cruises. For the most part, I was correct. The taste of mass produced food is undeniable. While, most resorts have a few “upscale” options I found the food to be little better, but still not great. The lines were insane and most times we didn’t get to eat without waiting until 9p.m. That being said, you can’t complain too much about 24h food. Similarly, it’s hard to mess up junk food. So, 2a.m. nachos are still something to be grateful for.
- Non-Authentic Experience
What I have most against resorts, is the lack of authenticity of the experience. I think the most important part of travel is learning. By immersing yourself in the culture, you’re able to get the most out of your experience. I noticed that many people use resorts to stay within their comfort zone, around people that are of their same nationality. The norm is easy, but what’s the point of venturing into the world then? Just go florida if you want a beach. There’s obviously ways around this, but it’s all too convenient to stay put when everything you could think of is within the resort.
There are so many excursions that target all-inclusive resorts. I guess it’s kind of a con that you have to pay extra for it, but they’re totally worth it. Especially if you wait to do it in person, because you can often talk them down in price. We did two excursions, a waterfall tour and boat ride to a sandbar island with snorkeling included. This got us away from the resort, and learning a lot about the country we were in on the way. We also got talking with our tour guide who was literally born and raised on the land surrounding the waterfalls. He was around before they were an attraction and was able to tell us so many intimate details both about his life and the falls (including the natural swimming pool he learned to swim in!). A good reason to remember to talk to people!
Because so many people do chose to stay on the resort, there are a ton of activities. This is a good opportunity to try out a new water sport, like I did. Take advantage of the fitness classes, do yoga on the beach, or learn to dance salsa! Most resorts have night clubs to go to at night as well, ours even had live performers and movies for the kids.
Bottomless drinks are always awesome, but they’re even a little better at all-inclusive resorts. Think about it, they gain nothing from watering them down. So you can be sure that you’re not going to be just drinking a bunch of sugar. And the best part is, there’s a bar everywhere you turn, swim up pool or oceanside alike.
- Economic Boost
The truth is that many of the resort cities in the caribbean in particular are very poor. Therefore, many people that work at resorts depend on tourism. What I found kinda neat (after being initially annoyed), is that after most excursions, they take you to some kind of shop. A lot of these shops are for local artisans. You can get a souvenir and know that your money is going to support someone’s family. Similarly, don’t underestimate how much your tips mean.
In summary, as long as you know not to expect a gourmet meal, don’t have too much trust in your pork being fully cooked, and make an effort to get to know more than just the resort, all-inclusives are pretty cool.