Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada. It’s just the winters I can do without. Especially after getting pounded with 30 inches of snow this past weekend, this is traditionally the time of year when I start to fantasize about a Caribbean getaway.
The warmth, the sunshine, the sand, the surf, the lush vegetation, (did I mention the warmth) – this type of environment is very appealing to a beach guy like me. So when the blistering cold and driving snow – unmistakable trademarks of a Canadian winter come calling – I prefer not to answer the door.
To escape, the easiest thing for most people to do is cruise on over to their favorite travel site and start screening the various Caribbean all-inclusive resort properties available. But, is an all-inclusive resort always the best choice? There’s also a lot to be said for booking an island condo on a secluded stretch of beach. Having experienced both options on numerous occasions, I thought I would share my own thoughts on the pros and cons of the all-inclusive vacation route.
One Stop Shopping
If you don’t have a lot of time to plan your vacation, or maybe you are looking for some cost savings via the last-minute route, booking an all-inclusive vacation package is pretty painless. Packages usually include your flight, transportation from the airport to the resort, your room, your food, alcoholic beverages, activities and entertainment too. Pretty stress-free for the most part. If you go for the house or condo rental option, there’s quite a bit more work involved with the planning.
As mentioned previously, with all your needs taken care of at all-inclusive resorts, it really makes for a relaxing and easy going vacation. No need to cook meals or clean up after yourself, your schedule is pretty much wide open to chill out or have some fun. And with all the various activities and entertainment provided on the resort, you really don’t have to waste your precious vacation time to go off the property. But if you did want to venture out to see the island, most resorts can satisfy your every whim with optional day excursion packages.
If you’re looking to socialize, you really can’t beat the all-inclusive resort vacation. With some properties having upwards of 1000 rooms, there are plenty of people around to mix and mingle with. Volleyball games in the pool or on the beach, salsa dance lessons, learn to scuba classes, or shooters at the swim up bar provide ample opportunity to meet people. And for people travelling with children, most resorts offer kids club programs featuring arts & crafts and games to keep the little ones entertained.
One of the big things I struggle with when going to an all-inclusive resort is the extra 15 pounds I bring back home with me. And I don’t mean the souvenirs in my luggage; I mean the additional pudge around my mid-section. There’s just something about being given as much food and booze as you can handle that makes most people want to “get their monies worth”.
I don’t normally consume alcohol in the morning or afternoon (unless I’m having a particularly bad day) – but at an all-inclusive, I’m grabbing Cervazas, Margaritas, Pina Coladas and Mojitos before noon – just because they’re there. And with many resorts offering the buffet style of dining, it’s hard to eat clean and healthy when there are 60 different dishes to sample on any given night. Going the house or condo rental route generally provides a more healthy and sensible approach to eating and drinking (which may not be a concern for you anyway).
Wake up, hit the buffet for breakfast, grab a lounger on the beach, build a sand castle, have lunch at the beachside grill, hit the pool for the afternoon, read a book, take a nap, grab a shower for dinner, eat dinner, go watch the evening show, go to bed. Then wake up the next day and do it all again. Rinse and repeat. If you pretty much stick to the resort property and not venture out on any excursions, it’s very easy to fall into a routine. And this might be exactly what the doctor ordered – but it can also get a bit mundane if you prefer more excitement and variety on your vacations. Staying in a rental allows you to custom build your itinerary with a wider range of activities and generally presents a better opportunity to experience what an island really has to offer.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m anti-social, but I’m not a fan of big crowds and I find a fair portion of the population somewhat annoying to be around. I guess you could say that I’m a selective people-person. So if you’re anything like me, being stuck on a jam-packed all-inclusive resort filled with loud and at times rude and obnoxious vacationers is far from relaxing or enjoyable.
That’s why when we do go the all-inclusive route – I tend to seek out the smaller and more intimate resorts – preferably with sprawling properties. And that’s one of the things I like most about house or condo rentals, you can still get out on adventures and meet people – but you can always head back to your base camp for some privacy and peace and quiet.
So that’s just a few things to consider when planning your next escape to the sunny south. A lot of your decision will be based on what kind of vacation you are looking for and what kind of person you are. But give both the all-inclusive resort and the rental unit approach a try to see which travel style is right for you. For now, back to the cage.