It’s this sort of dull/dreary time of year that I can’t help but let my mind wander to holidays and travel plans. I know I’m not alone in this. I have one big trip already planned in for the year ahead. A list of about another 50 destinations I’d love to visit (in my lifetime…not all in 2017) but for today’s post I wanted to touch on a type of getaway that I don’t think gets enough credit. The all inclusive holiday. I know what you’re probably thinking, oh god – she’s going to say everyone needs to go to one of those massive resorts with people packed by the pool like sardines and drink watered down cocktails and eat soggy food from an all you can eat buffet for a week. Well, if that’s what floats your boat then crack on. But that’s not what I had in mind. I wanted to have a little ramble about why I love an all inclusive holiday and a couple of photos from these that perhaps change your impression of what an all-inclusive vacation can really mean.
When I was growing up, my family typically did one or two types of holiday. Primarily, we would go to stay in a rented villa and enjoy that ‘home away from home’ break. Most frequently in my teens we went to various places in mainland Spain. But we also went to Florida or the Balearic islands. A couple of times we did a California road trip (when I was 6 and when I was 16) and excitingly this is on the cards for me this Summer. But one thing we fairly rarely did was stay in hotels or resorts. So when Ollie and I started going on holidays it felt a bit out of my comfort zone to be looking at package holidays or all inclusive resorts. But over the years I’ve really come to appreciate how much I love this type of holiday and how much value it has. Not in money terms, although that can be a side of it. But more on the side of things where it has so much value in escaping from day to day life and really relaxing.
The main reasons I love an all inclusive holiday can be summed up fairly simply. I love how it means you can take any day to day money thoughts off your plate for a week or two. No thinking about the bill if you have a cocktail or go out for dinner. That extra drink by the pool? No big deal. It’sall covered. The ease of knowing you don’t even really need to carry a wallet around with you and just enjoy life can really ease stress levels. It might sound somewhat silly to make such a thing about it. But I find it really does make for a relaxing break. You don’t need to ‘weigh up’ your options over where to eat or what to do based on cost.
The other thing I love about an all inclusive resort is it often gives you a chance to try things you might not have done before. From paddle boarding to taking a canoe out. Or even new types of exercise class – I’ve been at places where they have had everything from horse riding to hot yoga. Things that you may hold back from, purely down to cost if already feeling like you’re spending a lot being on holiday in the first place. I know I’ve tried sailing, paddle boarding and snorkelling on all inclusive holidays when I may not have done if it wasn’t part of the package.
In 2016 I got to visit beautiful Antigua where we stayed at theSt James Club Resort. This is what I would describe as my perfect all-inclusive holiday. The resort has been really cleverly designed so that it feels small, whilst having loads to offer. My favourite aspect being how that instead of one big pool and perhaps a single separate kids pool, there were a few smaller sized pools to choose from. With a different ‘vibe’ to each one, you could find the one that suited you and make it your base or you could have a change of scenery each day of your holiday depending on where you wanted to spend the day. There were also two options for beaches too – one on the sea side and one on the lagoon side. There were a selection of places to eat, so there was never the feeling of being bored or out of options. In fact, the lunch buffet was delicious – no soggy burgers insight – you could order fresh cooked burgers (with bacon, cheese and pineapple – delicious) or there was a great salad bar with loads of options like bean salads or watermelon and feta. Breakfast gave you choices between buffet, an omelette station or freshly made eggs Benedict or similar dishes. One night there was a great ‘full moon’ party on the lagoon side beach which was filled with amazing fresh BBQ sea food and rum cocktails.
Along with the food – that I could go on about for ages. There was also a huge selection of water sports type activities in the lagoon (nice and calm waters for anyone a bit nervous) and a dreamy spa for treatments. Of course the spa was a little extra on the all inclusive but it feels easier to treat yourself when everything else has been paid for already.
I think in a world where everyone is SO busy and there’s all this wander-lust pressure to explore and adventure all over the globe. There’s something quite refreshing about the all inclusive or package holiday option. It makes for a genuine escape – getting away from it all and just enjoying a break. Keeping it simple, laying by a pool reading and enjoying a refreshing cocktail over looking the sea. Maybe a massage or a trip out on a boat somewhere. Whatever you choose to do is up to you, but I love the ease and stress-free nature of an all inclusive holiday.
I’d love to know what you think of an all inclusive holiday? Is it something you think of as the stereotype and avoid accordingly? Or are you (like me) a big fan and can appreciate the benefit of that all paid for relaxation escape from real life!
You can get more of a feel for the ‘all inclusive’ experience – and how far away from the stereotype it can be on my Antigua Photo Diary post.
For more information on St James Club
I was a guest of St James Club, Antigua & Tropical Sky