Your opinion on all inclusives?

Old Oct 18th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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ejcrowe- alas I too must agree with much of what you wrote, I find it factual and concise. True the profits return home, and much of the managment is imported but ej where is that any different from any other corporation in this now global economy. When Honda or Toyota builds cars and replacement parts in the south of the US do they keep the profits in the US. No of course not. When Guinness beer is brewed under contract at Banks Brewery in Barbados, Guinness takes over possession of said beer and distributes it throughout the Caribbean, the profits do not stay there. Coca-Cola bottled in Great Britian or Hong Kong returns profits to the US. Such is the way of large corporations nowadays, be it from a single or multinational. All of these corporations use their own people for the most part in the higher management. It may suck but such is how business is conducted. If I was a stock holder of one of the big AI chains obviously from a business sense i would want people familar and loyal to the corporation overseeing things in a far away country.

I must disagree that as a blanket statement locals are under paid. Though anecdotal, (my wife thinks i talk too much to anyone about anything) through personal discussions with people who work at the resorts over the years in the Caribbean and Mexico, they enjoy their jobs, have worked at the resorts for years, and make average to above average local wages, and get perks like tips from guilty Americans and things left behind.

Fianlly the economics may not be perfect with AI's but it beats a blank. According to the UNEP's Tourism Home there is 80% "leakage" (defined as: The direct income for an area is the amount of tourist expenditure that remains locally after taxes, profits, and wages are paid outside the area and after imports are purchased; these subtracted amounts are called leakage. In most all-inclusive package tours, about 80% of travelers' expenditures go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies (who often have their headquarters in the travelers' home countries), and not to local businesses or workers.) So I thought if 80% is somehow leaving then that means 20% stays in some capacity. Figure a 600 room AI resort that has booked at 50% capacity at $1400 per person would before leakage would be just under 22 million dollars for the year so after leakage some 4.4 million dollars per year for the local economy. Lets face it that ain't chump change. Multiple AI's bring in more. I have a belief that 20% of something is much better than 100% of nothing or essentially next to nothing. Also unstated is what many, though I would believe not a plurality, who book tours like snorkeling, dives, mangrooves, rain forest, you name it with local packagers, rental cars, shopping, and the few who (like myself) eat dinner off the resort usually twice during my stay. A resturant or smaller local hotel would be great but would not have the same economic impact.

I am now done my pontificating, obviously i have too much time on my hands. Just for the record I prefer staying at non-All Inclusives and exploring and my wife prefers the All-Inclusive experience (with side trips and a few dinners out). I guess whether it is an AI or non-AI as long as i am going away it's all good!
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Old Oct 18th, 2006, 02:55 PM
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tough_guy, again, I do not disagree. As I said in my original post,"admittedly I have that beef with any large corporation, not just all-inclusive resorts, and [not]just in the Caribbean." In my everyday life I constantly weigh the pros and cons of various large businesses and corporations I choose to give my custom. My husband is self-employed, I am employed by another small business, as are most of our family members. In most cases we choose to give our custom to other local businesses, but every so often something else will prevail us to do otherwise--sometimes it's convenience, sometimes it's price, sometimes because we think their product is superior.

I don't really want this to spiral into a politio-economic discussion. For one thing, that takes away from horatio's post when he is looking for opinions on AIs. For another, it belongs more properly under the "Other Topics" forum.
But for the record, your anecdotal evidence differs from what I've collected in conversations through the years with various employees. This is a good thing, because it means that not all chain resort employees are paid at the same abysmal level as the ones I have spoken with! I don't have a good head for numbers, but there was an article about Jamaica that was quoted either here or another forum. A person employed full time at one of the large resorts there didn't earn enough money in one year to cover the cost of school books, uniforms, and school supplies for his or her children. Either the name of the resort was withheld or I have simply forgotten it. But anyway, it proves the point. Maybe tiv or liza or anyone else here remembers reading that article and can jump in with the specific details.

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Old Oct 18th, 2006, 04:06 PM
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Sorry ej, can't recall reading that article. I'll avoid adding my political thoughts on AIs here and just say....

To the OP: To me it depends what you want to do on this vacation. I really think if you plan to explore the island you visit then AI is not the way to go, financialy speaking. If you plan a resort-based vacation it may work out better.

Some places, Like Negril, Jamaica, have lots of non-AI hotels and bars and restaurants and live music all along the beach (and cliffs) and people enjoy the casual bar and restaurant hopping in a sarong and no shoes, and interactions with locals and tourists that this type of vacation offers.

Some people dislike that because the beach is public and so they are asked to buy things, or they'd rather bar-hop within an AI resort and leave the wallet in the safe.

Some places are all resort and not staying at an AI means there isn't much to do.

We like to visit Jamaica and we often move around hte isalnd in a rental do not do AI ourselves.

But I can see the appeal if one is primarily interested in the beach/pool and resort-based watersports.
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Old Oct 18th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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PS: I'll just add...carefuly check the policies of any AI re: meals, drinks and activities. Some only serve certain meals at certain times and if you snooze, you lose. Some stop serving alcohol at a certain time, some require signing up for activities in advance or making restaurant reservations by standing in line ahead...etc.

One nice thing about a non-AI vacation is that you can spread your money and time around to places that you enjoy, and not return to a restaurant or bar that you don' aren't committed to eat or drink anywhere by having prepaid.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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We love all-inclusives for our family - but not all resorts have the same level of quality food, drink and service!!!!! Iberostars, Rius, and Palace Resorts will not disappoint.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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I should also add that people can hear what a great value the all-inclusive resort can be - and it can! However, the value is in Mexico or Punta Cana not the small Caribbean islands - those are expensive. We took our 2 boys on a family spring break to the Riu Tequila in 2005 for $4,000 all inclusive - air, food, drink, transfers from airport, etc.... It was fabulous and an awesome value - but it is Mexico. Most resorts are top notch and have their own water filtration system - like NASA uses.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 09:01 AM
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Based on prices I've seen I still don't think they are good deals. Obviously they are making money hand over fist...It has been my experience that you can always do better yourself w/a little research. I agree w/ej as well, most of the locals that are employed are just happy to have a job. Even if it is, at what we would consider, less than adequate pay.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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I've never done an all-inclusive, but I really don't think they're for me. I don't like to stay in big resorts, and that's typically where the AI's are. Plus, like most people who aren't a fan of them, I'd rather get to eat and drink at different places rather than at the same place every night.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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Also, if drinks are included, some people will keep drinking because it's "free"? This means being around a lot of obnoxious drunks. Even I would tend to drink more if it's unlimited.
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Old Oct 20th, 2006, 04:49 AM
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To me, all-inclusive essentially equates to 'pre-paid.'

As this thread shows, opinion varies as to whether the value received at AI resorts is less than, is the same as, or is greater than an equivalent amount of money one could spend at a resort of similar quality, but which isn't marketed on an AI basis.

To me, value received for a product should be proportional to the degree of structure, the strictness of the terms imposed on one's investment. In other words, if I buy a nonrefundable airfare ticket weeks in advance, I'm not going to be satisfied with a mere 10 per cent discount off the cost of a regular fare, or, conversely, a few thousand airline points or free drinks thrown in. I'll be expecting a LOT of extra value - like the 40 to 60 per cent discounts I actually receive (bearing in mind that the 'rack rate' for airfares might well be something of an artificial price structure invented by the airline). So if I buy a prepaid vacation, I'll be expecting a lot more than just a room upgrade - I'd expect nothing less than entire categories of hotel upgrade, etc.

It could be argued that some of that extra value is in the assurance of guaranteed accomodation space - often at peak periods - and at a fixed price. The tricky part is deciding if these and such quality improvements as one receives is worth **enough** extra value to oneself, given the considerable flexibility one is giving up in exchange. This is a subjective consideration, and nobody can decide it for someone else.

The body of your post contains a lot of concerns about things that really don't have much to do with the way a resort is marketed, such as food/intestinal issues (many resorts have their own water purification systems, to avoid this very problem: you can try contacting individual resorts, if this is a concern.) You also might need to conjure up specific temperature ranges that would satisfy you - what is 'warmer' to you might mean impossibly hot to me, or conversely not hot enough. Once you have some specific temps in mind, you then might wish to compare these with historical climatic data for a given place that you can find online.

Bon voyage, and good luck.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 02:36 PM
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We stayed at an AI resort at Tamarindo Beach in northern Costa Rica. At the same time, friends stayed at a nearby B&B. We envied them.

The 6-room B&B and its food was magnificent and the owners really cared to help visitors experience the best of the region. The host couple depend on good word of mouth to keep people coming so they really work at it. They have much more at stake than a hotel's junior employee.

Back at our resort, the only tour advice they would give was to sign up with the guides who rented space in their lobby. Through their B&B, our friends arranged a day long guided trip for far less money.

As part of a wedding group, we stayed at another "5-star" all-inclusive resort on the Mexican mayan riviera. Very ordinary food, entertainment, service and accomodations.

My wife and I travel to France and Italy regularly and we prefer to stay at small, owner operated inns or quality B&B's. We check references fairly closely and we haven't gone wrong yet.

Most all-inclusive resorts are enclaves that don't stimulate exploration and experimentation. I'd rather blend into the community and enjoy the local atmosphere.
Old Oct 25th, 2006, 04:02 PM
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Interesting article in the brand new CN traveler section on some all inclusives on the Mexican Caribbean, along with a short article comparing prices at an all inclusive vs. a Ritz Carlton.
The Ritz Carlton actually ended up being $100 cheaper, and the accomodations and food were naturally a lot better.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 06:37 PM
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You can really get some good deals at some of the smaller AI's. They may not offer all the pomp and circumstance like the bigger ones but can be located where you can least blend in with locals(if you want) and not feel you could be anywhere else unless you ventured out. I stayed at small AI in Jamaica called the Negril Inn. Again small intimate but in a great beach location. I was 5 minutes walk to all the local beach bars and entertainment. Cost me only about $130 per night for 2 people on Travelocity and that included all food and drinks. It all depends what you want.
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