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All-Inclusive Resorts: Culture or No Culture?


Mar 29th, 2011, 09:54 AM
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All-Inclusive Resorts: Culture or No Culture?

I am in my fourth year at the University of Western Ontario working towards a certificate in professional writing. I am currently enrolled in a course focusing on writing for publications. I am writing a feature article focused on the "wall" that many tropical resorts create between what can be found inside them in comparison to the surrounding authentic culture. If you have any thoughts or opinions on this idea, I would love to hear from you. That is - if you've ever felt like the resort was North Americanized, and if you have, what type of measures you've had to take in order to feel like you are truly experiencing a new culture. Further, on the assumption that many of you have travelled to at least a few resorts, if you found any similarities or differences in the ways culture is presented.

Thank you for your time and I appreciate your shared thoughts.

I must also request a name and e-mail of the respondent - as my professor requires a reference list for my sources.

Thanks again,

smerki is offline  
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Mar 29th, 2011, 04:17 PM
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I doubt I have anything you can use, but, I'll say it anyway. I don't stay at resorts ever, partly for the reasons you describe, also because I think they're a waste of money.

If you do stay at them, and don't leave the resort, the only people you will meet from the country you're visiting are the people who work at the resort. Not exactly a representation of the culture.

I won't leave my name and email address here, been advised not to. Leave yours and I'll write you.
JeanH is offline  
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Mar 29th, 2011, 04:29 PM
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My views and experiences are similar to the post above. I never have and doubt I ever will stay in a walled-compound type of resort. Because it is expensive and sounds boring and uninteresting.

I travel to BE in new places and take part in things around me. There is no divide between me and local culture (other than language barrier) because I stay right in towns and do my best to vacation as if I lived there.

Also as above, you need to put your email on your profile if you want people to contact you. It's not wise or good form for us to post ours here for everyone to see.
suze is offline  
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Mar 30th, 2011, 12:13 PM
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Hi, there! I think I have an interesting perspective because embedding myself in the culture is the main reason I travel and to that end I've learned to speak Spanish and usually stay in the homes of local families, often under very humble circumstances. When I'm traveling with my husband we tend to stay in small places in village settings, cook most of our own meals, and shop in the locals' markets; we have always avoided "resorts"....

...until last December when our daughter and her husband asked us to join them near Playa del Carmen at the Mayan Palace Riviera Maya; they have a huge time share plan and had never been to that part of Mexico.

I feel really comfortable in Mexico but the resort was a culture shock. It was HUGE and I ended up glad we had rented a car so we could get away every day so we could snorkel, visit ruins, cenotes, and a monkey sanctuary, shop at locals' markets and produce stands, and eat at locals' places in other towns (like Tulum) that my husband and I had enjoyed on a previous trip.

Our suite of rooms was beautiful and comfortable with a great view from the balconies (all 3 of them!) and a nice kitchen where we cooked most of our meals. The resort paths, pools, golf course, restaurants, etc. were nicely maintained and interesting in an other-worldly way. It felt as though every effort was taken to be sure you were confused about what country you were in - it did not feel like Latin America at all and the 2 meals we ate at the resort were Italian and sushi (both excellent). Except for a few extended conversations I sought with gardening and cleaning staff (in Spanish - a highlight) our contact with locals within the resort walls was basically nonexistent.

We loved the time with our kids but don't plan to ever stay in a resort again. I wouldn't even choose them in the US so why would I choose them when traveling on foreign soil? You can contact me through this website: www.becaproject.org
hopefulist is offline  
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Mar 30th, 2011, 01:39 PM
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There is no culture at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, and I have stayed at a few, but also have stayed non-AI. The only way to get any local flavor is to rent a car or take a taxi and get out and about. So, why would a person want to stay at one in Mexico?

My reasons are this: On some trips, especially the ones with our kids along, we are "vacationers" as opposed to "travelers." Most of our vacations are to get away from the long miserable winter, and the time of year we prefer to leave is in early March. A trip to Florida will not guarantee us warm weather, the ocean is cold, and there isn't much to speak of for snorkeling. Most Caribbean locations (such as the U.S. Virgin Islands) are more expensive than Mexico for a family to fly to (from our location).

I've priced out staying in a condo vs an all-inclusive, and it comes out about the same (there are some really good sales that are offered for AIs). The convenience of an all-inclusive is huge. Sometimes after swimming, snorkeling, and playing ball with the kids in the pool all day, it's nice to not have to figure out where to go for dinner. Sometimes it's nice to not have to shop for groceries and cook. Other guests at boutique hotels probably wouldn't appreciate a family that likes to laugh and get loud playing games in the pool.

I get tired of the attitude that if you stay in an all-inclusive, you are a lesser person because you are not a "traveler." I'm tired of reading (not in this particular thread, but it has been written in other ones) that most people who stay at all-inclusives are uncultured, overweight lushes that lay on the beach like beached whales all day. Sometimes it's just nice to go where it's green and warm, and spend time with your family swimming and laughing and appreciating each other without any other things to think about.

Having said all of that, after having stayed at an all-inclusive resort two years in a row due to change in our travel plans, I don't plan to go back to one for a long time.
janenicole is offline  
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Mar 30th, 2011, 02:33 PM
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If you get those negative things why contribute them to this thread?
No one even said anything negative about AIs, except you!
suze is offline  
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Mar 30th, 2011, 02:47 PM
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Not in this particular thread, suze, but in past threads over the course of a few years (I remember reading that comment). In general, there an attitude of negativity towards all-inclusives on this forum, and I get tired of it, so I guess I "snapped" during my response on this particular thread. Maybe I'm having a cranky day!
janenicole is offline  
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:41 AM
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Great comments. This kind of dialogue is very important in how we relate to each other when we visit other places. The difference is between traveling and visiting. When one travels, one goes to a resort, cruise ship, amusement park, etc. When one visits, one visits a country, the people and culture. When you travel, you are vert detached from the surrounding community and many times have no idea if your actions are either good or bad. When your visiting, one goes as a guest, receiving whatever the people of that country may have to offer. These can come in the most humble of offerings to the most luxuries of offerings. The idea is that we all are getting soemthing from our trips. It's that you are either receiving, or taking.
James_LopezEricksen is offline  
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 01:04 AM
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Sorry, I was tired when writing my first response. One of the mistakes I wanted to correct was to change the word luxurious from luxuries.

And to add: Whether you travel or visit when you vacation, go and be blessed.
James_LopezEricksen is offline  
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Apr 9th, 2011, 03:32 PM
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OP, there are tons and tons of threads on this forum, Trip Advisor and other travel forums that have debated AI and non AI for years. They are all the same. It's an old and boring debate. You have the haters and you have the lovers. There is really no in between.

I agree with janenicole regarding what she said about the attitudes of people who don't like AI's. I also get tired of reading misconceptions over and over about AI's resorts on all forums especially from the people who have never even stayed at one, but still feel compelled to comment on something they no absolutley nothing about. I would find their arguement a little more compelling if their information came from a true experience and not what they think it is. To which effect I feel I must defend AI's in general, and I do constantly. Giving an incorrect impression or assumption to a potentional consumer is not fair to anyone.

And, when I gave my honest thoughts and opinion when we stayed at a non-AI in Playa del Carmen (which I hated) after many AI trips there before, believe me the AI haters didn't appreciate my comments as it didn't agree with theirs, so in all it's a no win issue.

We have done AI's, non-AI's and cruises and like AI's the best because it's a fit for us. We are not the type that lay around the beach/pool all day. We get off the resort, explore, sightsee, eat out, visit historical sites, do activities, etc., etc., etc. To us, the only difference between an AI and a non-AI is at an AI the food and drinks and some activities are included while at a non-AI they are not. I do feel sorry for the people who chose an AI resort and never leave. They are missing out on a really great destination and it's not the true purpose of having an AI experience in the first place. It's for convenience and for cost efficiency, but that's something else to be debated about.

You can communicate with me here:

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