The last time I went to an all-inclusive resort, I came home and wrote this review on TripAdvisor.
For those of you who don’t want to click through, it describes my time in a beautiful resort in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where my room was lovely, the provided food was good and there was excellent snorkeling right off the hotel’s floating pier.
It also describes some of the sexual harassment that I endured while I stayed in the hotel, all of it from the hotel’s own staff. On the first night the front desk clerk called my room at 1:00 in the morning, breathing heavily and asking if I remembered him. In the cafeteria, one of the cooks grabbed a breadstick and held it against his genitals, swinging it around in the air and asking if it was “too big” for me. There were other incidents as well, and while I can’t speak to this particular property I did return home just in time to see a news feature in my home country discussing hidden cameras and two-way mirrors that allowed hotel staff in some hotels in the area to spy on their guests in the bathroom.
The thing that really got on my nerves was that I had come to Sharm el-Sheikh to learn to scuba dive, but I felt so unsafe on land (thanks to the hotel staff) that I was too scared to sign up for the lessons. I missed out on my chance to explore underwater (though I finally did learn on Roatan, Honduras, two years later).
All of that brings me to this summer, and my rash decision to book another solo all-inclusive holiday. Why solo? Mostly because it was an impulse buy and I didn’t want to spend time texting dozens of people to see who didn’t have plans in the last weeks of August. A few days after I booked the trip the price actually doubled, so I’m glad I jumped on the deal when I did. Why all-inclusive resorts? Because it was cheaper than any airfares I could find to the same destination (Cuba) and I feel like I earned some R&R after being so sick in Peru.
A lot of travelers look down on all-inclusive resorts and say they’re not “real” travel. I certainly agree that an all-inclusive holiday doesn’t come close to other types of travel in terms of immersing yourself in the culture, seeing amazing sights, practicing your language skills, interacting with the locals and even learning through your mistakes. However, an all-inclusive vacation offers something else: a chance to relax. I didn’t just get sick in Peru; I got sick in Peru but pushed through the pain (and the puke) to make the most of my trip, all while working remotely on assignments and papers for my full-time grad school course load. If that hasn’t earned me a few days of sitting on the beach (with lots of sunscreen, under an umbrella, reading good books) then I don’t know what should.
My travel motto tends to be “_________ isn’t going anywhere.” In this case, Cuba isn’t going anywhere. I can go to all-inclusive resorts, sit on the beach and drink pina coladas for a week this summer, and Cuba will still be there next year or the year after if I want to return to see the country, experience its culture and meet its people.