The resort we stayed at in Turkey on our recent holiday was one of these all-inclusive five-star jobbies. The bloke and I are not normally “all-inclusive five-star” sort of people. We’re more “tent in a field”, “youth hostel” or "self-catering" types. I can't claim this is due to any high-minded moral sense. If we stay somewhere fancy we can afford two days, whereas if we camp, we can afford to stay a week. Since having tiny children and decent salaries, however, we’ve (with varying degrees of reluctance) discovered staying in hotels.
When the opportunity came up to have a beach holiday in a country where we could actually afford “all-inclusive five-star”, though, it seemed a good time to try it and see what the fuss was about.
We arrived late at night, because that’s how these things work with package deals and charter flights. Humuhumu dealt with it admirably well after having fallen happily asleep on the plane and subsequently being woken multiple times for the bus journey from the airport to the hotel and finally when her parents insisted on raiding the late-night buffet ten minutes before it shut because they hadn’t had any dinner. The buffet was pretty amazing, given that it was almost 1 AM. We were given wristbands that allowed us to wander freely around the hotel eating and drinking All The Things (and there was a hell of a lot on offer everywhere), and our room cards.
We slept until late morning. This was one unanticipated bonus of travelling two time zones ahead of British Summer Time: it meant Humuhumu was time-shifted two hours later than usual. We could, therefore, have leisurely evening meals, walks along the beach and drinks at the outside bar before we went to bed. Unlike the other parents of small children who were staying at the resort, we’d not had the foresight or ability to bring along siblings with no children of their own and/or grandparents. The time-shift allowed us to claw back some of the disadvantage of not having any babysitters. (The minimum age for babysitting services offered by the resort was four years old.)
Breakfast was our first opportunity to observe the other occupants of the resort. I’d say at least 75% were retired couples, which had the unfortunate effect of making me think constantly of Jeremy Paxman’s crack during the UK’s recent general election: “My generation has blown our inheritance on Mediterranean holidays and is refusing to die. If you want to be rid of us, pray for cold winters, or vote.” Judging from the languages on the signage and menus, most were either British, German or Russian. The remaining 25% were couples with very young children and their grandparents, or couples having a romantic getaway. And there were four very tanned, very tattooed, very fit young men from Essex who’d clearly made a terrible misjudgment of the tenor of the place. They were quite sweet and seemed to be making the best of it, which couldn’t have been that difficult when it’s 35 C and you can bounce between beautiful swimming pools and the crystal-clear Med and drink beer and eat ice cream all day. Still, we felt a little sad for them. But not for long as we were too busy enjoying all those things ourselves.
The food on offer was pretty spectacular, and you could eat surprisingly healthy and delicious meals without much effort.
You could also eat a lot of pastries afterward, which we did.
I revelled in having no cooking or washing up to do, although I don’t find those tasks as onerous as I did a few years ago.
Still, it’s not an indulgence I would want on a yearly basis, even if I could afford it, which I can’t. I feel faintly uncomfortable with a level of service that includes fresh towels every day (honestly, we’re not that filthy), although I’m fully on board with a minibar that gets restocked daily. It was also very loud with thumpy music every night and we had to keep the balcony door closed until 3 AM or so. Our resort had evening entertainment that only went on until midnight, but all the five-stars are on the same strip of beach in the town and cater for different clientele so the late-night partying can be heard by everyone. That wasn’t so bad on the first night, when it was only 28 C during the day, but it went up to 38 C by the end of the week and it got pretty stuffy even though the humidity stayed pretty low. I’m not fond of air conditioning, having grown up in the tropics where you’re constantly going from “dry frigid arctic” indoors to “wall of sweaty heat” outside in the summer, so not being able to have fresh cool air wafting into our room all night caused a little bit of resentment.
I might like to try it again when the children are older and we could take advantage of the child care on offer. Then we could use more of the resort’s facilities, like the spa and the restaurants, and perhaps go out into the town at night. But I wouldn’t be that fussed if we never went “all-inclusive five-star” again.( Photos: eating drinking napping sea pool )