The pound is pretty weak against competing currencies such as the Euro right now, which is causing concern for holidaymakers. More and more Brits are opting for ‘staycations’ within these shores, but let’s be honest – you deserve some sunshine this summer. While the unpredictable nature of the British climate can be charming and provides a never-ending supply of small talk with strangers, the temptation to jet off to warmer climes is ever-present.
This begs the question as to how to get the most for our money when plotting a holiday. Nobody wants to save up what appears like a hefty sum of their salary only to find that it barely covers a fast food meal once converted to a new currency.
An all-inclusive package deal may look like the perfect solution for families on a budget, ensuring that a flat rate is laid down for accommodation, entertainment and sustenance without the need to dip further into our pockets, but is this always the most cost effective solution? As always, the answer depends on your personal circumstances, and where you will be laying your beach towel.
The first thing you’ll need to investigate is whether your definition of all-inclusive matches that of your resort. Most such packages will include lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks on top of the obligatory breakfast, but what is on the menu in these instances? If you’re restricted by a set menu you may find that dietary requirements are not matched, for example, or in many cases all-inclusive catering takes the form of a sad looking buffet – not the most tranquil and romantic of settings if the kids have been paced off to an activity club for the night and you finally have some time alone.
There’s also the fact that you just don’t fancy what is on offer. You’re on holiday in a professional resort, not an orphanage – you deserve to eat and drink what you find appealing, not what is served up to you. Of course, the flexibility of timings may also be restrictive. All resorts serve breakfast within certain timeframes, which is wholly necessary and understandable, but needing to be on stand-by to make it back to your hotel for lunch and dinner may be fine if you are simply relaxing by the pool, but far from ideal if you plan of getting out and exploring.
Of course, there are advantages to an all-inclusive package holiday. You can tailor your requirements and pay for everything in advance, including extras such as spa packages or golf courses if available, and take all the unwelcome stress of decision-making out of your time away. Ultimately, though, we’d like to take a look at the financial implications of an all-inclusive holiday and offer some insight into whether you’ll actually be saving yourself money in the longer term.
Having investigated the website of a major high street travel agent, we managed to source a three-star resort in Majorca that would accommodate two adults and two children at a cost of £1,874 for an all-inclusive 7-day break (excluding local tourist tax). This would offer an apartment to sleep all four occupants, transfers to and from the airport, entertainment for adults and children, three buffet meals per day, and two themed dinners during the week.
A self-catering three-star apartment in the same region on the same dates for the same number of people is available for just £350. Budget in around €150 per day for seven days to accommodate your needs and the whole holiday will cost a little over £1,200 – in addition to offering considerably more flexibility on how and where you spend your money, and ensuring that you will be supporting your destination’s local economy. If you imagine that you could end up spending possibly half of that amount outside of the all-inclusive resort, you’ll find your expenses quickly piling up.
Ultimately, whatever holiday you choose depends on what you value most. If you book early enough and find the right deal an all-inclusive holiday could be the ideal solution, especially if you are looking for a relaxing break as a family – taking the need to constantly fumble for local currency for a drink or an ice cream out of the equation can actually be a huge selling point.
More adventurous travellers on a less restricted budget, however, may prefer the self-catering experience, especially as it’s simple to save money by buying local and stocking up from a supermarket. Take all of these factors into consideration, as you may be surprised to learn that an all-inclusive holiday is not always the cost-cutting exercise that you imagine it to be if you end up travelling further afield or eating out with anything approaching regularity.
In a recent survey by Post Office Travel Money, it was reported that 60% or more people found their all-inclusive holidays not worth the money, and that they still spent a lot of time out of the resort, particularly if on a two week break. In order to eat or drink what they wanted to, the additional charges for ‘off menu’ or ‘off wine list’ were expensive inside the resort, with brand names on alcohol and other drinks costing more than restaurants and bars outside.
European destinations such as the Costa del Sol, the Algarve and Malta all worked out more expensive than those in Turkey or Greece.