A long way from straw huts and beads

The all inclusive resort has come a long way from the unlit straw huts on a beachfront sharing communal washing facilities that was the idea of Gérard Blitz when he opened the first Club Med in Mallorca in 1950, and you no longer pay for your little extras with beads. These days ‘all inclusive’ can be anything from three square meals a day and all your drinks to absolute luxury, with twenty-four hour service, spa pampering, intriguing excursions and food worthy of top international restaurants. But one thing they all have in common is that you pay up front, so you know exactly where your holiday pound is going and you don’t have any surprises at the end of an otherwise perfect holiday.

Something to suit all tastes

All inclusive resorts come in every shape and size, from the hotel and bungalow complex to the romantic thatched cottage on a beach, with no other sound than the lapping of the waves to disturb you, which is probably why they are so popular with honeymooners and as an exotic destination to celebrate weddings, where the seclusion and relaxation of a faraway shore is hard to beat. Some resorts are designed for specific vacation interests, whether they cater for adults, accept couples only, or are geared toward families, with facilities such as craft centres, games rooms and water parks to keep children of all ages entertained.

Caribbean islands such as Aruba, St Lucia and Antigua specialise in top quality, slickly-run all inclusive hotels and facilities, while some of the most spectacular resorts can also be found in Indian Ocean destinations, such as Sri Lanka, Goa and the Seychelles. But all inclusive doesn’t mean long-haul because this style of holiday is becoming more widely available across European destinations. Great all inclusive resorts can be found in Cyprus, Turkey and Canary Island destinations, including Tenerife Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

What is in your wallet when you arrive is there when you leave

Probably the biggest benefit of an all inclusive resort is that they offer everything you need for a totally relaxed, carefree holiday. From the moment you settle in you can forget all about whether that extra bottle of wine or ice creams for the kids will take you over your holiday budget, because it’s all been paid for before you even left home, and will include the price of flights, transfers, accommodation, and meals, drinks and entertainment during your stay.

You may find that meals are served buffet-style and that drinks are locally produced and not big name brands, as with all inclusive holidays you definitely get what you pay for. You will almost certainly find that your resort will be within easy reach of the beach, so that you can have direct access to the all services, while enjoying the beach surroundings. But just because you’ve paid an all-in rate up front don’t treat your resort like a luxury prison. Try out local restaurants, shops, bars and sites to get a feel for the place and its people.