When I was single and just beginning my career in travel, I had a prejudice against all-inclusive resorts. Self righteous in my quest to see and understand the world better, I determined that such places defeated the single most important reason to travel: to dig in to another culture and emerge knowing it better.
The longer I have traveled as a career the more I have come to understand that travel has many different purposes and many different benefits. There isn’t only one right way to travel. I once believed that travel was a very narrowly defined pursuit, I don’t believe that any more.
I think it’s all right for people to vacation and go on holiday, not always wandering for the purposes of education and enrichment at a level only National Geographic reporters are capable of. The phrase, “different strokes for different folks” probably sums up the way I feel now. What I think is most important is that people DO travel, DO visit other countries during their lifetime. But that’s another post for another day…
During my travels, I’ve had a few chances to visit all-inclusive resorts and I found myself very skeptical at first. Not unlike the way I am still a bit skeptical about cruising. Believing all-inclusive resorts to be overcrowded, dirty, filled with gross food that I could just as easily get at home and absolutely not relaxing because of an over-abundance of scheduled activities — I didn’t believe I would enjoy the experience. But I did want to try it out. If for no other reason than, as I’ve traveled, I’ve become more curious about all forms of travel and vacationing. More open minded instead of narrow minded. More curious about things I thought I would never have had an interest in when I was younger and far more unrealistically idealistic.In each case, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some aspect of the resorts I have visited.
So when I heard of this video series that First Choice is doing called ‘Whisked Away,’ I did wonder what their findings would be! The series follows surprise trips where people, with the same kind of prejudice that I once had, are whisked away to all-inclusive resorts and asked if their experience in any way changes their mind.
In particular, when I watched this episode filmed in Morocco, I really felt myself relating to what the women in the video went through. I didn’t attend the same resort as those women, but I did visit Club Med La Palmeraie in Marrakech and while it was not my first all-inclusive resort, it did represent an experience that I was probably the most skeptical of. I thought that staying so far outside the walls of the medina, so far from the souks and the “real culture” of Marrakech that there was no way I would be able to experience Morocco for the incredible country that it is. Just in case I was right, I scheduled a longer journey through a larger part of the country for immediately after that visit.Boy was I dumbfounded! Just like the women in the video, I was able to experience Marrakech and many of its cultural delights. Yet I was also able to return to the resort every night and decompress. Back in my room, I was able to journal and really think through my experiences during the day where, because it was quiet, clean and well appointed, I had the space to separate myself just enough from the organized chaos of Marrakech to really truly absorb all I learned. I also found the food to be far better than I could have ever imagined. There were several restaurants and so many different styles of food, including those native to Morocco like tagine and couscous, that I felt at mealtimes my plates were a sort of trip around the world all by themselves. I also wasn’t forced into any activities I didn’t want to take part in but I was able to try the trapeze (something I’m never brave enough to discover at home in New York City) plus I watched a horse show and polo game. All, in the extra time that surrounded my greater exploration of Marrakech outside the walls of the resort.
Fast forward to today, where I’ve changed my status from single to happily ensconced in a loving relationship with a man who works very hard at an office all week … and it turns out that when we have time off together, we do enjoy digging in to other cultures (as evidenced by trips thus far to England, France and Italy) however, what we really want most of all these days: is to just relax.
All of the sudden, I can relate to the idea of an all-inclusive holiday a lot more than I ever could before. Now, I am far more like the people at the end of the ‘Whisked Away’ videos, than at the beginning. I just understand completely where they have their place. And quite honestly, I wouldn’t mind visiting the all-inclusive resort in this video so Danté and I can relax at a good beach and at a pool in the same day as well as have the option of going sailing.
We’re planning our first actual vacation together now and when we each made our lists of things that were important to us for an entire week away from Danté’s job and from my writing assignments — it turned out that both our lists really epitomized some place where the service is exceptional, plentiful amenities are included and few decisions must be made. Where, really, convenience is the order of the day and not planning of itineraries, activities and directions. Is that an all-inclusive resort? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out…