The All-Inclusive debate

The decision by First Choice, part of the TUI group of travel companies, to offer All Inclusive on all of its holidays has sparked an intense debate about the ethics of All Inclusive basis – but for the demanding family holiday market, is All Inclusive an attractive proposition?

Many parents have experienced the frustration of meal times where children are confronted with unfamiliar offerings which they simply refuse to eat – which may even be what at first glance is unadventurous but doesn’t resemble the same dish served up at home. Whilst parents want their children to try different things, spending copious amounts of cash on their young ones gastronimic adventure is not an option – and isn’t practical when sitting in a restaurant having already been served.

All Inclusive family holiday fayre is typically served up buffet style, particularly where the hotel or resort offers more than one restaurant, and this does at leat provide a safeguard against the scenario described above with returning for a second choice dish available – an additional upside is that children can gain an element of independence by being given responsibility to choose their own food and with a guiding hand from a parent can be a little more adventurous too.

Luxury hotels offering All Inclusive often provide for a variety of tasts with a la carte restaurants complementing the buffet, typically at a supplement but occasionally holidaymakers will be allowed one or more night in an a la carte – so those on the family holiday who wish to dine in relaxed surroundings may do so.

So the benefits of All Inclusive family holidays are there for those who need them. However, the disadvantage of the All Inclusive offering, as argued by some of First Choice’s critics, is that it is damaging for the local traders, particularly restaurateurs and coffee shops – let us not forget that many popular resorts have developed rapidly and intelligently thanks to money brought in to the local region through increasing tourism. Critics have noted that, for example, in Turkey alone Thomas Cook offer 135 All Inclusive properties and that alternatives to this are diminishing (see this article in Travel Weekly). Indeed the concept of All Inclusive resorts means that guests have little incentive to leave the hotel, potentially damaging further elements of the local trade who rely on holidaymaker to purchase their products.

Ultimately the decision to go for an All Inclusive family holiday will depend on personal circumstances and whilst the decision by First Choice has attracted its critics, for those who desire the benefits of All Inclusive there are some luxury hotels who fulfil this desire very well. Our recommendations can be reviewed here.