It was 10 pm and a lovely, cozy Friday night. Stepping out from a hot shower, I put on some soothing music and made two cups of yummy hot chocolate. I was having a great chat with my husband when the phoned beeped a few times in succession.
A mobile phone has never been an attraction to me, but there was something about those text messages that I couldn’t ignore. They were from Soniya. ‘Sorry to bother you at this hour. I and Richard are looking out for online work assignments. Part-time and flexible timings, so we can do those after office hours and weekends! Please let me know if you come across any’.
I was surprised to hear that! Soniya and Richard were just back from their honeymoon that very day. So, such messages were a bit odd. As it was already late, I didn’t want to dig deeper. Until I went to bed, those messages kept flashing in my mind.
Next morning, I invited Sonia and Richard for a Sunday brunch.
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The doorbell rang and we welcomed them. As they got comfortable on the sofa, my husband volunteered to get some drinks. We began to chat but I just couldn’t ignore the massive change in their chemistry. It didn’t seem to be an earth-shattering reason but didn’t seem trivial either. I quickly decided to have a one-on-one with Sonia.
I asked her to help me with the marinades in the kitchen and let my husband and Richard set up the barbeque.
“What happened Soniya? Is everything alright? Sorry, but it is very obvious that something is wrong between you and Richard”, I said in a worrying tone.
“I knew you would notice this. Either case, I would have told you. Well, last evening, I saw him with a pile of honeymoon bills and it was clear that he was a bit shocked and tensed!”, she said sobbingly.
Wiping her tears, she continued, “I know in a marriage you have to make adjustments, but I was not ready for it so soon”.
“I always had this fancy, fairy tale image about our honeymoon. I was pleasantly surprised when I came to know that he was planning this for months. Super excited, I couldn’t wait for that day. He booked a deluxe suite in a 4-star resort with their half board package for 3 weeks. It included a buffet breakfast and any one meal (lunch or dinner) as per our choice”, she said while trying to regain her self.
Recollecting the journey, she said, “While on our way to our honeymoon he told me about the ‘package inclusions’ briefly. He painted a very vivid picture and in my mind were already there, looking excited and enjoying like crazy.”
“We reached the hotel and the duty manager welcomed us. He started to explain our package in detail and as weird as it may seem, it was a routine check-in formality! He explained that the meal plan includes breakfast and any one meal. It would mostly be a buffet but might be ala carte with a fixed menu if occupancy rates are very low. Anything that we order additionally would be chargeable. Oh, and he reminded quickly that one round of drinks is always inclusive and we smiled at each other with sarcasm”, she said with hysteria.
She continued, “It looked like he was going to nuke us with his ‘what-is-inclusive’ missile. We politely stopped him out of utter tiredness and fatigue. We insisted him to escort us to our rooms first and agreed to talk later at length to understand the ‘routine check-in procedure’. With embarrassment, he agreed and obliged. We headed for our room and crashed on our bed. It was dinner time when we opened our eyes. A huge buffet at the restaurant looked very inviting. Enjoying our dinner, we had a great time talking to each other. Hand in hand, we took a light walk under a full moon night. Closing the door behind us, we enjoyed a romantic night.”
“Somewhere during dawn, we fell asleep as we were up pretty much the whole night. It was around 11 am that we woke up. Feeling hungry, we wanted to have a light breakfast of juice, oatmeal, and some toast. But when we reached the restaurant, the steward politely educated us about the ‘timings’ we had to follow! He said the breakfast is served only until 10:30 am. If we wanted anything beyond those hours, we would have to order it and it will get added to our bill! We were taken aback. Timings! That too for honeymooners! We understand the importance of a timeslot but what about flexibility? Couldn’t we have just a few items from the menu after the ‘deadline’ had passed? Why couldn’t they have a snack bar open all day? For a moment I thought I was at a school summer camp! But it was our honeymoon and we didn’t want to argue, so we ordered a few items from the a la carte menu. While signing the breakfast check, Richard explained awkwardly that he booked a half board package as he thought the all-inclusive package was way too pricey”, she said irritatingly.
Sounding frustrated, she continued, “The second night we noticed that some of the dishes were repeated. Their names were different but they tasted the same as served on the first night. We asked the restaurant manager about this to which he politely made a note. It was status quo, as almost every other night the food was getting repetitive. Not to spoil our mood, we never argued and chose to neglect it.”“It was around the 4th or 5th day of our honeymoon and we were back from a local excursion. As we were too tired, we asked if they can serve dinner in our room. They refused to oblige citing the reason that the buffet was too elaborate and serving it in the room would be difficult. We asked if they could send two portions of a few items from the buffet. We thought it was a fair ask but they were adamant. They were pressing on the point that food served in the room accounted for room service and it felt as if they were shoving the rulebook down our throats. Long story short, they were asking us to pay, just because we wanted the food in our room”, she said fumingly.
Continuing, she said, “I literally shouted at the hotel manager and said their priorities should be their guests. At times, they should be open to a few deviations to the rules! Rules, after all, should benefit the guests, not harass them! We booked for 3 weeks there and how come they didn’t have any provision or consideration for long staying guests? This outburst was bound to happen as I was silent since the beginning but never really showed it.”
“To diffuse the situation, Richard said he will handle them. I hung up the phone and vented all my anger on Richard. He himself was shocked and surprised but wanted to lighten the mood. Sounding corny, Richard said, ‘I am your genie and loaded with cash. It’s our honeymoon, so forget the bill’. That night, we ordered dinner from room service and paid for it. But the guilt of ordering from room service, when you know your inclusive buffet meal is already in the restaurant, was overwhelming! As days passed, almost every alternate day we had to order from room service”, she said.
Further on, she said, “We were getting bored of the repetitive menu every day. The menu looked different but had a similar taste. Quite often we ordered a few items from the a la carte menu. Like the mouth-watering barbequed chicken or steak. For the moment, they would satisfy our cravings and taste buds. But somewhere deep inside, we always had the guilt of having spent that kind of money.”
“You know, we like our drinks. Beer, cocktails, wines, we like them all. How could we not have them on our honeymoon and only limit ourselves to one round of ‘inclusive’ drinks? So, we ordered them until we were satisfied. But there was a budget bomb that was always ticking. As days passed, we made a pact to not think about budget and money. We decided to indulge in food, drinks, and activities even if they were not inclusive. It was our honeymoon after all!”“It was the last day of our honeymoon and we were waiting near the reception to check out. The final bill was staggering and the numbers were rolling in front of our eyes as if we were staring at a casino slot machine. The only difference being, instead of winning, we had lost a lot of money. Luckily our credit card saved us. But we are paying interests every month.”
“Overall the experience was mediocre. It could have been memorable if we had done some more research and planning. We were really looking for a relaxing and easy-going honeymoon without any worry and this constant need to monitor our wallets. But it’s all done now and we need to take care in the future. That’s the reason I messaged all my friends frantically yesterday asking for part-time work, as we want the money to pay our credit card bill as soon as possible”, she concluded in a disappointing tone.
What do you think about this story? Do you think an all-inclusive unlimited stay which covers food, drinks, and activities could have made a very big difference? I think so!
Typically, all-inclusive unlimited packages offer the following, apart from your accommodation.
- Food – All your eating requirements are taken care. Food is not restricted to three meals a day. Some hotels have all day dining or 24 hours café to keep you well fed.
- Unlimited food – Most hotels provide unlimited food. You can eat as much as you like. Even if the restaurant is a la carte, you are not bound by limitations. If you don’t like a dish, order another one. Don’t like that either, order another. Order as many desserts as you wish.
- Multi-cuisine and multi-restaurants – Most of the big players like Sandals Resorts and Palace Resorts have many restaurants in a single resort. You can gorge on an oriental salad or bite into that slice of freshly baked pizza. If you are in a Japanese restaurant and don’t really like the sushi you ordered, that’s not a problem! Go to another restaurant immediately and try some other cuisine.
These are some great reviews of Sandals Grande St. Lucian.
And that of Palace, Le Blanc Spa Resort.
- Snack 24/7 – Some restaurants are open 24 hours where you can satiate your hunger whenever you like. Munch on that mid-morning snack or enjoy some late-night desserts. It’s amazing to have such options available round the clock.
- Drinks – These range from the tangy, sweet and flavorsome cocktails to premium spirits and house wines.
- Not one but many bars – Premium hotels include several bars on the property that are typically open from the morning till way past midnight, with some open till 3:00 am. Enjoy cocktails like Rum Runner, Pink Mojito and more. These bars offer a variety of spirits from single malt scotch whiskeys to premium house wines.
- In-room bars – Typically these are refreshed every day with specific types of drinks based on the room type you select. Top level rooms get the luxury of unlimited refills and premium pours.
- Varied settings – Varied ambiance and settings like swim-up pool bars, authentic pubs, beachfront bars give you the perfect drinking experience.
- Sports and activities – The all-inclusive experience is extended to activities, water, and land sports. All of them are mostly unlimited.
- Land and water sports – Land sports usually include indoor games, bowling, billiards, tennis, basketball and even golf! Water sports like water skiing, tubing, snorkeling is often included.
- Butler service – Usually comes with top category rooms, the butler ensures impeccable service whenever you need. From serving you delicious food to booking your favorite restaurants. Even ironing your clothes. Everything is inclusive.
- Entertainment – This may include live shows, bonfire parties, beach parties etc.
- Tips and taxes are also inclusive.
- Airport, intra-resort transfers, concierge services, Wi-Fi and calling facilities are also included.
Every hotel chain offers packages with their own inclusions. However, the above list should cover 98% of the inclusions offered by everyone in the all-inclusive hotel business.
Here is a simple comparison between a luxury 5-star resort and an all-inclusive luxury 5-star resort.
The difference is clear and pretty obvious.
The luxury all-inclusive package for 7 days costs only $4200, whereas the regular one costs $6870.
Which means the all-inclusive package is 38% cheaper than the regular one.
What is the common ground for comparison?
- We are looking at a 7-day package.
- These are Caribbean beach resorts and we are looking at Sandals Jamaica Royal Caribbean as an example of an all-inclusive package.
- Club level rooms are used for comparison.
NOTE: Comparison was done as per prices on 14th June 2018.
We haven’t included these aspects in the comparison.
- Regular resorts may include breakfast and one meal in their package. These are mostly buffet meals, where you can have as much as you like. Whereas all-inclusive resorts like Sandals and Palace have many restaurants on their property, which include ala carte menu as well (ala carte but unlimited). We haven’t considered that!
- Snacking twice a day. 2 cocktails a day. 2 glasses of alcohol a day. All this sounds so weird and ridiculous, especially on a honeymoon. In the interest of comparison, such ‘miser examples’ have been taken for a regular package.
- The activities used for comparison are not all. There are many more activities and water sports at beach resorts. You even get to play golf as an inclusive activity.
- Tips and taxes are almost always included in an all-inclusive package. These again have been excluded from the comparison.
If we were to include the above for the comparison, it would be extremely ludicrous and the comparison would be like a bad joke on the regular non-inclusive package.
An all-inclusive package is certainly the way to go if you want to have a carefree and relaxing honeymoon.
NOTE: If you are looking for a relaxing honeymoon with limited activities and the place is really small like an island, an all-inclusive package makes sense. If you plan for a honeymoon, where there is a lot to see and do, you have to decide if all-inclusive is the right choice for you. Also, an all-inclusive package should ideally be not more than 7 days, so that you don’t get bored.
What do you think about this? Do you feel there are better options for a relaxing and easy-going honeymoon? Leave a comment!