Blue Vagabird

Conveying the joy of travel

Why All-Inclusive Holiday (in Turkey) Makes Absolutely NO Sense!

Hierapolis Theater

All-inclusive holidays are often seen as one of the most affordable and accessible means of travel to certain destinations (like Tunisia, Morocco, or Egypt).

Usually, these trips are not my traveling style. Nevertheless,  when a few months ago my sister, a die-hard all-inclusive fan, asked me to join her in Turkey for a week, I agreed.

I withdraw 350 euro from an ATM and traded it for seven days of glistening sun, sticky halva, and cute kittens on the famed Turkish Riviera.

I told, you – loads of cute, little fluff pusses

350 Euro? That’s a Bargain! What’s Not to Like?

You may be thinking – 350 euro is peanuts if that’s to cover the return flight, hotel, all meals, drinks, and 7 days of blissful idleness (kind of, I was still doing assignments for my clients).

Yet, I still think that by going with all-inclusive, you’re missing out on a whole bunch of outstanding experiences. Here’s why:

1. Your choice of food is limited

Wait? What did I just say? Dozens of meals every day, the never-ending story of loading your plates with piles of food, unlimited booze, and a selection of desserts.

Yes, BUT. First of all, the choice and variety of food greatly depend on your luck (and accommodation). You might get a hotel where all sorts of meals are served, or end up in one where the number of options is very limited, meals repeat daily and… there comes my chief argument – you’ll get to try no local dishes at all.

Let’s face it. A majority of all-in hotels are accommodating the spoilt Westerners and often serve fish’n’chips or club sandwich as the main course or at least reduce the rich flavor of the local cuisine to adapt to our bland palates.

Even if a hotel goes an extra mile, most people tend to play it safe with food and stick to what they know whenever possible. I still slightly smirk when I think about a group of Polish tourists whom we met on the most distant cove of the Indian Goa. They were staying in a pretty luxurious hotel but complained about the food.

“It’s eggs and eggs every day. Nothing else. Well, there are some local flatbread, sauces, and hot meals but we’re not having any of that. Aren’t you afraid of eating THAT food?”

Hell, no, we weren’t! When food’s considered, be audacious! Venture out to the local market, learn about the available produce, taste whatever you can, and share your opinion only once you’ve actually tried anything.

Mammoth Grenades Mammoth grenades

Turkey honey
Turkish honey – a crucial ingredient of many Turkish desserts

A knob of butter
Massive knobs of butter

Turkey Local Produce
Cheese? Yes, that’s a popular Turkish food item

Turkey B-day Cakes
Baby-shaped cakes

And the food in Turkey is divine! I am still salivating at the memory of lavish baklava and halva, ultra-sweet ice cream, rich yogurt, flavorsome aubergine, tomatoes, and other veggies, and delicious börek. I had them all outside of our hotel.

Turkish cuisine is delicious, filling, and affordable. It’s a real shame if you stick to fried chicken only.

2. Local Trips and Hammams? Hotels Are Ripping You Off

Oh, the temptation of having everything sorted out for you, without having to do any research on your own! How convenient!

You want to give the Turkish massage a go, so you leave your sunbed, trudge 300 meters to the hotel’s spa center, cash out 30 euro, and spend another hour blissfully scrubbing the rough day away in the hammam.

Or you feel like doing a facultative trip, but lying all day in the sun on a comfy hotel chair feels way too excruciating to invest any effort in searching for the best option. So you gladly accept a little booklet with excursion deals from your resident, leaf through it, and end up buying three tours. By the way, you’re stoked because of the 10% discount you got on your purchase.

I am not being sarcastic (ok, maybe a little), I bought such a tour in the hotel myself – see the pics below. But I was fully aware that I was so overpaying it. The hammam in the town turned out to be twice as cheap (even before any haggling). And depending on an excursion, you could have easily save 20-100 euro per person when buying a trip from a local tourist office versus the hotel.

Approaching Pamukkale
Hot air balloons flying in the morning towards Pamukkale and Hierapolis

Hierapolis Theater
The impressive remains of Hierapolis Theater, constructed around 60 AD under the reign of Hadrian

Cleopatra's Pool
Vapor rises over the magnificent thermal pool that belongs to a bath complex built by the Romans ca. 3rd century AD

Hierapolis Remains
Part of the archaeological site in Hierapolis

Pamukkale Turkey - white terraces
The white travertine rock has suffered considerable damage, therefore some parts of Pamukkale World Heritage Site are inaccessible

Pamukkale Pools
Once, these pools were deep enough to take a dip, now, most of them are knee-deep at best

Pamukkale Azure Water
Look at this azure water. It’s remarkable!

Hey, it’s me:D To behold Pamukkale is never to forget it!

It is ok if you’re aware of that difference and still prefer to get charged a higher price because it’s more convenient that way. But many people don’t realize these discrepancies and fall victim to the exorbitant hotel prices.

3. Beaches Often Outshine Hotel Pools

So here’s the pool we had:

I would say it wasn’t too bad (we didn’t stay in a huge, fancy hotel). Still, I preferred this:

It’s easy to get lazy when you have everything available within reach. I’ve seen many people who wouldn’t even set their foot on a beach at all, fixed to the nearest swimming pool instead.

Sure, not everyone likes swimming in a rough sea with shoals of fish. However, I always wonder, why travel to a seaside resort if you’re going to be stuck to a pool all day long (which you can probably do back at home as well)?

4. Get out! There’s Life Out There

Talking about getting stuck. Here comes my biggest issue with all-inclusive deals. Pampered like a panda bear, you have absolutely no incentive to leave the confines of your resort.

Get Out! Movie

And Turkey (as Morocco, Egypt, and other popular all-in destinations) is a spectacular place to explore and the cradle of civilization! Even in tourist-heavy places such as Alanya or Antalya, you will find plenty of activities and twice as many peaceful, stunning places (unless you go out at night when all boozers from abroad hit the town).

Bottom Line

I am far from sniggering at people who prefer all-inclusive holiday. After all, I’d have to ridicule my own sister. For many people, it’s the least expensive way to travel and get some rest once a year. And I fully respect that.

However, even if you choose this type of holidays because of tight budget and dislike for any vacation planning, it’s still worth leaving the resort even for a day to have a look at the real local life, sample genuine street food, and bring back the memories of something else than just the swimming pool. Especially in Turkey!

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