I Hate All Inclusive Resorts

by - Saturday, January 09, 2016

Hello Friends,

Just over a week ago, I returned from an 11 day holiday to the Dominican Republic. My mum, sister and I stayed in the Punta Cana area at the Blau Natura Park hotel.

Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike the island - not in the slightest! I found it to be quite beautiful, despite there being many areas of apparent poverty. Although I have to add, we often were driven through residential areas which were thriving with all different types of people. It was impossible to ignore the sound of merengue and bachata music that often filled the streets while the inhabitants milled about, conversing with their fellow neighbours or preparing for the upcoming holiday. We were told (several times) that it would be dangerous for 3 women who don't know the island or speak the language to explore further than our resort's boundaries unsupervised - but that didn't stop us from dreaming... :(

Our hotel had it's own beach, which featured that white sand the Caribbean is so famous for - definitely nothing to complain about there. Another thing I loved about the island was its diverse flora and fauna. We were taken on a zip lining excursion just beneath the mountains and it was stunning. The area was so green and vibrant, a definite change from the concrete jungle I'm used to in London. Our guide cracked open a cacao pod for us, so that we were able to see the beans inside. I'd had no idea that the beans were enclosed in a jelly-like substance within the pod, which although had an off-putting appearance, tasted surprisingly sweet and fruity.

So yeah, just in case you hadn't already guessed - I really liked the island.

I didn't even dislike the hotel. For a person that doesn't really like staying in large hotels - I usually prefer B&Bs or self-catered apartments - it suited me just fine. It was in need of a little refurbishment and our toilet leaked more than half the time we were there, but it was... sufficient. The animation team made sure there was always something to do during the day, and there were nightly entertainment shows. 

Now, to what this whole post it really about, since so far I haven't really had a thing to properly complain about. When I go on holiday, I want to explore. I want to immerse myself in a culture that is so unlike the one I usually experience. My family originate in the Caribbean but the Dominican Republic is so different, as are many other Caribbean islands - they all have their own quirks. Staying in a resort prohibited us from doing so. The closest we go to experiencing *true* Dominican culture was their Dominican night, where food typically eaten on the island was served at dinner and the show of that evening displayed traditional dancing. That was by far my favourite night - Christmas Eve was a close second. Three words: So. Much. Food. But I wanted MORE. That was a mere fraction of the real Dominican Republic culture. That is what frustrated me the most.

Pretty sure this was my second plate

The only place we could explore by foot that was remotely close to the hotel was a row of tourist shops that lined a street not too far from our entrance. And that was it. If we wanted to see anywhere else, we were facing at least a 20 minute car journey - and that was only to reach the nearest shopping centre, which of course is something that can be found pretty much wherever you go. Going anywhere else cost a lot of money, and usually required a tour guide. Hell, we even booked a trip to Santa Domingo, the island's capital (a 2 hour car journey away) just so we could have a change of scenery. Even then we weren't allowed to explore by ourselves, with our bastard guide escorting us everywhere, not even allowing us 30 minutes to wander on our own. 

I understand why there is the need for all inclusive resorts, especially on an island where crime is apparently so high. And I loved being able to obtain food at pretty much whatever hour I wanted - man I love to eat. But the reason why I love going abroad so much is because I like being able to wander through the streets unsupervised. I like being able to try out small local restaurants that serve food I've never even heard of before. I like being able to talk to natives that aren't shoving their tchotchkes in my face... and yes I am aware that wasn't the best phrasing 😂 What is the point in visiting another country if all you are going to do is spend time within the confines of your hotel? I would rather save my money and stay in bed.

Rant over.

Until next time, 

Tay xx

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