My Big Fat Package Holiday Debate

Binge drinking Brits, bad entertainment, leather skinned grannies and a buffet full of chips. I’ve got to be honest. These are a few of the things that first pop into my head when I think of the term package holiday. And I’m not alone, right?

For people with a passion for travel, going on holiday opens up many more possibilities than just getting a tan and drinking copious amounts of Sex on the Beach (but don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy this from time to time). I’ve experienced package holidays myself, but now that my travel obsession has become my career, I couldn’t think of anything worse than flying to a beautiful destination and never leaving the four walls of the resort. For us travel loving folk, going on holiday means seeing a new part of the world, rediscovering our sense of adventure and digging our teeth into a new culture. So does that mean package holidays are totally off the radar for us?

Here I am (third from the left) at the tender age of 18 celebrating the end of A-Levels with my friends on a package holiday in Kavos!

Here I am (third from the left) at the tender age of 18 celebrating the end of A-Levels with my friends on a package holiday in Kavos aka Chavos! Do you think we had enough cocktails?

All-inclusive gurus First Choice got in touch with me to see if they could change my mind about the classic package holiday myths that I have picked up over the years. As part of a campaign to try and convert non-package holiday believers like myself, they whisked away a family of 4 to the 5* Baia Lara resort in Antalya, Turkey. First Choice created a documentary of their trip and they sent me the final video to see if the families’ experience could change my views.

I watched the video and could relate to most of the couple’s reasons why they avoided booking package holidays. They thought that all-inclusive resorts are full of bad food, no culture, brashness, loudness and are untidy – all fair points I thought. So I was interested to see if their perceptions would change after experiencing the holiday.

Once out in sunny Turkey it looked like they had a great experience and despite it being buffet restaurants in the hotel, they said that the standard of food was excellent. Food for me is a huge part of travelling and I couldn’t think of anything worse than eating plain old British food whilst away. I was really pleased to see that the buffet restaurants were serving authentic Turkish dishes, and that the décor of the hotel had Turkish influences too.

My hotel stay in Greece in June offered all inclusive water sports activities in the hotel - and I loved it!

My hotel stay in Greece in June offered all inclusive water sports activities in the hotel – and I loved it!

The family went on boat trip day excursion during their trip which allowed them to get out of the resort and actually see a bit of the surrounding area of Antalya.  I adore boats and being surrounded by the sea, so this looked totally up my street! It’s great to see that experiences and excursions like this are available on an all-inclusive holiday, but of course it’s not part of the all-inclusive cost, which is probably why a lot of holidaymakers avoid it. Total shame as day trips like that can often be a holiday highlight!

That said, some specialist hotels these days offer some amazing activities included in the hotel stay. I spent a week at Sivota Bay The Retreat in Greece this June and whilst it wasn’t all inclusive, it did include unlimited water sports within the hotel such as water skiing, wind surfing, dighy sailing and more. The food was also gorgeous and had a served Greek food from a different region of the country every night.  It was amazing, and certainly nothing like the god awful package holiday stereotypes that programmes like ITV’s Benidorm conjure up.

So here lies the big question – would I book an all-inclusive holiday now?

Since seeing the video, I do think it is possible to explore the culture and local surroundings of a package holiday resort. The only thing is you just have to work a little harder to experience it, as being in a huge resort means everything (bars, restaurants, shops) is so conveniently on your doorstep.  Although booking an all-inclusive package holiday wouldn’t be my first choice  (‘scuse the pun), I think they’re perfect for those looking for a stress free, convenient and good value getaway to have fun in the sun.


Are you an all-inclusive lover or a non believer ?

Watch the video here and decide for yourself then join in with my big fat Package Holiday debate by leaving me a comment in the box below!



  1. Yvonne 27th December 2013 / 10:53 am

    I understand where people are coming from, after all, what’s the point in visiting another country if you’re just going to stay within the hotel grounds? But as a single parent with 3 children i love the security of knowing what to expect, without added extra costs, but we always make sure we go on trips out into the resort to experience a little of the culture and I always get the children to try the local foods.

    • thetravelistablog 27th December 2013 / 11:02 pm

      Hi Yvonne. Thanks for your comment and joining the debate! I can totally see the appeal in all inclusive holidays for parents. I can imagine that travelling with little ones can be stressful so it must definitely bring added peace of mind to know everything you need is in one place. Especially if there are kids clubs. But lovely to hear you make the kids try the local foods. Thanks for stopping by :)


  2. Elle Croft 9th September 2013 / 9:55 pm

    I can understand why people choose package holidays, but I just don’t think they’re for everyone. I like the adventure of finding different food every day, discovering local hidden gems and making my way around as the locals do…not that you can’t do that with an all-inclusive but I think if you’ve paid for the lot, it’s harder to motivate yourself to get out and do all of these things yourself. I’ll never say never but I don’t think it’s for me…

    • thetravelistablog 9th September 2013 / 10:37 pm

      Hi Ellie, hope you’re well! I have to agree with you! It’s totally down to the individual. Some people like to have everything organised for them and have a stress free holiday, which is totally fair enough, but others like to live on the edge a bit more and take a bit more of a leap into the unknown! That way it’s much more rewarding when you DO stumble across the hidden gems. I do agree that having all the all inclusive amenities on your doorstep make holiday makers a little more idle and less likely to explore the surroundings. Travel for me is all about the adventure and discovering the local gems too :-) Thanks so much for getting involved in the debate!

      Jess x

  3. Andrew Franklin 9th September 2013 / 6:55 pm

    Having Just been on a seven day all inclusive holiday to Bodrum in Turkey, I can understand why people opt for such holidays. Going on the resort we stayed at, Bodrum Resort and Spa.
    It was clean, tidy, and had enough things to do on site, some in with the cost and some at extra cost.
    Having that said I could not get the explore bug out of my head and felt a little hemmed in. We did go out of resort a couple of times which helped a bit. But I left feeling I had not got to know turkey very much.
    So I do not think I will go all inclusive again, and go back to a more structured by us break.

    • thetravelistablog 9th September 2013 / 8:16 pm

      Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment, that’s really interesting. I can definitely imagine how you could feel a bit hemmed in, but at the same time time I’m sure it was a nice feeling to have everything so close by. I think that variety is the spice of life, so for your next holiday, you might prefer piecing it together yourself! Thanks for sharing your experience and joining the debate :)

      Jess, The Travelista x

  4. denimfish 9th September 2013 / 12:59 pm

    In general I am a non believer of the all inclusive package as shown in the video. Whilst it all looked very 5 star and squeaky clean, the hotel could have been anywhere in the world and of course it was shown in the best light.
    I have experienced the (typical) all inclusive package but to me travelling means seeing, feeling, smelling (yes smelling) the country and being immersed in the culture and that usually means getting your hands a bit dirty (so to speak). Each country is so diverse and rich in sights and sounds that for me it would be tragic to miss.
    However I can understand that there are those who want squeaky 5 star no hassle 2 weeks of relaxation and sunshine and are not particularly interested in the country aside from a quick coach ride trip and why not?
    Each to their own but I won’t be booking one in the forseeable future.

    • thetravelistablog 9th September 2013 / 8:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment DenimFish! I have to agree, that’s the one thing about all inclusive resorts I’m not sure about: the feeling that you could be anywhere in the world. I liked how on the video they mentioned their hotel had turkish food and decor, but others may not have been as lucky. I think researching the hotel is key and if you’re looking for a hotel with traditional influences, you need to do a little more leg work to find it :) Thanks for sharing your views

      Jess, The Travelista x

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