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Talk me into/out of a family all inclusive holiday(48 Posts)
We’ve just come back from our Easter break which was lovely, but exhausting. We stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam and a lovely cottage in the countryside. I really want to do something different (and more relaxing) next time. All our holidays have been ‘busy’ lots of sightseeing and travelling which seemed much more fun before we had our youngest who is a full on toddler!
We’re considering an AI resort with a pool, on a beach ideally in a small town or village for our next holiday so we don’t have decision making around where to eat, what to do and the kids can entertain themselves on the beach or by the pool. Most important thing is I don’t want to think about shopping or cooking! Don’t think we’re bothered about kids clubs or entertainment.
Any advice would great - what should we look for/avoid?!
We’ve got 4dcs - 3 older ones (who would love beach and pool) and a toddler.
The freedom an all inclusive hotel gives is immense when you have Dcs clamouring for snacks and drinks all of the time. No planning,shopping for ,or cooking of meals or trying to find a good restaurant that suits everyone.
If you can afford it why ever not?
Depending on the hotel AI food can become boringly repetitive - however, it is excellent value .
If you don't want to think about cooking or shopping and you also have 4 children of wide age range to entertain, I think an all-inclusive holiday would suit you very well. I have never been on one, but I know people who have and they enjoyed the relaxation aspect very much - ie not having to think about meals, entertainment etc or plan anything was the main draw.
Your holiday sounds just like the holidays we do and we always enjoy them but don't get to relax like you would an a beach/pool holiday.
So this Easter we went on our first ever AI holiday and have said never again!
I'll do the positives first
Kids loved the constant access to food and drink.
DD9 made friends and we barely saw her for the whole week.
We saw the sun for the first time since September
That's where the positives end.
All cramped into one room ( we will be going for cottages or villas in future)
No escape from the holiday camp vibe that the otherwise lovely hotel thinks us Brits want.
Constant noise and loud music around the pool area
People smoking around the pool
Other people's badly behaved kids
The entertainment team pestering you to join in with aqua aerobics , water polo , shuffle board etc
Buffet restaurants - the atmosphere is like hell on earth ( even though the food was actually very good )
Butlins style evening entertainment that the kids love so you have to endure it each night when you would rather be sipping cocktails while watching the sunset!
We lasted two days before we hired a car and went off to explore ( escape)
I'm glad we went just so we could experience it and know for sure that it's not our thing.
I went on a couple when I was a teenager and enjoyed them. Since then holidays have been about sightseeing and eating in nice restaurants but now I have kids I can see the appeal of AI again!
I can see the attraction of AI but surely it's not good for the local economy in that all the local cafes/bars/restaurants are losing out on custom?
Try somewhere like Costa Adeje in Tenerife - really nice AI hotels and a lovely resort but also the ability to if you want hire a car and go and explore things like Mount Teide, or go to the waterpark (one of the best in the world) best of both worlds
Have you thought about Thailand?
We found that it was cheaper to do two weeks bed and breakfast in a 5 star luxury resort in Thailand than to do two weeks AI in a very average resort in the Canaries. Once in Thailand it's very cheap to eat and drink. The kids loved it!
We have 2 teens and a 9 year old and have done these for 3 years.
Pros - no shopping / cooking / tidying up.
We book 2 bedrooms next to each other so size of room not an issue.
Entertainment on offer (more like a planned programme, take part in what you like). DH & teens love all the sports, DD (9) makes tons of friends around the pool / kids club. I get to read. For hours .
Food is fine, some places have been amazing (Lykia World), some have been fine. None have been crap. We always go for a 4.5 star rating on TA (cos you can't please everyone!). Somewhere on the coast so gorgeous views, access to beach etc.
Cons - it is getting more expensive every year. If we could afford it we would go much more often, my family love them.
We’ve done them in Turkey and Caribbean. I would say you get what you pay for! We’ve been to one place in Turkey three times and it worked well for us with young teens as they could just go off and make friends. The food was pretty good in the main buffet but by the end of ten days we were tired of it! There were some alternative restaurants and one free visit to those was included- but terrible early morning queue to get a slot. There was a quiet pool and a noisy pool so you could get away from the activities. Very limited night life.
Did similar at AI in Caribbean which was in a different league- but at three times the price and was very much a question of you get what you pay for.
Would we do it again if we had younger children ( ours now in 20s) Probably yes, but you need to read the descriptions of what’s included very carefully, consider proximity to other things you might want to go and sea and read a range of reviews.
We stayed at the Holiday Village in Rhodes which is AI. It was a lovely resort and we upgraded to the deluxe area so got away from the constant music and entertainment around the pool which would have driven us mad. The kids entertainment and clubs were very good. Most of the reviews I read said the buffet food was very good. I found it very average but there were 3 restaurants we could visit once during the holiday and they were good. I'd do AI again but I'd do one of the more expensive ones. Also look into cruises. We really enjoyed the one we went on. Food was great and we got to visit somewhere new every day.
When we holidayed with our kids we went self catering because I was more mobile and we wanted them to try to local fold etc. We’d have breakfast and lunch in the apartment and eat out at night. I never cooked, we had bread, cheese, meats, fruit and yogurt for lunches.
Now we go AI because I’m not very mobile and as it’s just DH and I we go in term time so it’s not so busy. Not all AI’s have music round the pool or botner you to play games. Yes the restaurants can be noisy but it’s not too bad.
We went to a lovely hotel in Menorca last September and we’re going back in June. I couldn’t tell you if there was a kids club, I don’t think there were any games in the pool but we sat in a quiet bit. The food wasn’t the greatest but we didn’t go hungry and we hired a car so we could go out and about. It was on the top of a cliff looking over the most beautiful cove where DH spent many hours snorkelling amongst the fish. It was just outside the resort, which wasn’t overly great, but like I said we had a car and Menorca is small so it doesn’t take long to get to the better towns.
TUI do AI holidays set up for familes depending on what you want. We’ve stayed at a Family Life, out of season, and it was great. We loved the Magic Life we stayed in. There’s holiday villages too but that’s not our cup of tea.
We were invited to a wedding last year which was also meant as a holiday thing.
So we went to Mexico AI for a week and I'm still dreaming about it.
It was sunny and beautiful and by the beach so we could choose if we wanted to be by the pool or sit on the warm sand. There were 2 bars and waiters that kept doing rounds asking if we wanted any more cocktails
Food wise there was a buffet + 4 restaurants a Steakhouse/Seafood place, Thai, Mexican, Italian.
Buffet was extremely good especially for breakfast they had tonnes of fresh fruit, french toast, fresh breads and meats, standard bacon, sausages etc and also did fresh doughnuts and crepes to order. Oh and a smoothie bar.
We never had a struggle with eating and it was such a relief to not have to think about meals.
There were volleyball and tennis courts, ping pong, basketball etc.
If we got a bit bored there was lots of extra activities we could book to get out of the resort like swimming with dolphins and lots more.
We are planning another AI as we speak.
We went to Club MAC alcudia last year. DCs aged 8 and 12. It was brilliant. The staff in the hotel were absolutely fantastic with kids. More pools than we knew what to do with. Kids club, small amusement park, boating lake, market stalls in the evenings. And free unlimited entry into the water park behind the hotel. The bus to the beach is free too. Food was a different theme every day and a great variety. My Dc loved the French day with all the different bread and donuts the rooms were clean with all you could need. I would go back tomorrow if I could.
AI is great if you don’t plan to leave the resort often ( most will provide a picnic if you ask the day before)
Also excellent value if you like to have some alcohol.
Just don’t have a bit of everything every mealtime otherwise the food will seem repetitive!
We’ve been on two holiday village holidays in mainland Spain and one of the Greek islands. We only went the second time to see if we were just unlucky with the first resort, but unfortunately not.
The restaurants were heaving, often queuing to get a table and then having to queue to get food from a buffet at breakfast, lunch and dinner- not fun! And the noise of other people’s children was unbearable. The restaurants sounded like a school dinner hall, the pool and games areas were heaving.
The amount of drunk parents was unbelievable, and lots of the children didn’t have parents around which meant misbehaving children and unnecessary screaming ruined the holidays.
We went to Menorca two years ago on an AI holiday and it was very good. It was June so pretty quiet. Food was great and not repetetive at all. Pool was lovely. We had a 2 bedroom apartment so the boys had one room, dh and I had the other room and dd had the sofa bed. So we had plenty of space.
Menorca is a beautiful island, lots to see and do.
Went to Lara Beach Antalya last year and we had a great time, lovely food, snacks and drinks brought constantly around the pool, waterslides for kids, water sports and arranged trips.
This is all so useful. Thank you.
Angels and skedaddled your cons list is exactly what I'm worried about!
We also don't want to spend a fortune on a 5* resort. The last time we looked at the cost of one for the 6 of us for 2 weeks it was so astronomical we spent exactly the same money on a Californian Road trip (which was brilliant and totally exhausting!).
And because I'm being a
fussy bugger particular about our next holidays what I would like is:
Beach, small/town village and pool all within an easy walk.
Not too expensive.
October half term (so maybe south med so we have some sunshine)
I am beginning to think self-catering might be a better option but not having to find restaurants as well as plan and shop for food is really, really appealing.
I have a feeling my dream of a good value, sunny AI resort where we can spend our time just hanging out by the pool/beach in October is probably not going to happen!
lonelytigger and zibbidoo your holidays sound lovely. I guess it might be about finding the right resort but that feels like a minefield in itself!
Really good advice and it's something that we've been back and forth on over the years. However, you couldn't persuade me and DH to cram all of us into one room for even a week, let alone two, if you paid us a substantial amount of money. AI would only be acceptable to us if we had our own spacious apartment/villa.
What we want is restaurants, pool, beach, crazy golf, etc, nearby, but to be able to opt in or out and SC for some meals so we can just be us and be quiet if we want to.
I've written a few reviews on the MN travel boards over the years and can recommend Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus (been twice with my wider family inc. 7 kids), Cordial Mogan Valle in Gran Canaria (your family might be too big for this, but see if they do 3-bed apartments), or one of the Martinhal resorts in Portugal.
Ask around amongst friends for recommendations. If you have several people saying they’ve been to X and it was great then you can be pretty confident it’s a good spot.
Lonelytigger-what resort did you go to if you don't mind saying?
I love AI tbh... such an easy holiday and that's all I want at this stage...
I was going to say aphrodite hills in Cyprus too! You get your own apartment or villa space (not just a room) with kitchen, but there are restaurants for when you cba to cook, and a kids club if you want it. I haven't been but it's on my future hols list.
Also you do want somewhere that positively welcomes kids, not just tolerates them. Kids club usually= child friendly resort, even if you don't intend to use it.
A few resorts do childcare for toddlers too - esp in the Canaries eg Princesa Yaiza, Roca Nivaria and Sensatori Tenerife. They will all have lovely weather at Oct half term.
Get booking soon as Oct half term is busy already!
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