As you may have gathered by some of my previous posts, I went on vacation during the last week of October. I really wanted a stress-free, planning-free, drinks-abundant vacation, so the obvious option was booking an all-inclusive package. It was my first getaway of the sort. Keep reading to find out my thoughts.
I booked an all-inclusive package about a month before leaving, which at that point was part of the last-minute deals. The flights, hotel, transportation to and from airport, food and drinks were all included in the package. Booking such a vacation allows for the entire trip to be budgeted and paid out prior to departure. Essentially all you would need to do is get on the plane, get to your destination and relax on the beach for the week.
I stayed at the Valentin Perla Blanca in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. It’s a brand new resort that opened on October 9th 2014, so just over a year old. A 4 and a half star rating with two pools, a long and beautiful beach, water sports, swim-up bars, snack bars, buffet restaurants and à la carte restaurants, the resort is overall gorgeous. As anyone who has ever heard anything about resorts in Cuba I was aware and prepared for the food to be lack-luster. The staff was always cheerful, kind and most were also quite funny. It’s an adults only resort, which means the average age of the clientele was probably 45. It’s not a party resort with a lot of young singles and great nightlife. It really is immensely relaxing with beautiful beaches to lay on during the day.
However, that isn’t exactly how it goes. You pay one set price, yes, and that does include all the drinks you can guzzle down, but there are things that aren’t included that you need to be prepared for before leaving.
One of those things is excursions. If you are like me and won’t be able to stand a whole week of doing nothing except laying by the pool or beach, then you’ll want to have something else to do during your stay. Most resorts will offer day trips to visit local scenery, towns, cities, flora, fauna, and more. These can be quite pricy, though, because they are not included in the package vacation. At our resort, the cheapest day trip was $50 and could go all the way up to $300 per person. If you want to do more than one excursion, you may need to budget an extra $200 for these day trips.
The next thing that wasn’t included is tips. Now before you start getting all upset and judge-y and start wanting to lecture me about the value of tipping, especially in such a poor country, let me explain. Going to an all-inclusive resort, means everything is included, food, drinks, shuttle service around the resort, catamaran tours, à la carte restaurant reservations, etc. This means that every service that is included has someone performing this service and therefore requires a tip. Which signifies that about five or more times a day, you will be dishing out $5 to $10 in tips, and that does add up at the end of the week. I wasn’t aware of this procedure at the resorts and therefore had not included these extra costs in my budget. I was glad to tip and felt good about helping the staff out, but it was extra money that I should have prepared myself to spend before hand, that’s all I’m trying to say.
All in all I did enjoy my vacation to Cuba. I went there to get away, have some fun and spend time with my cousin. We had drinks, ate some of the food and relaxed by the beach or the pool. If you are looking for a fuss-free vacation where the weather never disappoints, then look into the all-inclusive option.
Let me know where you have gone on vacation and where I should go next.