We pride ourselves on our “all-inclusive” trips and tours, so you don’t have to worry about paying for meals, internal travel, tips, donations, lodging… you’re on vacation, and that includes your wallet-grabbing hand, too! However, a recent family trip to “we’ll-leave-it-unnamed-although-it-sounds-similar-to-the-surrounding-ocean-hint-hint” resort in the Bahamas led us to understand why the phrase “all-inclusive” can leave a nasty taste in some people’s mouths.
We didn’t purchase the all-inclusive package, but we didn’t fully understand what a wise choice that was until we arrived. (A huge ‘thank you’ to my sister-in-law Kari for making that choice!) Apparently, our definition of all-inclusive and theirs is a bit different; I don’t know about you, but I like to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner–crazy, right? Heck, I’ve even been known to snack once or twice (or nine) times a day. From what we gathered, not every meal was included on these plans and a very small selection of restaurants was included.
Here was the typical scene during our vacation: every evening we left the resort to eat at a local restaurant in Nassau (more on that later) and on our way out, we would encounter a swarm of people in the lobby, waiting in a line sometimes 60+ people deep to eat at one of the few ‘sanctioned’ restaurants (a buffet, of course). The lobby’s ambiance was heightened with the sound of children screeching, with a twist of slick floors from the straight-from-the-pool-to-dinner crowd. In a word (that we used a lot whenever we saw this scene): “Ugh.” Breakfasts were no better–long lines from 9 AM ’til almost n0on. Who wants to spend their tropical vacation in line for a buffet?
Is this what some people envision when they hear about an all-inclusive vacation? Hoards of tourists with limited options? No wonder it’s a red flag for some people!
That’s not the way we use the word, though. For us, it means “relax–we got this.” Once you’ve arrived to your beginning destination (Delhi or Denpasar, for example), you don’t have to worry about transportation one iota. We travel in private vans or on some of the best regional airlines. All meals are included, usually taken together as a small group & reflecting on what we’ve done thus far. Not feeling like dining with the group today? We’ll give you some local cash & a recommendation–easy peasy. And those snacks…ain’t no snackin’ like India snackin’. I’ve never seen so many flavors of cookies! It might sound silly, but we even give you some local currency to have in your pocket just in case you can’t pass up those cardamom biscuits or Masala 7-Up (!) you see on the street. We promise–“all-inclusive” doesn’t have to be a dirty word!
More on those Bahamian dinners, as promised:
We left the resort on Paradise Island each night to eat at local joints. By far, our favorite was Frankie Gone Bananas at Arawak Cay. We tried several places along this stretch on Arawak Cay, and while all of them were good, Frankie’s stood out for food, drinks, and ambiance (despite the gusts of approaching hurricane Isaac!).
If you like creamy conch chowder, head down about 100 yards and check out Goldie’s Conch House. Our niece claimed it was the best food she’s ever eaten–right in front of her mama, too!