For many people, booking the annual two-week break away from home is the highlight of the year, and a chance to pore over numerous glossy brochures in order to select the next destination and collect another stamp in the passport.
People’s ideas of a holiday differ, and as a result so do their requirements – especially where kids are involved! For childless couples, something away from the norm such as a cruise or adventure holiday might be the order of the day, while family holidays are much more likely to centre on the beach and surrounding facilities, as well as those found in the hotel.
Depending on where you go on holiday, the accommodation and board options you choose can have a huge bearing on your holiday budget and even the activities you get up to while you’re there.
For example, choosing a self-catering holiday means you and your family are only paying for your flights and accommodation in your chosen resort. As a result, it is up to you to budget for all other costs, such as food and drink and entertainment. Many self-catering hotels come equipped with a restaurant and bar area so that guests can dine in the hotel, but also allow guests the option of eating in their hotel room with self-supplied food and drink bought from local shops if they prefer; while many onsite entertainments such as mini-arcades, table tennis and pool tables are liable to incur a small charge for their use. Swimming pools are usually free of charge, but there may be a levy to pay if you want to hire a li-lo or pool-toy.
Away from the hotel, the beauty of self-catering accommodation, however, is the fact that you aren’t tied down to any specific mealtimes. This means that you are free to indulge in whatever activity takes your fancy on any given day without having to worry about getting back to the hotel in time for your evening meal. You can also dine away from the hotel in any of the resort’s restaurants if you so desire, at any time of day or night – or at least until they close!
However, an undoubted downside to self-catering is the potential to overspend your budget. It’s all too easy to eat out more often than you may have planned, or over-indulge the kids with cooling ice-creams and drinks throughout the day, and so a level of fiscal prudence while on a self-catering holiday is paramount. No-one wants to get to the end of their first week away, and discover that the holiday purse-strings will need to be tightened to get through the second week, which would certainly put a dampener on the holiday spirit!
With this in mind, half-board holidays might provide a better option. Half-board accommodation is in many respects similar to self-catering accommodation, but with the added benefit that meals are provided. You’ll still have to fork out for entertainments, drinks and the odd ice-cream, but at you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’ll still be fed, even if the money starts to dry up! However, for many on half-board holidays, the desire to explore their surroundings is often reduced because meals are already bought and paid for, so there is added emphasis on staying close by to the hotel – especially if mealtimes are restricted.
Perhaps the best option for families then, is to consider taking an all-inclusive holiday instead. All-inclusive holidays combine the best features of self-catering and half-board accommodation, and although slightly pricier to book, their provision often means that holidaymakers can actually save more than they would booking either self-catering or half-board accommodation once holiday spending is taken into account.
All-inclusive holidays often consist of unlimited use of hotel facilities and entertainments, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day, snacks and ice cream for children, and all meals throughout the day, although there may still be a small charge for certain facilities such as cable TV or air-conditioning. Other facilities may be available under the all-inclusive banner, depending on the destination and hotel where you are staying. Meals can normally be taken at any time during the hotel restaurant’s opening hours, whereas guests staying on self-catering or half-board basis may be limited to certain times of the day. This means that even though meals have been paid for, there is greater flexibility as to when they can be taken, and so all-inclusive guests aren’t tethered to the hotel steps as they might otherwise be with other board options. There’s also no obligation to use the all-inclusive facilities and offerings; it’s very much a take-or-leave scenario, and even choosing to lunch or dine in the resort rather than the hotel on occasion won’t cancel out the savings that can be made, and the all-inclusive offerings will still be there waiting for you the next day.
All-inclusive holidays aren’t available in every hotel, however, so if you are considering an all-inclusive holiday, it’s always best to double-check that your chosen resort and accommodation offers an option for this. Remember too, that although the price quoted in the brochure may seem a steep jump compared to cheaper board options, there’s a good chance that once you’ve arrived you’ll spend at least the difference while you’re there, so be sure to consider your overall holiday budget and choose the right level of accommodation for your needs.
So if you’re bored of half-board, and sick of self-catering, then all-inclusive holidays might just provide the perfect holiday blend!
Daniel Collins writes on a number of topics on behalf of a digital marketing agency and a variety of clients. As such, this article is to be considered a professional piece with business interests in mind.