I just returned from a glorious vacation at an all-inclusive resort, a leisure concept ideal for frugal travelers like myself. The unlimited food, drink, and activities all seemed “free” once I arrived because I’d booked the trip 6 months ago, calculated how many margaritas I’d need to consume to get my money’s worth, and promptly forgot the price.
What the brochures don’t tell you is this: in addition to all of the above, you’ll have a front-row seat to some of the worst manners on earth.
I am not a vacation manners snob. I don’t expect formal dress after 6:00 pm or an engraved invitation to join the Zumba class. I drink my Diet Coke directly from the can. I like Downton Abbey but I love eating potato chips directly from the bag like a heathen.
I also love to give unsolicited advice online that I would never have the guts to say in person (you never know who has a concealed carry permit these days). If you plan a holiday to an all-inclusive resort, PLEASE keep in mind the following:
When visiting the dinner buffet, remember that WE CAN SEE YOU.
For God’s sake, you are not standing alone in front of your own refrigerator at midnight. Dozens of people just saw you pop that French fry in your mouth and lick your fingers before grabbing the next serving spoon on the line. And if you drop a piece of food – or as I witnessed last week, if you unceremoniously dump an entire full plate of food – alert an employee and let him know so an unsuspecting fellow diner doesn’t do the electric slide on your mashed potatoes.
Curb your entitlement, especially if you’ve passed it along to your bratty kids.
I was dozing to the relaxing sound of the surf when my reverie was interrupted by a nearby 7 year old (I’ll call him “Preston Winthrop Huffington III”). Mr. PWH3 had flagged down the beach attendant – rather aggressively for someone of his tender age – and was authoritatively dictating instructions on how he wanted his virgin piña colada prepared. I silently marveled at how well young Master Preston knew his own tastes in tropical drinks, until I heard his father begin the monologue that was his own drink order. Come on, people. You’re on the beach in Mexico – order a Dos Equis and shut up about it.
Share the chairs.
Sometimes vacationing at an all-inclusive feels like a high-stakes game of musical chairs gone wrong – while your every other gluttonous need is being met, you nonetheless become paralyzed with fear that you won’t get a seat by the pool. It is poor form indeed to wake at the crack of dawn, toss a towel on an empty lounger, and then return hours later when you finally feel in the mood to sit. Please remember that you are on vacation, not homesteading in Dakota Territory. Staking a claim to that chair is not the key to your family’s future. You will still get free drinks.
Say yes to decent dress.
Now I know why some restaurants have signs warning “no shoes, no shirt, no service.” If you ever wondered whom on earth needs a reminder like that, I can tell you – they were all at lunch with me! How appetizing it was to accidentally brush against the hairy back of the gentleman next to me in line for the salad bar. How delightful to follow behind others’ bare, sandy feet on the way to the ice cream. The sight of your toenails, however nicely pedicured (and they were NOT all nicely pedicured) does not enhance my dining experience.
As widely as some guests veered out of the etiquette lanes, spending time with them was way better than being in my hometown of Boston, where the snow has crushed our spirits and we’ve had to learn an entire new vocabulary with words like “ice dam,” “snow farm,” and “industrial melter” (I’m asking Santa for one ASAP).
Nevertheless, I will definitely go back next year if I can swing it. I need to gather data for “All-Inclusives For Dummies 2.” It would be negligent, really, NOT to go.
If I drink enough margaritas, the trip practically pays for itself.