Updated on September 4, 2016
Updated on September 4, 2016
We have been in Egypt for a few weeks now and I honestly still don’t feel like I can accurately say what Egypt is like. This is entirely due to the fact that this first chunk of our visit was designed to get lots of work done while living out of cheap Hilton resorts. Drew’s been calling it his “exile”. Which…I find a little humorous…since we’re in Egypt. Biblical humor.
Has it been a success in that regard? Mostly, yes. Despite rather slow internet, it’s been nice to have lots of long stays so we don’t have to toss hours of time to the across-town-transit-gods.
The only affordable food is room service, so we don’t waste time hunting cheap food spots. We’re in the middle of nowhere so there are very few recreational temptations as far as local city sites and the like. So, ya. For getting work done, it’s great.
But it’s reminded me that I am definitely not a resort person. At least, not when it comes to travel preferences.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are resort experiences I have loved. The few nights we spent at the Hyatt Zila Rose in Jamaica were amazing. (All inclusive with huge fresh crab legs at the buffet. Need I say more?)
But my interest in “relaxing” lasts about two days- three days max. After that, my wanderlust demands that I burst the resort bubble and go explore something authentic.
First let me disclaimer this to say that if you are a resort person, that is fine.
I hate the whole judgey thing that we travelers sometimes end up doing where we tell someone all the reasons they’re traveling wrong. “You use a suitcase instead of a backpack? You’re doing it wrong.” “You only stay somewhere for one night stopovers? You’re doing it wrong.” “You went to [fill in the blank destination] but you didn’t see [my favorite thing]? You’re doing it wrong.”
No one is doing it wrong. A person’s travel style is as diverse as their lifestyle because…travel is life. *mic drop* Jk.
But seriously, this post is not about resort-shaming. There’s no shame in visiting a resort.
1. I get really restless when I’m not DOING something.
I know everyone is self diagnosing these days, and if I were to jump on that band wagon I’d give myself ADHD. True or not, I have never been any good at lounging on the beach. Or relaxing at all, really. I’m a “what are we doing today?” kind of person and resorts are designed to accommodate lots of relaxation.
Of course, for an inflated price they will also accommodate a slew of adventures but they’re all “private” and “exclusive” and “drinks included”. I’ve never done a hotel-arranged outing but I picture a boat of European tourists all drinking and jumping in the water to float around the several foot radius of the boat. This sounds about as fun as the ice-breaker games at junior high summer camp.
And when the hotels pitch these outings to me, they usually emphasize that there are no locals involved, as though this is a selling point. “It’s much better than the other tours you might book directly because ours are exclusive- no locals. Much safer.” That always makes me feel so uncomfortable and kind of sad. I don’t come to a country to avoid its locals.
2. Food is expensive.
We’ve had some delicious meals at resorts. But we cannot at all sustain our budget by making resort restaurant dining a regular meal plan.
Which leads me to my next point.
3. Resorts are often isolated
While resorts sometimes have a special local menu, it’s usually more than we can afford. And besides, much of the menu is catered to Western tastes for Western tourists. Or sometimes they take a local item and Westernize it. So we usually try to strike out and find local affordable food in the surrounding area outside of the resort. The success is hit/miss.
At the InterContinental Fiji we survived by occasionally walking a ways down the highway to a little Indian cafeteria, and otherwise eating ramen and crackers with jam. A success in terms of affordability and a fail in terms of local authenticity.
At the Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi island we were elated to find a tiny little restaurant a short walk down the beach. Most of the patrons appeared to be local boat-drivers and such. A win in terms of affordability and local authenticity.
But many many times there is just nothing in walking distance. Here at the Radisson Blu in El Quiser we walked down the highway a bit to the only building we could see in the walkable vicinity. We scoured the place for something meal-worthy but opted against living off of Doritos and twinkies. (Had it been oreos, I could have been swayed.)
So, we spend more than our budget allows on room service. It’s good food, but it’s catered to Western tastes. So instead of experiencing local cuisine, we’re eating tomato soup and pasta.
Resorts feel a bit like the twilight zone to me.
I’ll put it this way: you know how airports feel like nowhere-places? You’re not really in a country when you’re in its airport- you’re in a nowhere-zone. It’s decorated to represent the country that houses it, but ultimately its identity is as an airport, not as a destination within a country.
Resorts are a bit like that in my mind. You fly all the way to [fill in the blank destination] to relax on a beach with a collection of Europeans. The architecture, decor, and menu may all represent [fill int he blank destination], but its identity is ultimately more as a resort than a destination. There’s a pool, like every other resort. There’s a buffet, like every other resort. There’s a snorkeling and diving excursion, like every other resort. But no one lives there.
Except for us…but you know what I mean.
It’s the twilight zone. But oddly enough all of the things that make it bad for vacation, make it great for work. While trying to get work done, the isolation is perfect. We may snorkel once during our 12 night stay here, and that will be sufficient. All other time goes to work and exercise. Perfect.