Why I’m ok with living in a resort, but not so much vacationing in one

Jamaica crab legs

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.

 

Wait! I’m not being judgey.

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.

 

But here’s why resorts are not my thing.

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

 

10 Comments on “Why I’m ok with living in a resort, but not so much vacationing in one

  1. I’m glad I found you again! I thought you had stopped blogging when there was no longer a link to you in Drew’s nav bar!

    I feel the way you do when my husband and I are traveling together. We like to move around a lot and see stuff. But if I was traveling with kids, I might stay in a resort if they had lots of activities for them.

    • Yep, we decided to clean up Drew’s navigation to make it a bit simpler and we also wanted to see what kind of effect it would have on my traffic. Always experimenting! 😀 So glad you found me again though!

      That’s true- I do think resorts probably work really well for families. Transit with kids and a lack of space with kids is tough!

  2. We must have just missed each other, Carrie. I was at all three Hilton all-inclusive resorts in Hurghada back in late May and early June; and they are indeed just cheap enough that one could live at them — especially when they are on sale.

    Trip reports are long overdue and have yet to be written; but they are upcoming.

    I hope you and Drew are doing well…

    • Ah yes, we did just miss one another! I’ll be curious to read your trip reports and see what the other Hurghada Hiltons were like. (We only visited the one in Hurghada.)

      We are doing great. 🙂 Thanks for the well-wishes. Hope you’re doing well also! (And thanks for dropping by! 🙂 )

  3. Actually, I take that back: the least expensive Hilton resort in Hurghada — the Hilton Hurghada Resort — is NOT all-inclusive; though I believe you can pay more for it to be all-inclusive.

    I hope you are not at the Hilton Hurghada Plaza — the construction currently going on there was quite annoying. Thank goodness I was only there for one night.

    At which Hilton resort in Hurghada had you stayed: Hilton Hurghada Resort, Hilton Hurghada Plaza, or Hilton Hurghada Long Beach Resort?

    • We stayed at the Hilton Hurghada Resort. I thought the rooms were really great and homey feeling. We also didn’t do the all-inclusive part- just the breakfast. Actually, they were doing some construction with a new pool too, but it wasn’t a very big project so it really didn’t effect our stay at all.

      Now we are at the Radisson Blu El Queseir and it’s maybe our favorite from the stay so far, though I liked the Hilton Hurghada Resort and the Hilton WaterFalls Sharm El Shiq too. I can’t believe how cheap these resorts are!!!

  4. Yes, resorts are not me and the missus’s thing (HaleyB). We usually go places to see the local things and experience the places that you find after exploring a bit and resorts aren’t made for that, they’re made for sitting around not seeing the local things and overpaying to do a limited set of sanitized hermetically sealed activities. Except Disney World. That’s different. Really.

  5. Have you read “A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again”? Your post brought it to mind.

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