The aspirational Cotswold mummy blogger in me wants to post about beautiful holiday villas and views but there’s also a side of me (from childhood, which included holidays to Butlins and package tours everywhere!) that wants to show the benefits of going to a 3* all inclusive hotel in Majorca.
With three boys: Ed, 3, my stepsons, 12 and 16 and my mum coming along, we had to think what would be best for our holiday this year. A villa? Too much cooking, washing-up and work. A 4* hotel? Too expensive and a waste of money as our kids wouldn’t notice all the extra luxuries. Camping? Tried that last year in a really old tent…
In my opinion, you can be paying over the odds for a holiday with your kids in a ‘posher’ hotel..read Dear Hotels, when did kids become so important? There are of course pros and cons to any holiday..especially with kids and I explore that here. I would love to know what other people do for their holidays but have a read of our experience of a 3* all inclusive.. you might find you’re tempted!
1) The Other Holiday-Makers: Rough (or salt-of-the-earth as my mother calls them!) Admittedly, there was a near fight at one end of the pool at the start of the week (I think they were from Manchester..) and the hotel had to call the police. BUT, by the end of the week it all seemed quite peaceful (apart from a loud group of Bristolians but they never start fights..) By the end of the week we were friendly with everyone, mainly through my mother! There are a range of accents that you won’t understand but there are usually enough other middle-class people around looking as bemused and resigned as you.
2) Unlimited Food and Drink: Pros – you don’t have to cook or clear up and think about what to eat as there are multiple options. Your kids can go and get a drink or ice cream without asking you and it’s all a bit of a novelty for them. Yes, the restaurant can be full of fat people who are piling on food or wasting it which is something to get used to seeing! It’s also not a great lesson for kids and eating as they can ‘eat what they want’ and see other people leaving their food. The food is also a bit bland..BUT it’s only a week and it’s just nice to not have that chore. Oh, and you can drink unlimited alcohol from 10am to 11pm..(I may have had a few beers/sangrias but not before 5pm or maybe 4pm…)
3) Holiday Reps – They are fantastic when you have kids! Yes, there’s the 10am ‘talk’ where you can go to learn how to catch a bus and about places to go if you can’t read a guide book. BUT, there is also the ‘Kids Club’ reps who have 100 times more energy than you and it’s worth putting your kids in for a bit. (I did feel a bit guilty as I’m on holiday with Ed but he loved it and I got the chance to read my book!) We also enjoyed evening entertainment which was highly watchable at times with the reps doing a disco with the kids and a few outside shows including an amazing Michael Jackson tribute act.
4) Sun Loungers – Thankfully, my mother is a pro at this: you have to ‘save’ your lounger for the day by getting a towel on them at 6am. They are all tightly packed together like sardines and usually plastic. BUT it’s quite fun choosing different spots to sit in round the pool throughout the week and you can even move later on in the day to another spot to get a different view! At 4/5* hotels there is a better class of lounger. These 3* plastic loungers would spring up and hit me in the back everytime I sat up..I just got used to it. (like everything else!)
5) Noise and Activity – It can be noisy! Kids are up at midnight and people aren’t particularly sensitive to walking past your hotel room. There are times when you may encounter a shouty child or one that puts a plastic gun in your face (this happened to my husband and he nearly took it off him and snapped it over his knee.) The dining room is noisy but there are areas where you can get away from it all. There are activities all the time from water aerobics and biking to water carpet fun, darts and football. The reps get everyone involved. My advice: just go with it!
6) Spending Time with the Family – There are loads of other families so your kids will make friends and there’s always some kid having a tantrum or crying. So when I have to remove Ed from the pool for refusing to sit on his inflatable frog the correct way and screaming and shouting about it, I don’t feel guilty or embarrassed at all. Even though the German couple next to us quickly move away, I think…maybe they should have gone to a 4*! These places are great to spend time with the whole family. Sometimes there are minor disagreements or frustrations but , overall..it’s fun! Having a game of cards in the evening, watching the entertainment together, looking at the weird mixtures of food everyone gets at mealtimes. There is always something to do.
By the end of the week, we were loving it! And so were a few other middle-class types who had realised they should just resign themselves to enjoying it. My husband has never been on an all inclusive before but took part in loads of stuff and really enjoyed it.
We sat on a lounger at the end of the last night and thought, you would never be able to ‘have a laugh’ in the same way at other ‘posher’ hotels. We did take a couple of trips out of the hotel..one to the amazing Caves of Drach and to a few beautiful beaches. Next year’s holiday? We’ll see! I would love to know your thoughts on this type of holiday..good or bad!