Why I hate resort vacations

Dear Resort Vacation, we need to talk.  I’ve loved you since my first stay in Bali in 1989.  Mr Frugalfirstclass and I have had many wonderful experiences with you – including our wedding in Mauritius.  I even took MissG on her first mother-daughter trip on a resort vacation.  And we loved it.  But you are making me feel uneasy.  Don’t worry, it’s not you who’s changed, it’s me.  A resort vacation just isn’t me anymore.  A resort vacation makes me someone I’m not comfortable being…….


waves lapping on a beach, Phuket, Thailand

Yes, a resort vacation does have a certain allure

Reasons why a resort vacation is the best type of holiday

I’m the first to admit, you do have many redeeming features.

You make me feel just so relaxed.  In your airconditioned comfort, and huge king size bed, I always sleep like a baby.  I often take a little Nanna nap in the afternoon.  I love lolling around by your pool (or pools), where a cocktail or a snack is just a simple request away.

No matter where I am you always have such a beautiful outlook or vista for me to admire.  You seem specifically designed to ensure that everything around me is just so pretty, so manicured, so perfect.  From picture perfect sunrises, to dramatic colourful sunsets.

pink bouganvillea on a balcony overlooking a lagoon

Gorgeous outlooks everywhere…..

You are so clean and hygienic.  Every day we return to our room and it is like brand new.  The only smells are of the frangipani in the garden and the gardenia scent of the  shower gel and body lotion in our show home fresh bathroom.  And speaking of your bathroom, why do now spoil us with outdoor showers and plunge baths?  Once upon a time you didn’t have them, and now we can’t even contemplate a resort stay without one……..

outdoor shower, Angsana Laguna Phuket

A room without an outdoor shower is now unimaginable

Then there’s your food.  Ah, yes, your food.  You know what I’m talking about, so don’t be coy about it.  The breakfast buffet, where everything from an omelette to a croissant to a rice congee is within easy reach.  The fact that you let us keep going back for plate after plate after plate……. You make MissG a hot chocolate, so perfectly decorated it puts even a trendy hipster Sydney barista to shame.  Then there’s the lunch, the pool snacks and the dinner buffet.  Dessert after dessert after dessert – you wicked, wicked thing, you!!

mango cheeks with sticky rice and a silver spoon

Your food, your food, your food…….

Your staff are always so perfect.  We love them.  They spoil MissG something terrible.  No matter where we are, you always seem to be in a location where children are made to feel like princes and princesses.  So polite, so quiet, so attentive and respectful.  They always get to know us so well, that by the time we leave, we don’t need to ask for our favourite table.  They know our coffee order at breakfast.  We feel spoilt, with every smile, and every “you’re welcome, Madame”.

sunset on a lagoon, Angsana Laguna Phuket

Our favourite restaurant table

But there are things you do that drive me crazy………

You appear so perfect, you lull me into a false sense of security.  Like a suave, smooth talking boyfriend you think you can get away with anything.  But your “perfection” doesn’t fool me…….oh, no, I’m onto you!

white Singapore orchids

Picture perfect, but is it real?

That buffet.  The devil incarnate.  It always makes me feel guilty for eating so much.  It’s always so crowded.  People behave so rudely – pushing in, overfilling their plates, stuffing their faces, and worst of all – stealing food to eat later!  How does this happen?  Instead of our breakfast being a relaxing, enjoyable start to our day, we spend the time whinging and whining about our fellow vacationers.  Such a negative vibe….. At dinner, we sit trying to politely ignore the horrid table manners of other peoples’ children.  We delicately sidestep the carnage on the floor around their tables – sometimes I think there’s more food on the floor than in the mouths……

crowds of people round a breakfast buffet

Chaos at the breakfast buffet

You make it so easy for us to stay within you.  The arguments we have with MissG to drag her away from the pool for a morning or an afternoon, let alone a whole day.  When we do go out, it’s hot.  Our hermetically sealed, air conditioned bubble is smashed.  We get hot, we get sweaty, and we feel less relaxed……

palm trees on a lagoon

Yes, you are picture perfect…..

Outside also smells.  But not of frangipani and gardenia.  It smells of strong local cigarettes, 2 stroke fumes from all the motorcycles.  But worst of all it smells of rubbish.  And sometimes sewerage.  Sometimes it smells of delicious local street food, but somehow that’s not enough.  It’s the rubbish and sewerage smells that seem to linger in our memories and nostrils.  The really sad part is that outside smells “right”.  It smells local, and real and authentic.  You don’t – your smell is designed to seduce tourists, and while it’s delicious I hate you for it.

Locals waiting outside our resort

Locals waiting outside our resort

When there are groups of you, you often seem to bring out the worst in local people.  You turn them into grasping, opportunistic caricatures of local people.  No, I don’t want a massage.  No, I don’t want my hair plaited (and no, neither does MissG).  And no, I definitely don’t want a taxi……  I want to walk around your market.  I want to wander your beach without being accosted.  You make me so confused, that I don’t know what’s real.  I get cynical.  Are the staff in the resort so lovely because they fear losing their jobs if they aren’t?  Is it all an elaborate charade to extract more money out of us for greedy corporate owners?  Am I being rude to locals on the street just trying to make a buck, because I assume they are all out to rip me off?

sunset at Bang Tao beach Phuket Thailand

I end up feeling I don’t understand your people.  I leave your country and don’t have a real sense of place.  This doesn’t happen when I travel, as opposed to staying put inside you.  Yes, I love you.  I love how Mr Frugalfirstclass, MissG and I have time to relax together as a family.  I love how we don’t have to make a lot of decisions.  I love how we have no “to do” list of sites and activities to see and do.  I love how we have no deadlines.  But you have to know, you will never be my true love.  You have a place in my life, and always will, but touring and travelling is always where my heart belongs, and it always be my one true love.

Love Jo



18 Comments on “Why I hate resort vacations”

  1. Anne Sutherland-Smith 08/02/2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Jo, we are not big resort people but I can totally understand your perspective. The same was true when we visited Vanuatu a few years ago and stayed in a resort complex. It is all lovely but when you step outside you also realise just how many people are living in poverty and it is so different to the environment inside the resort that you are left with a really jarring feeling about it…

  2. Pamela 08/02/2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Husband and I never been resort people. Prefer to stay in simple hotels de charme in Europe in the real world. Partly because we don’t like the idea of lounging by a pool all day, only getting up for the buffet. We enjoy sightseeing – walking through villages, galleries, museums, churches, parks and gardens, shopping in little boutiques or markets. Talking to the locals. Driving through beautiful country side and stopping off to enjoy. Actually enjoy having a “to do list” but not cramming it or feeling under pressure. We work out some of the things beforehand and even read novels or poetry by regional writers or books set in the areas to be visited – but always leave space for the spontaneous – for serendipitous discoveries while there.

    Don’t want to be insulated away from the real world. Have lived in a turbulent developing country and visited many so we’re used to smells and poverty and risks. It’s confronting and hard to deal with even when you’re not staying in a super luxurious resort. But think I’d feel very guilty if I were.

    Also don’t like the idea of having to sit alongside greedy people with ghastly table manners.

    But each to her or his own. Best wishes, Pamela

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 08/02/2015 at 6:26 pm #

      I did come back incredibly relaxed, so maybe for me it’s a necessary evil……the resort we stayed at was quite expensive and high end – I couldn’t believe the behaviour of some guests. Almost as if they’d paid for the right to be pigs – horrid.

      • Pamela 08/02/2015 at 6:39 pm #

        Despite what I’ve said above, I could enjoy maybe two days like that (though having red-headed fair skinned genes, can’t take much sun) but after that would begin to feel bored. However, can imagine if you have a very busy professional life, as we both used to do, a resort might be the answer. Still, don’t think I could cope with more than two days – and certainly not with the porcine peoples! Pamela

  3. Rachel 08/02/2015 at 6:58 pm #

    We stayed at a resort like that once, but our fellow guests’ bad behavior overwhelmed any chance of relaxation. Pushy and rude at meal times, claiming chairs for the whole day, getting drunk and even ruder in the evenings. We hated it. The holiday wasn’t a complete loss since we were able to go diving most days, but still… never again!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 08/02/2015 at 7:05 pm #

      We were very lucky Rachel in that the resort wasn’t terribly crowded – otherwise it would have been unbearable. The irony was I’d carefully chosen an area and a resort where I thought we’d be well away from that crowd…..

  4. Geek Goddess 09/02/2015 at 3:13 am #

    I stayed in two different Club Meds (Mexico and the Bahamas) in the mid-80s. Since its been so long ago, I gave no idea if they’ve changed, but at huge time they were fairly pared down. Simple but clean, but not with the indulgences you’ve mentioned. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, but I do not recall the bad behavior. I do not like buffets, at all. You’ve made the resorts sound both wonderful and appalling.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 09/02/2015 at 6:27 am #

      That’s the thing, Naomi – they are wonderful and appalling. Just like a really bad boyfriend…..

  5. jenny@atasteoftravel 09/02/2015 at 6:25 pm #

    I have never been a resort girl either Jo. We went to a couple in Bali when the girls were very young but I must admit we haven’t been to one since and I doubt we ever will. I’m not a cruise girl either for the same reasons that you don’t like resorts.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 09/02/2015 at 7:13 pm #

      It really was so relaxing Jenny, but I don’t know, it just didn’t feel “right”……

  6. Debra Barnes 10/02/2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Hear! Hear! I’m so glad you wrote this jo because thats exactly how I felt, and I’ve never stayed in one since

  7. anda@travelnotesandbeyond.com 10/02/2015 at 7:22 pm #

    I totally understand your perspective,Jo. We stayed in a resort only twice, in Mexico. The discrepancy between the luxury that our resort was displaying and the poverty outside its gates was a rude awakening… Made us feel like we were not deserving the first class treatment.

  8. Ashleigh 11/02/2015 at 7:32 am #

    Oh how I hear you… There is one resort I truly love and can’t imagine that changing any time soon (The Surin Phuket in Thailand) but other than that get me out of a resort and show me the real country!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 12/02/2015 at 7:26 pm #

      Interestingly Ashley my epiphany around this topic came as a result of a recent visit to Phuket. Must check your preferred option out!

  9. Heather @ TravelingSaurus 12/02/2015 at 10:49 am #

    Yup, this pretty much sums up my internal monologue these days! Good job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: