We tried something new on our trip to Bali recently. We booked an All Inclusive Resort. I have always had a little voice saying 'give it a go,' the same voice that tells me to do a cruise holiday and maybe, just maybe, book a tour group holiday with the kids. I've never been one to do these sorts of holidays, so it leaves me questioning my thoughts and why they are rising.
Well, when we found a resort, Sol Beach House Benoa, for what ended up costing us just $500 more than the typical resort (that we were looking at) which included only breakfast, I decided to jump.
Sol Beach House included all meals, all drinks including non-imported alcoholic, daily activities including yoga, shows at night and bike hire. It sounded too good to be true. I love yoga, Belle and Ashton would love the shows at night, and we'd love not having to pay for food that only gets half eaten at times. We could eat whenever we want without needing to find a good restaurant we all like. Ben and I could do yoga every day without paying the usual $10-20 per session. Yes!
Well, it wasn't exactly like that.
On arrival, I found a room with only three beds - two singles and a rollaway. But there are four of us. I ask housekeeping about another bed, and they were going to bring in another, but then all floor space would be filled. It'd be a room of mattresses. Not ideal. I head to reception and ask what can be done. After a little 'strong' discussion, we arrange for the sofa bed to be made up as another bed. I mention that perhaps their website shouldn't allow for me to book this room for four people if they don't allow four people in it.
The activities were occasional. Yoga once during our stay. The Shows late for the kids (9 pm) and at times B-grade. Think scantily clad girls on sticks covered in glow sticks bopping to club music for four songs.
The food was fresh and salads were yummy - but it was all very similar every day. I missed going out and discovering new places to eat but didn't want to 'waste' our money by not utilising what we had paid for with the resorts all inclusive rate.
The resort was not horrible - it was nice. A lovely reception area with swing chairs that the kids loved. They also loved playing darts and pool in the games room - but couldn't access the kids play room as it was always shut.
The staff was friendly. The pool towel guy especially kind - helping me look around the resort, and get the word out to other staff and guests when Ashton run away from me one day.
Sidenote: Ashton ended up running back to the room with Ben, but meanwhile I left Belle in the pool with a new friend's Grandma watching over her, and was running all over the resort in my bikini calling for him. The new friends Dad run in the opposite direction and asked everyone if they had seen a little boy. It was a very scary 10 minutes for me.
I missed the chat and friendships from the small resort and didn't want to interrupt anyone from their sunbathing over a book. Eventually, we did find people to strike up a conversation with. They mentioned they had been to better all inclusive resorts in the area - in the sense of more atmosphere and greater food selection. Perhaps you do get what you pay for - funny that.
I'm not saying this resort is bad, or that my decision was wrong - I guess I had to do it to realise that this concept is completely not my scene. Especially after coming from a small, friendship focused surf camp in the 'jungle' of Padang Padang. Culture shock.
Should I try a cruise ship holiday or squash the thought?