Why I’m not a resort person

I mentioned this offhandedly the other day, and it’s something I have to remind myself of whenever I’m tempted by a resort type holiday. Let me explain. It all started in 2011, aka that time we stayed in a resort down the road from Split, in Croatia…

It had been a busy time (I think; I honestly can’t remember) and we thought we’d give a beach holiday a try, having been city break people up until that point. I found a hotel deal, off we went, and then we realised there was an actual real life living breathing Roman palace 40 minutes walk away.

And then we spent our 5 day holiday walking to and from one of the most amazing piece of living history I’ve ever seen. So why didn’t we just stick to our perfectly nice hotel by the beach?

[Here’s the hotel pool, so you can see how nice it is. It was so nice! But we never sat by it.]

Because…

I get bored

My favourite travel activities involve the following:

  • Beautiful historical buildings, preferably with interesting stories attached to them that I can learn about
  • Animals
  • Natural beauty
  • Low-key local eateries

Now name me one resort that contains any of those.

[Split is definitely a whole host of beautiful historic buildings, with more interesting stories to it than I can ever hope to learn]

Maybe I’ll reach a point in life where all I want to do is catch up on my reading by a pool with a cocktail in hand, although at this point I’m mostly teetotal and I can catch up on my reading on my balcony any weekend I like. I just don’t have the pool part fixed up just yet.

That’s not to bash anyone who does enjoy a resort holiday – we’re all different, and that’s ok. I think my issue is paying all that money to go somewhere, and then not seeing any of the things that I personally enjoy.

I hate buffets

This probably makes me a snob but my idea of a bad time is a busy buffet. Not only do people turn into actual zoo animals when faced with that much free food, but there’s never anything that’s gluten free (or hasn’t been cross contaminated by aforementioned animals who don’t know how to use buffet utensils properly). But not all resorts have buffets, I hear you cry! You’re just looking in the wrong places. Ok, well in my experience the alternative to a buffet is usually an overpriced on-site restaurant whose menu staunchly refuses to reflect anything resembling the local cuisine.

[Me about to enjoy some local cuisine]

I’m sure there are exceptions. Probably those giant mega-resorts where there are 17 on-site restaurants to choose from – ehh maybe that would work. But honestly I’d always rather try the local cuisine, wherever possible.

I want to understand

That sounds a bit obtuse but the following sentence doesn’t make a very snappy header: When I travel somewhere, I love trying to experience what life is like as a local. I realise I’ll never actually be a true New Yorker, or a Parisian. But maybe this is the crux of why I moved abroad; to try my hand at being a Sydneysider and living like a local.

[Oh, y’know, just doing my weekly shop in the shade of some almost 2,000 year old walls]

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. Basically, if you stay at a resort you may as well be anywhere. I’ll admit this isn’t always the case; I think people in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora probably appreciate their unique surroundings just fine. But the resorts I’ve stayed in have been very stylish however not reflective of local culture at all.

They are remote

This is probably the main selling point for some people. For me, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve found that resorts tend to be far away from centres of habitation, for cost and space reasons. Again, not always. Those bungalows in Bora Bora are right where you want to be. And most resorts are designed for people who like to stay put and enjoy the pool + cocktails. But if you’re like me and you want to go and see stuff, you’ll end up always having to take an expensive taxi or an annoying bus to get to where the sights are, and it’s a layer of hassle and cost that I just can’t be doing with.

[Just one more of Split. Because it’s so pretty]

So are you a resort person? What am I missing here?

-Rachel

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We all have different travel styles. Some people love resorts - but I'm not one of them. Here are the reasons why... can you relate?

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28 Comments

  1. 12th February 2018 / 19:26

    Nope I totally get you!! We stayed at a resort in Greece once – never again!!! We want to be out and about seeing the sights and learning!!!

    It’s the same with a Cruise – nope! Stuck on a ship with thousands of others arghh

    We stayed in Split – in the palace grounds. Was magic. My favourite city in Europe after that!

  2. 12th February 2018 / 20:27

    I second that! Give me an Airbnb and local food any day… although I wouldn’t mind pool access and children’s activities these days.

  3. 12th February 2018 / 22:35

    Same! Don’t get me wrong sitting by the beach and swimming in the pool is also fun. But I am more of a lets go experience new things and look at new streets kinda tourist. See more local places.

  4. 13th February 2018 / 00:32

    ah all of this i can agree on. but i must say, once in a blue moon, i dont mind a nice resort (maybe it was working in the industry for so many years) where i do absolutely nothing and relax. maybe it’s my old age lol. jk. i completely agree with you when it comes to traveling across the pond (from the US) where i dont want to stay in a resort for all the reasons you listed. i barely spend time in my room – why would i need something crazy? and buffets – gross. they are equivalent to a pot luck in america. haha.

    xoxo cheshire kat

  5. 13th February 2018 / 01:41

    I’m with you on all these reasons! I’m not at the point where I can just sit by the beach for 5 days and do nothing. I like to think that I could, but I know that I can’t. I’m also with you on the buffets. There’s one buffet I like enough (and even then it’s not worth the price for me) at the Four Seasons in Dallas. Most of the time, it just grosses me out! These photos of Croatia are really lovely. The arched wall is especially beautiful! What a thing to see!

  6. kelly
    13th February 2018 / 06:12

    Haha for my 30th we stayed at the Shangri La in Oman…way back in 2010 when people were like, where is that?!?! It’s now appearing on those hot up and coming destination lists, totally ahead of the times…but….I booked us in for 6 nights in a resort and G laughed as he said you won’t be able to sit in a resort for this long…I was like, I can do totally do this…those Croatian genes can be quite stubbon!
    Nope…before my head had even hit the pillow, I had worked out when the next available shutter was into Muscat and had booked two seats…and a day after that, we had hired a car for the rest of our stay.
    Buffets…great…random staff members singing G and I happy birthdays at the resort…weird and embarrassing…resorts…I have the need to escape within 6 hours of checking in.
    Moral of the story – G is right (don’t tell him I said that!) and I really did try my hardest (I even drunk Bacardi on our balcony for breakfast!)…and I still failed at this resort business!

  7. 13th February 2018 / 07:31

    Me too, can manage a couple of nights tops but only in a hotel in a hotel kind of resort. I hate being around other people, Brits abroad and like you no culture or beauty! Boutique and local is always best!! Agree on the Oman ShangriLa, dire and in the middle of nowhere

  8. 13th February 2018 / 07:32

    I’m right there with you without not being a resort person! The only beach vacation we’ve had in the 7 years we’ve been married has been our honeymoon and our trip to Hawaii. I got bored on our honeymoon because it was a lot of beach time and we didn’t spend too much time at the beach or our resort when we went to Hawaii. I’d much rather be out doing something like getting to know the city or the area or trying to act like a local like you! That being said sometimes relaxing is fun, I just would rather do it at home like you!

  9. 13th February 2018 / 11:52

    It’s so true that if you stay at a resort you may as well be anywhere. Although, I wouldn’t mind staying at Atlantis for a weekend 🙂

  10. 13th February 2018 / 16:40

    Amen. Also, I’m pale and get sunburned too easily to sit on a beach all day. We did it once in Fiji and it was nice but Trav was able to scuba dive every day and I did a lot of snorkelling and reading, but by the 4th day we were ready to see something new.

  11. Trudy
    13th February 2018 / 19:07

    I love me a nice luxury hotel, but I don’t stay at resorts often. Like you, I like to get out and see stuff during the day, but I do like coming back to a nice bed and bathroom when I’m done and my feet are aching. I’ve stayed at too many cheap hotels with rock hard beds and bedbugs to do that anymore.

  12. 14th February 2018 / 03:17

    I’ve never been to a resort and I don’t think I’m that kind of person either, but we’re going to Cuba in April and my parents wanted a resort as it was easier and cheaper, so we’re doing that. We shall see how it goes! I’m excited for a little beach time, mostly because living in Scotland has meant not much sun in the last year or two haha

  13. 14th February 2018 / 20:24

    I am with you, i like to get out and explore so whilst I may stay in a resort sometimes, I won’t spend all of my time there. I’m not a sit by the pool all day err’day kind of girl. What a waste of a trip!

  14. 14th February 2018 / 21:31

    I am totally with you! I love to explore places and not sit by a pool. I like to see nature and flowers and ruins – that’s my way of relaxing. I’ve also tried a resort once and learnt from the experience. Happy (non-resort) holidays!

  15. 14th February 2018 / 22:10

    I’m so with you – if only I could have a small private pool with any Air BnB I rent, that would be perfection!

  16. 14th February 2018 / 22:36

    I’m with you! The smaller the better. Have done a couple, but it’s just too much. #wanderfulwednesday

  17. 15th February 2018 / 00:54

    I’m the same way! I love towns with stories and like to stay where the history is! I also hate buffets for the same reason, plus having grown up often going to Vegas, I just am not a big fan of buffets! It’s not the worst thing in the world to not like resorts! #WanderfulWednesday

  18. 15th February 2018 / 03:07

    I could be perfectly happy at a resort and I love the beach. Mainly because my normal day is spent chasing little kids and making sure their needs are met. And let’s be honest here- I’m tired all. the. time. A beach vacation where everything is taken care of and I can just put my kids in the kids club for a few hours and not have to worry about them while I take a little me time by the pool sounds really good to me. That’s why I love cruises so much. That being said, I also like getting out and exploring the culture and local cuisines of the places I travel. So if and when we choose to do a resort vacation, it is pretty rare. #wanderfulwednesday

  19. 15th February 2018 / 04:09

    Totally with you on this!! I actually have only stayed at a couple resorts (and did nooootttt like). I was lucky growing up because my grandparents live on the beach in Florida, so that was always our “resort” vacation – way better than an actual resort. I definitely think being gluten free adds an extra negative aspect to staying in a resort, though! (Buffet animals, and all). I do actually kind of like the idea of a buffet, though… I just have to make a 100% gluten free buffet where only non-zoo animal gluten free vacationers are invited lol.

  20. 15th February 2018 / 04:36

    Totally understand where you’re coming from, I like having some R&R time at my hotels/apartments, but want to explore the place Im visiting too! #WanderfulWednesday

  21. 15th February 2018 / 08:32

    I feel the same exact way. The one and only time I stayed at a resort in Mexico, I got a bit of cabin fever. Our 3rd day there, I told my husband I was going on an excursion with or without him because I was determined to see more of Mexico outside of the “catered experience” lol.

  22. 16th February 2018 / 05:37

    I AM a resort person and a City vacation person. I like them both! I also grew up in So California around a beach lifestyle so I’ve always had a love for it. City vacations are amazing. OMG your Europe pics are making me want to go back! They also tend to be a bit exhausting (in the best way possible) because you want to be out seeing EVERYTHING! The beach vacations are the exact opposite, and I like that too. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for at the time. When we were Europe over the summer I purposefully threw in a beach trip sandwiched between all the city trips just to relax. I’m with you on the buffet thing though. Not really a fan!! I’m fine to do it for breakfast so we can get out and get on with our day, but that’s it.

  23. 16th February 2018 / 13:31

    YES, totally agree with you. I don’t do resorts or cruises. I will do mini beach vacays with family and friends, but 4 or 5 days is my max. I don’t think I could do that abroad, though. Even a Caribbean trip would have to be more than just beach for me or else I’d feel like I didn’t even get a small taste of how the actual locals live.

  24. 16th February 2018 / 17:19

    It’s funny, normally I am totally with you on this! But living in Hawaii, sometimes we go to a resort for a night or two. I love it, but I probably won’t do resort vacations once we don’t live here anymore!!

  25. 17th February 2018 / 22:13

    I hate resorts as well! Basically, I hate tourists and especially those that have no interest in the local culture whatsoever. My own people are particularly good at booking themselves into resorts where everyone else speaks German, spending a week doing absolutely nothing and learning absolutely nothing about the local culture either… I hate this all-inclusive nonsense! And I easily get bored as well so you won’t find me at the beach for more than 2 hours… Sometimes I’m considering taking a vacation somewhere remote just to relax but then I remember that I’ll just get bored anyway and let it be, lol!

  26. 20th February 2018 / 20:16

    I’ve only stayed at an actual fancy resort once, for just two nights, so I don’t have a lot of perspective…I think I’d have to say it depends. I really, really loved our two nights at Pangkor Laut Resort, which is about a 3 hour drive from here and on its own private island. It was a perfect anniversary treat and getaway and the restaurant meals that were included in the deal we got were amazing and we had the funnest time together. Granted, we’re rather energetic so during our short stay we did a cross-island hike and body-surfed waves at the beach and explored basically every corner of the resort.
    The purpose of that getaway was not actual travel by any means, but it was needed time together after our loss last year and I’m so glad we went. I would consider something like that again for another anniversary–just sticking to somewhere local so that we aren’t spending a lot of time and money on transportation, but splurging on a fancy place to be together.
    If the purpose of the trip is actually seeing the world and getting out and exploring, that’s a different story. I love the Airbnb, public transport, eat at grocery stores kind of travel. (Actually, road trips in my own car are my top favorite, but there are a limited number of destinations that we can drive to from here).

  27. 21st February 2018 / 14:50

    I hear you, girl! Definitely not a resort girl, unless I’m going to some place that is only resorts. And very rarely do I do that. I like to explore and discover the local culture and cuisine!

  28. 22nd February 2018 / 06:40

    I absolutely love resorts! And actually, I’ve been to a few that match your criteria.

    I stayed at The Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki in Honolulu, which actually wasn’t a favorite resort, but it was an old resort with history and a tour to match. It’s known as The Pink Palace and it’s where the American navy stayed during WWII. And the real appeal, for me, was the pink building … and the fact that everything was PINK! Seriously, it thrilled me. I don’t really recommend Honolulu as a destination or even that particular hotel unless you are into history and the color pink. lol.

    I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Maui for one reason and one reason only: the animals. It was thrilling to be able to walk the resort and see different animals everywhere, from flamingos, swans, turtles, etc… And a local ice cream cart on the beach in front of the hotel only adds to the charm. My husband and I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time at that hotel.

    Then, there was the Grand Wailea on Maui. The resort was just pretty. And they upgraded myself and my husband to a club lounge room, so we had free drinks, free appetizers, free desserts, and free to go box breakfasts (bread, juice/milk, fruit, protein … I can’t remember what all was in it.). While the appetizers and buffet breakfast weren’t super appealing, the free drinks encouraged me to branch out and try new things I otherwise might not have. And the free breakfast boxes made it easy to take breakfast on the go, perfect for exploring Hawaii.

    To be fair, outside of Hawaii my resort happiness has kind of suffered. I haven’t found many of the things you seek (animals, history, low key restaurants) in many of the mainland resorts. I’m constantly on the lookout, though!

    So, while I do love resorts, I can see why you don’t. Maybe one day you’ll find a resort with the kind of experience you seek. 🙂

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