All Inclusive v Independent
Updated: Sep 6, 2018
If you've ever thought of making Jamaica as your preferred destination…be it honeymoon, girls’ trip, boys golfing holiday, family summer holiday or going solo, you have perhaps seen more of All Inclusive resort advertising than local independent hotels.
Many would have you believe that it is unsafe to visit Jamaica UNLESS you cocoon yourself in an All Inclusive resort. You would have been ‘advised' to only go on a hotel or tour operator organised trip, in transport with other visitors and only interact with those locals who have been ‘approved’ to venture onto the resort to display their crafts and play some reggae music to you whilst you dine.
I would argue what the point would be in going to such a beautiful island paradise full of wonderful kind, warm hearted people if you are happy doing the above. Whilst I can see that there is room for the All Inclusive resorts, I strongly believe that they are for those interested only in nice weather and a decent hotel and the people that stay there don’t have much interest in discovering the Real Jamaica. Those with small children who are forever asking for the next ice cream or soda and want to be playing on the water slides, I get it, an All Inclusive resort may be for you, but for those travelling a long way on a plane, can that not be found closer to home?
By booking into independent accommodation, be it hotel, guesthouse, villa or Airbnb, you will be interacting with the local people. Your accommodation will be in the Jamaican style, serve Jamaican food and you will encounter the Jamaican hospitality and almost certainly have a vista of the Real Jamaica. The local people will show you the places on their island where most tourists will never reach. Instead of the over populated Dunn’s River Falls, how about the rarely visited (in comparison) Blue Hole, Reich Falls, Somerset Falls & Mayfield Falls? Whilst the well known Martha Brae is lovely, how about the longer, more tranquil and authentic rafting on the Rio Grande where Errol Flynn made this pass time popular? How about swapping Jerk meat at Scotchies in Mo Bay, Negril & Ochi and instead visit the home of Jerk meats in Boston, Portland? Get away from Negril beach and explore the darker sand beaches of the south coast or the many white sand beaches around the capital, Kingston?
You can stay in an All Inclusive and see the Real Jamaica, but why waste your money? The food will not be authentic and you will eventually get fed up of eating the same thing. Why pay to have a Chinese, Italian & Japanese restaurant a few steps from your room when you can go out and enjoy those things and more off resort whilst mingling with the local population? By going All Inclusive you are almost tying yourself in to eating at the hotel or you will have wasted money paying for it if you eat off property. Every hotel on the island has security as with most countries, so you are no more secure ‘on resort’ than staying anywhere else on the island. Wouldn’t you rather look around a whole craft market rather than just a stall or two in the reception of your large impersonal hotel, where the prices are very high? The craft seller has to pay huge commissions to the hotel for the privilege of showing you what he has made so of course the prices are going to be much higher and the choice a lot less.
If you are taking the time to visit a small country in the Caribbean, don’t you want to at least get an idea of what its people are like? Ask yourself why the All Inclusive hotels tell people not to go 'off property’ when the stats show that very few tourists come into any difficulty around the island? If you use common sense as you would around any place that was not your home, you stay away from things you shouldn’t be pursuing, in places you shouldn't be with people you shouldn’t be with, then you will get to chatting to the locals who are so very proud of their country. They will invite you to play a game of dominoes, sip the local rum and refresh yourself with a Red stripe beer. They will teach you their local dialect (Patois) and tell you about their culture. They will give you directions if you get lost and the children will want you to speak with them just so they can hear your accent!
By staying in places ‘off resort’ you are contributing to the local economy and learning about the culture of the country you are in. You will feel like you are in Jamaica and you will get to know the Jamaican people.
There are many beautiful properties across the island that you can stay at without having that impersonal ‘could be anywhere’ feel about them. By looking for hotels that are not the large All Inclusive resorts, you will have a wider variety of places to choose from around the island.
Go, explore, have fun and see the Real Jamaica. I am your personal concierge in Jamaica