All Inclusive on Tenerife – Bring me Another Nail for that Coffin

Posted: November 20, 2009 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You can quote all the arguments why people opt for ‘all inclusive’ deals when they go on holiday, but in the last week I’ve witnessed first hand why for local businesses they are as a welcome in a resort as an outbreak of swine flu.

First of all it was Playa Paraiso. We wandered around the little resort during prime lunch time hours. What we saw came as a complete shock.

Every restaurant and bar was almost completely empty – it was a ghost town. And yet there are big hotels right in the centre of the resort… and they weren’t empty. But their occupants weren’t leaving the premises. Even the little beach was empty and the rows of sun beds lay unused.

Lonely Sunbeds

I’ve been reading constantly about the decline of Puerto de la Cruz, but of course we have a thriving and vibrant local scene here; there’s always something going on and Canarios flock here at the weekend, so the reports never quite match the reality. The same can’t be said of the smaller purpose built resorts where the AI hotels are draining every last bit of life from the streets.

Our next experience of the dramatic impact of AI was in Playa de la Arena at the weekend. We’d spent the Saturday night in Puerto de la Cruz, showing my sister and her boyfriend the town.
We’d eaten tapas then strolled along the streets of the old town, where living statues and unusual puppet shows entertained the throng of visitors and locals, before heading to a packed ‘The Majestic’ to watch what must be one of the best acts on the island, ‘Bitter & Twisted’, perform their show which had us all in stitches. It was two in the morning before we knew it.

Switch forward 24 hours and we’re sitting in a bar in the centre of Playa de la Arena at 23.30. There is no-one else in the bar, or any of the bars nearby. It’s uncomfortably quiet.

“It’s the AI,” the owner tells us. “It’s changed everything.”

There are plenty of people about the resort during the day, enjoying strolling around what at this moment is still a pleasantly relaxing resort. However, most of them might as well be carrying bricks and lobbing them through the windows of all the businesses that they pass.

And this is what really irks me about AI. People choose the resort because it has a nice feel to it (maybe they don’t; maybe they’re not arsed as long as the hotel gives them all they want for their handful of silver), but when it loses that feel because the restaurants and shops become boarded up what will they do then? They’ll stop coming, many of them oblivious to the fact that it was they who hammered in the nails on the ‘for sale’ signs.

I’m hoping there will be a backlash and it’ll come sooner rather than later. One business man told us that some of the AI customers who did come in to his bar moaned that the quality in the Playa de la Arena hotel had plummeted. You might say that as a local businessman who has suffered, it’s no surprise that he would say this.

But recently my neighbour, who like many Canarios spends some weekends in hotels in the south, cut her stay at the Playa de la Arena Hotel short and returned north because she thought the hotel was a disgrace.

It’s a crying shame, but unfortunately greed will ultimately consume and destroy. And in the case of AI hotels, the ‘greed’ accusation shouldn’t simply be levelled at the ‘welcoming foyers’ of the people who own the hotels.

I just hope that there are enough people out there for whom quality is more important than quantity and that the age of the AI will come to an end sooner rather than later.

  1. Phil Crean says:

    What you say is unfortunately very true. However it is the greed of the tour operators who force the hotels into this awful situation by threatening to send guests elsewhere if the package they require to maximise their profits is not made available. And once they’ve succeeded in destroying the resort they’ll just move on to another.

  2. dragojac says:

    Good point, Phil.

    To me it all seems terribly short sighted. Surely better to work together with local communities for the long term benefit for everyone. By destroying them, the tour companies will ultimately shoot themselves in the foot.

  3. Colin Kirby says:

    I suggested to a councillor a year ago that the councils should make All Inclusives only 6 days a week, allowing one day at least, when visitors would venture out to try a local business. On that set day each week, bars, restaurants etc could do specail offers and deals to entice people in-maybe when they pay the bill, they get a discount voucher for another day. At least that gives them a chance, the hotels gain as the lazy ones that wont go out will be paying money across the hotel bars etc.
    The councillor said it wasnt that easy, and they dont want to drive the big hotel and holiday companies away – feeble answer.

  4. AI in Tenerife is a ridiculous idea, food is cheap enough and its not like the Mexico’s of this world where leaving the resort is not reccomended.

    I can seea dvanteage to those with young childrenw ho want want want but the food and entertainments in Tenerife is brilliant so why stay in ahotel which could, quite frankly be in any part of the world.

    If you go to Tenerife get out and live a little you might be surprised!

    • dragojac says:

      I agree about it being a good option for those with young children, Jacqui, especially if they don’t have a high income. Apart from that, I just don’t see the attraction for anyone who enjoys travel, food, exploring places etc. We’ve just had a great time following a tapas route – €2.50 for a tapas plus beer, or wine. Not exactly expensive and we got to try lots of different types of dishes.

      People who go AI miss out on this sort of thing on Tenerife and generally end up eating mediocre food.

  5. […] not the biggest fan of All Inclusive hotels. I believe they take money away from local businesses and encourage visitors to stick to their hotels…even more so than normal. But this week I stayed in an AI hotel for the first time and whilst […]

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