All Inclusive on Tenerife, A Different View

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m 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 the experience was never going to change my view, it did highlight a couple of things that I hadn’t previously considered.

On Monday we met up with directors Chris Clarkson and Alan Gilmour and families at the Roca Nivaria in Playa Paraiso. Nice, nice hotel by the way, so I have to admit to being slightly seduced from the moment I walked through the door to see décor that was stylish, contemporary and imaginative.

Things got even better when the receptionist laughed when I asked about the tell tale wristband that identifies visitors as AI.

“No, not here, that would leave a white band on your sun tan.”

I’d never thought about that. Nearly All AI visitors must return from their holidays with more white bits than most.

At the Roca Nivaria, a swipe card is evidence of AI status. Smart eh?

It leads to an almost surreal ordering of drinks, yet maintains a social habit that is strangely re-assuring as Chris, Alan , Andy or I could say “I’ll get this,” and hand over the card to ‘pay’ even though in reality everything was already paid for.
From a punter’s point of view and especially ones with families I can see how easy it is to spend your holiday not having to count the pennies, or sort out who was getting what, when. It makes life very easy.

But what about the effect on businesses outside? That’s where I take real issue with and disapprove of the potential consequences of  AI. But like I said at the start, staying in Playa Paraiso threw another aspect into the debate for me. Much of Playa Paraiso in my view gives the impression of a tired, run down resort. The bars and restaurants outside the hotel look exactly like the sort I expected to find in Playa de las Américas when we first moved to Tenerife; dated and uninspiring remnants of a Tenerife circa 1985. However, Las  Américas has moved on.

Now move inside the hotel. Modern, appealing décor, great food, friendly service, beautiful gardens, nightly entertainment, craft fairs, stylish bar areas – all in all an attractive and well run 21st century 5 star hotel. The question that came into my head, and unsurprisingly others in our group, was ‘why on earth would I leave this to go to outside to establishments I wouldn’t go near in Britain?’

The simple answer is I wouldn’t. It made me realise that whilst we’ve never stayed AI anywhere, we have stayed half board and have travelled to places where we’ve never eaten outside the hotel, or gone to bars outside the hotel. It’s rare but it’s happened. After a reccie outside a hotel in Tunisia, we decided there was absolutely nothing of interest. The bars were dire and restaurants unauthentic.
Similarly in Playa Paraiso, even if I wasn’t staying AI, after a look around outside, I would have hot-footed it back to the hotel and the promise of style and quality.

There are a lot of closed down businesses in Playa Paraiso, but the question is are they closed because of AI, or are they closed because they just weren’t good enough? If I arrived in Playa Paraiso without knowing anything about it, I’d be bitterly disappointed with what I found. When I walked into the Roca Nivaria I’d sigh with relief  and think ‘thank god this is here.’ And that raises another issue. Businesses on Tenerife have to move forward with the time whether they’ve got an AI hotel beside them or not. In other resorts AI has unarguably had a detrimental impact. In Playa Paraiso though I point a finger at bar and restaurant owners and say ‘J’accuse’ for resting on your laurels. What you are offering is just not good enough for the modern traveller.

Ironically in this instance, if it wasn’t for the presence of the two luxury hotels on the coast, there would be no reason at all to visit the place and it might really be dead by now.

But here’s something else interesting which murkies the water. AI in the Roca Nivaria stops at 11pm. After that there’s nothing to keep clients in the hotel. I know for some that going out at that time might seem odd, but people are on holiday (it’s early to us who live here and observe local patterns). So, in theory an attractive and modern bar with entertainment till 2am might bring the  clientele from the hotels.

But it would take a brave entrepreneur to test this, especially considering that at 11pm, the lounges and bars in the Roca Nivaria almost completely emptied of people…all except the crew who ordered another bottle of wine.

But if most guests go to bed the minute they have to start paying for things, then there isn’t much hope for the place.

  1. I agree with your comments on hotels. When I go to Greece I always try to stay in small family places. Last week I went to Marrakech and stayed in a small Riad in preference to the shiney mulit roomed corporate monsters.

    • dragojac says:

      I’m a big fan of small hotels full of character. I’d choose them any time over the big luxury complexes with all their amenities. I’ve stayed in some great little places in Greece…mezzanine beds in Lindos, tiny hotel overlooking the harbour in Molivos…aah sweet memories. Never stayed in a Riad in Marrakech though, so that’s one for the list.

  2. […] villain by bar owners who have, to be brutally blunt, become lazy. The first clue to this was when we stayed at the Roca Nivaria in Playa Paraiso and the growing belief that this was the case was fuelled further at Playa de la Arena […]

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