How Resorts Can Ruin Your Trip

Bali Indonesia Sunset

How Resorts Can Ruin Your Trip

Resorts have a tendency of detaching you from a destination. They purposefully seclude guests in an effort to predict and control your travel experience. This works for several reasons. Most importantly, it allows the resort or hotel to ensure your safety, which is a common concern among tourists. High gates, regulated visits, and hard to reach locations ensure that the guests encounter fewer unknowns, leading to a more filtered experience.

Massive structures act as a barrier to entry – and exit, keeping you detached from the local surroundings. This tactic makes you susceptible to their built-in sales pitches and places you at the mercy of their overpriced amenities. You will likely book tours with their in-house tour operators. You will eat at their restaurants, drink at their bar, and utilize their prescheduled transportation. For the tourist, this means predictability. For the resort, this leads to higher per-guest revenue. It’s in the hotel’s best interest to keep you as secluded and dependent as possible.

While resorts prove practical for some travelers, there are several negatives that come with these all-inclusive confinements. Typically, resorts distance themselves from the local community. They want enough sprawling land to manicure tropical flowers, erect brick and iron gates, and hide the sometimes unsightly aspects of a city. While the lush grounds can be a pleasant backdrop, they also act as a barricade to the real destination.

Instead of sitting on your front stoop and watching the local life, you are forced to interact with fellow travelers who are, in most cases, very much like yourself. You leave with a very limited understanding of the local culture and people. You never get a natural introduction to the place you are visiting. If tourists frequently stay in Western-style resorts, they become accustomed to the sanitized and culturally scrubbed aesthetic and start to expect the same experience at every destination.

Independently ran accommodations offer a plethora of benefits while shedding the prepackaged itineraries.  Generally, mom-and-pop hotels are situated near popular local areas which means they are more likely to provide an authentic experience. While you can still ask the front desk for recommendations on dining, transportation, and activities, they will most likely direct you to locally-ran establishments. You keep your tourism dollars in the community while actually experiencing the place you flew 1,200 miles to visit.

Think of this analogy: You use the restroom at an unfamiliar restaurant. You’re escorted to the facilities at the rear of the building. You don’t talk to the waitstaff or other patrons, you don’t meet the chefs, and you don’t eat any of the food. There is no chance to linger at your table, caught up in great conversation and heavy pours of the local libations. You may be able to describe certain parts of the interior, maybe even the smells radiating from the kitchen, but did you actually experience the restaurant? Could you give an honest and informative review to friends? When you are shuttled from airport to resort and back, you are left with a very restricted encounter. Limited experiences lead to ill-informed travelers and lackluster trips. Don’t spend your trip in the bathroom.

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