Sunday, February 16, 2014

All Inclusive, A Little slice of Heaven or of Hell?

We are booked into the Cinnamon Bey Resort Hotel in Moragalla Beruwela for 28 nights.
We are staying on an all inclusive basis.  This is my first time holidaying on this basis. Having seen a lot of debate as to whether all inclusive packages are good for the local economy, it is interesting to find myself staying on such a package. It is not something that I would ever have booked of my own accord but it is part of the volunteering package. So the question is, is it a little slice of heaven or of hell?

The poolside bar and ice cream emporium.
The Cinnamon Bey is a hotel is situated on the beachfront at Moragalla. It is built on the site of two former hotels that were destroyed by the tsunami in 2004. The hotel is fenced off from the public beach with security guards on the gate.  Why?  As soon as you step onto the beach there are ladies trying to sell you sarongs. They will chase you up and down the beach and "want to be your friend" in the hope of selling you something. They fill you with stories about being poor but in reality they are making 1000 Sri Lankan Rupees on each sarong they sell. Presuming they sell 10 a day they make a profit of 10,000 LKR. In comparison travel reps earn approximately 1000 LKR a day. 

So the tendency is to stay in the hotel garden away from the hassle. You'd think I would be used to it fro Turkey. But I know how to handle it there.
Sarong ladies waiting outside the fence.

The garden from my balcony.

The view from the balcony.
The hotel rooms are spacious. They have a large ensuite, with the toilet separate from the shower. This would be great for a couple sharing. The bed is turned down every evening and tonight there was a flower left on it.

Chaise longue on the balcony

The toilet  is separate, to the left, shower to the right. All of this is behind lattice screens

Flowers left on my bed, they got moved to the table, note the ant on upper left flower.
Looking at the garden from my balcony the place definitely looks like a little slice of heaven, the palm trees swaying in the breeze and the waves breaking on the coral reef outside.

The coral reef.
All inclusive means that we can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Bufe restaurant, the main hotel restaurant. As the name implies it is an all you can eat buffet.  With a huge variety of food, some of which is cooked in front of you, it takes a lot of will power not to overindulge. As an alternative, we can have a set two courses in some of the other restaurants, Mezze, Fire, Rock Salt ....... also all local alcohol and soft drinks are included. Dangerous!!

These are just some of the hot options for breakfast.

Cooked to order
The healthy option.
The most dangerous part of the breakfast buffet for me.

A bulbul gets in on the act.
View from the breakfast table
Bufe restaurant

We were given a lovely blue plastic band to wear for the 28 days and nights. Adrian, our local rep suggested putting it on our room key ring. A good suggestion as I can only imagine the wear and tear I would subject it to in the coming weeks. Also every time I'd step out of the hotel I would be a marked woman. And of course, being as fashion conscious as I am, it doesn't match all my outfits. How shocking!

But is all inclusive a little slice of heaven? After a couple of days in some ways it feels more like a trap or a prison. My Irish phone doesn't work here. Is that the reason the Sri Lankan government give out free SIM cards at the airport? The internet is very erratic, early morning and late evening seem to be the best time to get a connection, sometimes there is no connection at all.  Apart from the fact I am an internet junkey, it makes it difficult to stay in touch with Mum back home. I am used to ringing her on Skype twice a week. I got through to her phone twice but each time it was impossible to hear her. The signal kept breaking up. It made me feel quite isolated.

When you walk out of the hotel you need a tuk tuk to get to the nearest village or town and you have to barter like crazy. Again you would assume I would be used to bargaining from all my time in Turkey, but in a new place it takes time to learn how the "game" is played locally, so the tendency is to avoid it like the plague. You need to know where you want to go and approximately how much it should cost.

It is strange not to pay for anything in the hotel. If, for example, you order fresh orange juice or non local alcohol which is not on the all inclusive package,it is added to your final bill. This again could be dangerous especially when staying for 4 weeks. It could be hard to keep track and your bill could come as quite a shock.

For me, if I was here simply for a holiday, I would find the all inclusive basis very prescriptive. When I used to take package holidays, the joy was in being able to go out and wander at will and choose from a vast variety of restaurants each night. When you have paid for the all inclusive package the tendency is to stay put.

Trouble in paradise? A couple of these guys had a feast on my legs. Don't put the sunbeds in the shade under the trees!
I am looking forward to starting in the school on Monday, it will be nice to leave the cocoon and find our way about. Even from these few short days I know that all inclusive holidays are not for me, unless it was a week somewhere warm and sunny in the midst of a very bleak winter!

Sunset on Moragalla Beach.

Have you stayed in an all inclusive hotel and if so, is it your idea of heaven or hell?


  1. The hotel looks wonderful, the room, the balcony, the garden and the sea.......I'd be in there like a shot! Just to feel warm would be bliss. If I was there, I'd have to be very strict with myself, I'd eat lots of fruit to feel full thus avoiding the sweet tempting stuff!! I would have myself nice brisk walks on the beach and then on a Saturday night....I'd treat myself to cakes and all those nice delicious treats!! The only thing that would bother me is those big brown ants!! Mary, can you get a spray to protect yourself from them?

    1. You are so disciplined Noreen. I am eating lots of fruit and veg, but I'm afraid the desserts are. More than Saturday nights. I try to keep the potions small and do some swimming every day. The trick with the ants is not to go right under the trees!


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