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AI Bali hotel located in La Cala
The unstoppable rise of the All Inclusive holiday to Benidorm continues to spark tension between hoteliers, restauranteurs and retailers. Javier Garcia, deputy president of HOSBEC, the hoteliers association said that "If we did not offer All Inclusives then we would loose customers. People want to ensure that their holiday budget is clear - this market has grown and continues to grow and if we did not offer it people would go to other destinations". Approximately 10,000 out of the 40,000 hotel beds in Benidorm are now being taken on an All Inclusive basis - a staggering 25% of the market! However that figure does not include self catering apartments, villa rentals or campsites which takes the figure up to 200,000.

Hotel Levante Club
However, owners of shops, bars and restaurants have strongly attacked this hotel arrangement, which they claim causes major losses or even forces businesses to close said the president of "Abreca"- the association of bars & restaurants, one of the sectors most affected by the all inclusive.

Benidorm mayor Agustin Navarro stated that "hoteliers understand that they are in the hands of tour operators" but he wanted to emphasize that the all inclusive "for the city is catastrophic, not only for our industry but for all of Benidorm" - so we know which camp he sits in as he certainly backs the thoughts of "Abreca" !

On speaking to people on their thoughts about All Inclusives in Benidorm there are many mixed views. Those that favor them are generally families with young children but many commented that the food offered within these packages is basic and very limited.
But even those that have stayed at an AI have noticed that standards have slipped. One couple that had stayed at the Levante Club then returned 10 months later noticed a marked difference. "The spirits were awful" and many now offer a premium drinks upgrade! AI´s only give local spirits but they have caught onto the trend that some people will pay extra for branded drinks - and many AI´s have started offering this option.

Flamingo Oasis
One group of holiday makers staying at the Flamingo Oasis said that although she can generally find something to eat at the buffet, she no longer looks forward to the meals and certainly doesn´t enjoy the long queues that form at the buffet counters - a common complaint. Another thing which she noticed is that they now no longer offered bottled water.

But most people said that eating and drinking is such good value in Benidorm why bother going AI. With so much choice it is better to go self catering or on a bed & breakfast basis. The whole point of going on holiday is to try different places and if you are booked into an AI then you begrudge "paying again" ... which was a common held view. All of the All Inclusive hotels are in the Rincon area - non are located in the Old Town where you will find smaller and more traditional ones.

I spoke to one family staying AI at the Sol Pelicanos as they tucked into lunch at a local British bar! I asked why they weren´t eating at the hotel and they said that all the food looks the same day after day " it gets boring - we wanted something different". They also criticized the fact that they were not allowed to use the swim up bar in the pool. Apparently it was for "premium AI customers only"... something they were not even offered when they were booking. Even when they went to the other bar on the opposite side of the pool area they were restricted to 2 drinks which meant that the husband couldn´t get a drink for himself, his wife and young child. "I understand people taking advantage (he didn´t actually use that word but another more direct meaning) but I only wanted a beer and 2 cokes".
Sol Pelicanos

All Inclusives always have buffet style dining... you tend to get the same food day after day. In Benidorm there has been a marked rise in the amount of Chinese Wok style buffet restaurants - you go and help yourself to ready made dishes or have the option of picking raw meat/fish and then taking it to the chef to cook. But many people say that they don´t like queuing - if they go out to a restaurant they want to be served, otherwise its just like being at home. It certainly is good value at 10 euros per adult for all you can eat but depends whether you mind having to get it yourself.

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