I was introduced to the wonderful world of travel 6 years ago. I remember that I learned about the term all-inclusive,  whilst doing product training on the Zanzibar properties that the company I was working for were selling. To me, this felt like an absolute wonder! I remember reading about the all-inclusive meal plan for the first time on the five star Plan Hotel property Diamonds La Gemma Dell Est website.

I remember thinking to myself that this resort is extremely clever and was very impressed by them. It took me a few days to realize that the Zanzibar Island was scattered with resorts offering this as their meal plan. I think I asked my employer a number of times if these all-inclusive packages I’m reading about really are the real deal, surely there must be a catch somewhere. He assured me that there was no catch and that all inclusive means all inclusive. Still very new to the art of selling holiday packages I remember thinking that I would definitely focus on just selling all-inclusive packages to prospective clients.

The first time I ever experienced an all-inclusive package was about one year later when Mango airline, Plan Hotel, and the Serena Hotel invited a few companies on an educational to Zanzibar. We arrived the Saturday at Diamonds La Gemma Dells Est with fellow people of the trade. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a resort on a tropical Island and Gemma Dell est is pretty impressive. It’s also a very tough one to beat if that is your first encounter.

Lush tropical gardens, ultra-modern rooms and the spectacular pool view with the large Jetty that overlooks the Indian Ocean. The first thing I did when I arrived at Gemma was to run to the beach, I wanted to see if the water looked what we were being shown on television, it was the prettiest sight. The three nights we stayed at La Gemma Dell est were a proper introduction to the beautiful part of what they call the all-inclusive concept. After leaving for Cape Town by the Tuesday there was no doubt in my mind that the All Inclusive concept was truly great value for money and the only way to enjoy your holiday at a tropical beach resort.


So, what is all inclusive and how does it work?


By now you must know that this refers to the meal plan that you choose when staying at a resort. Many resorts only offer this meal plan, whilst others also offer B&B, Half Board, and Full board as a meal plan when booking accommodation.

I overheard a consultant explaining to her friend one morning what the all Inclusive meal plan is and the explanation was pretty much spot on. Everything and anything that you can stick into your mouth from the morning 7 o clock until the evening 12 o clock is paid for.

That’s the simplest explanation that one would need. Now, there are some rules. Now I can already hear someone say: “ I knew it, I knew there was a catch.” You don’t have to worry, you will not go hungry, you will have great food, and there will be enough beer and cocktails.


 Food, what about the Food?


Most of the all-inclusive resorts in the Indian Ocean Islands have more than one restaurant. But many resorts offer a bigger variety of food outlets. Resorts like Melia Zanzibar and Dream of Zanzibar offer a wide selection of restaurants for you to choose from. At the Emerald Collection Dream of Zanzibar, you can literally dine at a different restaurant every single day. You would be able to stay at the resort for 7 nights and not have the same food twice unless you want too!

Almost all of the resorts and hotels have what they call the main restaurant. This restaurant usually serves Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Buffet Style. These buffets are not the normal geeky buffets that you get at your neighbor’s wedding dinner with the food being either overcooked or cooked hours ago. Here you will find delicious fresh foods, hot and cold served daily. These buffets are alive and a hive of activity with things like live cooking stations and live pasta stations. The main restaurants are always all-inclusive restaurants and you can dine here as many times as you would like. Dining at the rest of the restaurants of a resort you would be subject to the rules of the resort.

There might be a la carte restaurants that serve lobster and expensive specialties that will be an extra charge, restaurants that do not form part of the all-inclusive are always marked clearly for you to differentiate. Most of the time you will have a few all inclusive restaurants options to choose from at a resort. Whatever the options, rest assured you will get enough lobster and prawns to feast like a king. The resorts spoil their guests and apart from the restaurants, you will also be treated to themed evenings. Diamonds La Gemma Dell Est. hosts an African Swahili Evening twice a week for their guests. There is nothing like it in Zanzibar. It’s evening with live cooking stations, BBQ, Massai dancing and music and dancing.

If you are still worried that you might go hungry, the resorts also have snack bars, ice cream bars and some even offer afternoon tea and cakes on the beach. And yes all of this is all-inclusive.


 Drink till you drop.


South Africans traveling to Zanzibar have developed a bit of a reputation for really enjoying the full benefits of the all-inclusive packages on offer when they go on holiday. Its been reported that especially groups and incentives and beach wedding celebrations have been known to really get their money’s worth when visiting the Island

Pretty much whatever it is that you like drinking in South Africa under normal circumstances will be available as part of the all-inclusive package at the resort. The only items not available would be champagne or sparkling wine and Espressos and Cappuccinos and Lattes.

All of the alcoholic beverages like spirits and beers that are included are locally produced in someone`s backyard which ensures that extra kick. This is of course entirely untrue, what is true is that the alcohol is locally produced. Items like Gin, Brandy, Vodka, Cane, and Tequila would be local brands. Beers included in the all-inclusive package are also usually locally produced and extremely popular amongst especially the discerned South African beer lovers. The wines that are available are usually called house wines.

The quality of the wines will vary from resort to resort and you will be surprised to find a number of South African wines on the wine lists. Especially the 5-star resorts can sometimes pack a great surprise with their house wines ranging from Laborie to Durbanville Hills. House wines also sometimes include Spanish or Italian wines. Also included as part of your all-inclusive package would be selected cocktails, a selection of fruit juices, bottled water, coffee, tea and sometimes even milkshakes.

International brands are also available at most resorts but these would be an extra charge to you and do not form part of the all-inclusive package. The resorts do ensure that items are clearly marked so you will be able to see which drinks will be at an extra charge and which ones are included. To ensure that you understand the menus before you start drinking to avoid a large unplanned drinks bill at the end of your stay.


All-Inclusive Value For Money.


All of us understand how expensive alcohol can be, especially at hotels and you will find that the all-inclusive packages really are great value for money.

To really understand the benefit of choosing the all-inclusive meal plan over something like a Full Board or Half board package, take into consideration the fact that you would be able to stay at a resort for 7 nights and you will not have to spend a single cent extra on drinks and food. After paying for your holiday package you would then only have to bring along cash for an excursion or two or for buying presents for the family.

The last thing to take into consideration when choosing your meal plan would be the practicality of it all. There isn’t something like a woollies food or a 7/11 around the corner from the resorts or in fact anywhere nears the resorts. When booking anything less than all inclusive you would have to buy your extra meals and drinks at the hotel that you are staying at. This will normally happen in USD. Hands down you will be spending more when traveling like this and it will cause you much less of a relaxed experience as you will have to budget for the entire week,


The Difference in price between a Half Board Package and All Inclusive often seems a bit steep at face value, depending on which resort you choose the difference in price can be between R3000 and R6000   per person more for a seven-day package.  This amounts to about R142 per meal extra. Taking into consideration the pros and cons, the pros of an all-inclusive package far outweigh the cons.