When choosing a family-friendly holiday, all-inclusive packages are tempting. The everyday juggling of work, parenting and home-life can easily exhaust us, both mentally and physically, craving the type of holiday where we can stop having control and have everything done for us. A holiday with no meals to prepare and entertainment at one’s fingertips everyday seems like the magical remedy to the lunatic pace of modern family life … No wonder that all-inclusive holidays often top the wish list for families.
But is all-inclusive really the luxury option? Having tried a few all-inclusive trips and a range of self-catering options when I was still living in Germany, I definitely leaned towards self – careering apartments, cottages and villas, even before the birth of my son.
Before further reading, try to compare the first image of this post with the 2nd image just below. Which location would you prefer 🙂 ?
Benefits of self-catering
There’s something wonderfully escapist about living in a different property for a week or two. You can all pretend you have a different life, to be unique – that you’ve stepped into the shoes of a villa-dwelling, free-spirited family living in the hills of Kayakoy; or you’re a welly boot-wearing, Good Life-loving family, living on a farm, collecting milk fresh from the doorstep. This experience fills families with a sense of adventure they don’t find elsewhere.
Privacy is a major advantage of self-catering. Family time is precious, and while the adventure of meeting new families on the all-inclusive experience is pleasant, sometimes, especially during our limited holiday time, we don’t want to spend so much time in the company of several hundred other holidaymakers.
A holiday villa or cottage provides you with the luxury of your own private space, but even if it’s part of a busy resort, you can always head back to peaceful turf for some quiet meals and downtime. Now imagine your rented property with a private swimming pool!
From a practical viewpoint, self-catering with children offers huge flexibility. If your kids are in a fussy eating phase then as convenient as all-inclusive might seem, in reality you may spend most holiday mealtimes coaxing your kids to try unfamiliar hotel food.
It can be fun (indulgent) to eat (and eat) at the hotel buffet – but all-inclusive typically means you’re at the mercy of set mealtimes; if you fancy exploring off-site, meal times can restrict your activities; you don’t want to miss out of what you’ve already paid for.
When you’re looking to completely immerse yourself in the resort experience of somewhere like one of the big theme parks, the dining (often themed) forms a key part of that experience, and it’s enjoyable to be taken along.
If you’re hoping or planning to stick to healthy eating habits (and avoid a chips-with-every-meal menu), self- catering makes this much easier to achieve, especially in Turkey where people get spoilt by the amount of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables you can get on the market.
Self-catering can restrict you to your accommodation in the evening when the children need to go to bed; there is an easy solution for that:
make the kids swim all day; they will be so exhausted that they will tucked up in bed by early evening, leaving you free to cook at leisure and spend your evenings together as a couple in beautiful, romantic surroundings – not such a shabby option, and more flexible than being stuck all together in a hotel room.
When you do your own cooking, you lose the financial safety net of an all-inclusive holiday. A good way to keep food costs down is to make a shopping list in advance and research a supermarket en-route to your accommodation.
If you’re coming to Eden Villas Kayakoy, you could do some basic shopping in one of the major super-markets in Fethiye or Hisaronu as you will pass these towns before reaching Kayakoy.
It’s also worth to keep in mind that all-inclusive is not always truly ALL-inclusive. It’s not unusual to come up against extra costs from snacks and non-local drinks that aren’t included your package, not to mention the temptation to try out local restaurants rather than dine in the included canteen every night.
Whether you discover a restaurant in a beautiful spot during an afternoon stroll, or you want to buy a poolside lunch, or the kids are desperate to eat where their new-found friends are going, with self-catering it’s still hard to resist the lure of a restaurant. But you can budget for it in advance. Generally, we factor one meal out per day into our budget – maybe just a coffee and cake one day, lunch the next, dinner the next and it still works out cheaper than all-inclusive.
Give yourself a break and keep things simple; it’s your holiday too, after all. Family-friendly holiday food, such as a big bowl of pasta with crusty bread for everyone to dig into, will keep mealtimes relaxed and focused on the family rather than on the effort of cooking.
It’s lovely to let the local cuisine influence your cooking too; do a bit of research into the area before you go and maybe plan a trip to explore the local markets. In Fethiye for example you have the Tuesday Market, the fish market and Friday market.
If all this talk of total autonomy on holiday feels like too much, there are ways to ease yourself into self-catering gently: choosing a villa located within a resort combines the privacy and flexibility of having your own accommodation, with easy access to amenities and entertainment
Obviously we all want something slightly different from a holiday, and every family is different too. Self-catering gives you the ability to do cater for your family’s wants and needs, at your own pace, as opposed to fitting in with the one-size-fits-all experience that is all-inclusive.
One major benefit you have at Eden – Villas is the presence of the owners living nearby, always ready to help in case when necessary.
When you’re planning your next family holiday, please don’t automatically rule out self-catering as the ‘hard work’ or stressful option. It is really not. It will be an experience you will always want to remember.