The first time I stayed in a resort was during my honeymoon in 2010, when we stayed at the Vivanta in Bentota (Sri Lanka). The travel agent (yes, we still paid them good margins on those days) had convinced us to stay two nights there. Friends had told it is “romantic”. Our room got upgraded to a suite.
And then we got bored. Our boredom occurred on several fronts. Firstly, there was nothing much to do there. Both of us being good south indian middle class kids, our idea of a “holiday” had then been the package tour with a tightly packed schedule. Suddenly, two days at a single hotel was incredibly boring.
Then, we got bored of the food. Back then I was vegetarian, which meant we could realistically only go to one of the three or four restaurants in the resort. By the time we finished a day there, we were completely bored of the food.
Then there was nothing much to do. The swimming pool was crowded, having been monopolised by a large and noisy tour group. The beach was okay, nothing compared to that at Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s east coast (which we visited in 2014; oh, and by the way, my wife has started a new newsletter with her travel experiences. The first episode is called “paid sex in Sri Lanka”).
Over the years, we have kept going back to resorts, and seldom enjoyed them.
I mean, spending one night at a resort, like we did during our recent travel to Tamil Nadu, is good. You are in the vicinity for something else, and it gives you a nice place to relax and recharge, and before you get bored of the place, you are out of there.
Any longer than that at a resort, unless there is something compelling to do, is a disaster. You get bored. The food starts becoming monotonous. You start doing things just to fill your day – and that thing is usually NOT reading the book you took on vacation. You might drink excessively. And so on.
Then there is the size of the resort. If it is too small, it can easily get monopolised by one large (ish) group, making it unpleasant for everyone else there (this has happened countless times now). If it is too large, it can get a bit impersonal (though one time we stayed at a really large resort, in Maldives, we loved it).
The other issue with resorts is that you are forced to follow their schedules. As a family, for example, we have our dinners around 6pm, which is normal for some parts of the world but rather early for India. Most resorts force us to wait till 8pm (or even 9pm) for our dinner, thus upsetting our schedules and sleep.
Another annoying thing I find about resorts is their desire to “add value”. From a resort’s point of view, they want guests to stay for longer, and that means offering them more things to do (unless there is something “natural to do”, such as a good beach, near the resort). And so the resorts pack themselves with all kinds of “activities”.
On Saturday, for example, at a resort near Kumbakonam, they had arranged for a classical dance performance. The number of times they reminded us about that was not funny. And some of the other “things to do” sounded like things you would write in a Social Studies exam to make your answer longer – “feed the fish in this pond”, “light a lamp, make a wish and float it in that pond”, and so on.
All this said, I was happy to be in that resort for that night (apart from the late dinner, which affected my sleep). Some people are of the opinion that on some kinds of holidays, the quality of the hotel doesn’t matter since “you only need a place to sleep”. As far as I’m concerned, though, I don’t mind paying the premium for a nice place so that the sleep is (sort of) guaranteed, and we are able to properly relax.
I thought I was done with this post, and then realised I’ve written about resorts once before.