I had my doubts when I signed up for my first “all-inclusive” southern soirée. I was heading down to Chilean Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park and booked the trip from seeing mind-blowing Instagram picture after mind-blowing Instagram picture. Whoever said social media doesn’t drive bookings is a liar. I had my doubts about the overall experience. Surely the service would be lacking due to the fact that I paid upfront, that everything was included. Why would the staff go the extra mile to impress? I’m embarrassed to say how wrong I was.
Certain destinations throughout South America seek disconnection from every day routine. For this to happen, it’s necessary to leave the bills and price lists behind. Okay, I liked where they were going with this. Of course, that meant a large, lump sum paid in full before the trip even began (travel insurance, anyone?), but I knew I must trust the system. Here, all-inclusive covered accommodations, transportation, meals and bar, excursions and exploration, national park entrance fees, wi-fi and the spa. No check after dinner was consumed, no wallet to grab for said check, no payment for after-dinner drinks at the bar, not even a final bill to pay at check-out. Read: Vacation bliss. Fretting over who pays what? Save the Venmo app for another day. The only thing I needed to worry about was trying to stay alive while climbing this:
Okay, okay. I didn’t exactly climb that, but I hiked around it which was a feat in itself. The excursions were tailor-made and the guides were so enthusiastic that I wondered if I could have some of what they were having. We were ready to go before the sun and these leaders couldn’t be more excited to do a hike that they’d probably hiked a few times earlier that week. I suppose that goes to show the high caliber of employees these places hire. And can we talk about the food? We were in the middle of nowhere, but the chefs managed to create a magical display of healthy perfection at every meal. Lest you forget…if you wanted a second helping of the popular lamb that’s often served in Patagonia, it’s yours. Explora is the name, unlimited luxury is their game. Fresh ingredients and local cuisine lured in each guest with refined palates, giving name to gourmet-inclusive.
South American service-oriented hoteliers have definitely raised the bar on the all-inclusive resort model, making it damn near impossible to think about stepping foot on Majesty of the Seas ever again. The perks, convenience, service, and wealth of activities make these vacays a no-brainer. They also promote local pride, encouraging guests to get out and get a taste of the culture you can’t experience from inside the gates. In the words of Mark Twain:
Explore. Dream. Discover.
Top 3 all-inclusive unlimited luxury hotels in South America:
| Tierra Hotels |
Destinations: Atacama, Chile/Patagonia/Chiloé, Chile
| Explora Lodges |
Destinations: Patagonia/Atacama, Chile/Easter Island
| The Singular Hotels |
Destinations: Patagonia/Santiago, Chile
*I’ll be visiting October 2014. Stay tuned!*
It’s important to remember to tip the staff, even at all-inclusive resorts. They are there to serve, so serve them back!