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There's All Inclusive ... and There's All Inclusive

Club Med

Much has been made of fake insurance claims on travel insurance many of which claims emerge from "all inclusive" (AI) holidays, surrounding the catering available.

Let us get one thing clear: There are two types of AI holidays and before a whole industry segment is written off, it is important to distinguish between the various types of AI holiday available.

The bees-knees of all inclusive is, of course, Club Med (or Club Méditerranée, to give them their full name).

Club Med have been around since 1950 and currently have 71 resorts with a sailing ship or two in the mix. Their focus is on doing things. Rooms are places for sleeping in and pretty much little else. They have activities and those activities have plentiful, modern kit with enough qualified instructors to make sure no-one is left hanging around. They provide a quality of entertainment that would not go amiss on a London stage. They have food which is fresh, varied, well prepared and presented, with more than enough to go around. Club Med child and baby care is second to none and they have enough spaces for those that need it, and being French, they even offer you proper coffee. (I have visited about 4 Club Med resorts and at each, had a most memorable and enjoyable time.)

Their resorts are clean and to an impeccable standard, rooms are functional with just the right amount of comfort, given that the idea is that you do not spend a lot of time in them. Club Med have, as they say, been working on the "alchemy of happiness" for some time. Of course, there is no compunction on you to do things all (or even any) of your time; they have pools and quiet areas so you can just lounge about, should you so choose.

Then we have AI as defined by the mass-market operators. Last time I visited a mass market AI resort, catering was repetitive, limited to the travel industry equivalent of "Turkey Twizzlers" and "activities" were at best desultory with little proper kit and no instructors; such kit as there was made available, was clearly not in its first season. The whole concept of the mass-market version of AI was summed up in a (free) ice cream tub I picked up on my way through the bar - the expiry date was about 4 years - YEARS - away. There must have been some real rubbish in that ice cream for it to last that long (even if one accepted that it was frozen - hopefully without any freezer break-downs, of course). Child care?... Well, we'll just leave that one for a while. (Note: I am not including any UK based holiday camp operators in any of this! Butlins, for example, have done an awful lot of work on their resorts and approach, making dramatic improvements on their holidays))

You are, however, not going to be able to get a Club Med holiday cheap. What Club Med do charge, makes excellent value for money, I would go so far as saying that if it meant missing out on one years' holiday to save for a Club Med holiday the next, then such a move would not be misplaced. A one week peak season (in the example I looked at, start of August) Club Med holiday in Kamarina Resort, Italy for 2 adults and 1 child, with Easyjet flights would set you back a little over £5,000 - a similar mass-market holiday I found in Italy with a UK mass market operator came in at a tad under £2,000.

With this price differential comes a quality differential and it is hardly surprising (given my experience of both types of AI) that insurance claims arrive at the bucket-and-spade end of the AI market. This is not to say that false claims do not come about - I am sure they do, but to lump the issue on the whole AI market, without recognising that AI is segmented, is just wrong.

The maxim holds true: You get what you pay for,

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