Friday, 30 December 2016

Going Back

Going Back?
Now this is a tricky question. So you have been on holiday and you loved it! But would you still love it quite so much if you went back again? Maybe yes, and, quite often, no.

The British, as a nation are quite expert at ‘going back’. We find a place we enjoy and almost inevitably assume it will be just as good if we return. There is a certain reassurance that you know what to expect and clearly a benefit in being able to find your way around. You know the things to avoid and already have in mind your favourite beach/bar/restaurant/resort. What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately what we inevitably fail to identify is that familiarity can sometime breed ‘contempt’…or at least boredom.

Feeling nostalgic (and bored) between Christmas and New Year I looked back over the years to identify again where I had been and, where I had visited more than once. Because of my career in the airline and travel business I found I had travelled to 79% of the countries in the world, many frequently, but I ignored most of those and focussed instead on frequent holiday visits. I came up with a much smaller varied group of destinations dotted around the globe and wondered why I kept on going back and would I go again? My feedback to you is blunt and may cause disagreement but please bear with me as I start at the ‘worst’ and get better as I go along!

These holiday revisits were as follows: Mauritius, Maldives, Dubai, Barbados, Bequia (in the Grenadines), Anguilla, Antigua Athens, New York, Majorca and Kefalonia. Some verdicts were easy. For example I would never want to go back to Mauritius. Why? Because I found the island touristically over resourced and crowded, the people unfriendly with an undercurrent of resentfulness, and a feeling the whole place had been exploited

I also very much doubt if I would go to the Maldives again which really surprised me. I defy anyone to name anywhere as scenically beautiful as most Maldivian islands. I would also commend the staff in these resorts who work ceaselessly to give you a good experience. The problem I have is price and again, exploitation. It seems that the resorts squeeze every last pound/euro/yen/dollar they can from the tourists. Everything is charged at a large premium which results in most visitors being either extremely rich, extravagant or on honeymoon.

 I thought Dubai was over the top but although the Maldives is not so ‘naff’ it grossly overcharges. You cannot take alcohol into the Maldives being a Moslem country yet they allow you to directly connect with a seaplane taking you to a resort with a full drink service. You will pay $50/$60 for a bottle of New Zealand wine which cost $10 in a UK supermarket.

In the Maldives you get the sheer beauty of the place but you are not getting good value and you are stuck on a small island with a diverse and sometimes not so pleasant mixture of guests. And the staff? Most of the workers are Maldivian, Sri Lankan or Indian and they live in tiny compounds in the middle of the resort being paid a pittance in comparison with the resort tariff. So many tourist go there for a one off ‘holiday of a lifetime’, brief honeymoon or as part of a two centre holiday with Dubai or somewhere similar.
The last on my ‘never again’ list is Dubai. What on earth have they done with the place. So much ‘in your face’ wealth and so little genuine sophistication. It is not as though the locals like you. I am convinced they don’t. Again you have the wealthy land/oil owners, a workforce from the Asian subcontinent and imported management to run their businesses. I never fully understood or used the expression O.T.T. (over the top) until I went there. The beaches are not very nice either!

Phew! That got that off my chest. That is my not again list. Mind you. In condemning these places I would probably swallow my bile and go back to the Maldives….if I could afford it!

I would not particularly want to go back to New York either. In saying that I have no particular gripes with the place, it is more that I hate shopping and that seems to be what most people do! I do however love the surrounding area and New York City is as good a base as anywhere else.

Heading south from New York you eventually come to the Caribbean and it is here I have had quite a few repeat visits, most of them very successful. For example Barbados is interesting as it is two islands in one. What I mean is you have the South Coast and the West Coast and they are both very different to each other. There are always exceptions but the south is where the action is. There are more activities, lower cost hotels and it is adjacent to Bridgetown where the cruise ships go. It is the ‘party’ and ‘drink cruise’ area. I had a great time there but I needed a holiday after this holiday!

The West Coast is supposedly more ‘sophisticated’ with high end hotels, restaurants and an obscenely expensive golf course. It is the home of the Sandy Lane Hotel which rivals Dubai for ‘naffness’ and silly prices. It is a great place to go if you like calm beaches and diverse but good service hotels. You need a bigger wallet than the South but you do get good value. We stayed 12 hours at the Sandy Lane (that was enough) before moving to the Colony Club as well as the Sandpiper and Fairmont on other stays. If you are nice to the Bajan people they are nice to you unlike the Mauritians and I will go again as each experience is different to the last.

Still hanging in there with me? I hope so. Now I will give you a rest before, in another day soon I will tell you about my love for The Grenadines in general and Bequia in particular. Visit a gain soon!