For the last few years, my husband and I have taken off on a tropical getaway in the fall with two friends of ours. Each time we’ve gone to St. Martin, partly (25%) because we love it, and partly (75%) because we’re too lazy to look for something else. There’s a whole, amazing world out there to explore, but it’s overwhelming to try to pick just one destination, so back to SXM we always go. Except for this year. Our friends can’t go in November when we have the time off, so we’re taking this as an opportunity to try something new. Something non-SXM.
My husband really wants to visit an all-inclusive resort, but as I explained to Amanda and Dwayne at a very official blog lunch we had earlier this week, all-inclusive resorts are like weeklong stays at a Hibachi restaurant and that sounds like pure hell to me. Let me explain. I hate Hibachi restaurants with the fiery, burning passion of the onion slice volcano that the cowboy hat-clad Japanese Hibachi chef prepares three hundred times a day for the awe of the easily-pleased American customers. HATE. Hibachi restaurants, to me, are what the Japanese restauranteurs think that Americans want to believe Japanese people (and cuisine) are. So when the chef aims a squeeze-bottle of Saki into the open mouths of the on-lookers and shouts “more Saki, more happy!” I’m not sure if we’re laughing at him or he’s laughing at us. Also, I’m not a seal, I don’t need to have food thrown into my mouth.
Sooo… you’re uncomfortably wondering, what does this have to do with all-inclusive resorts?
Why would I board a plane and fly to Jamaica or Cancun or St. Lucia to wall myself into a completely controlled and sanitized look at Jamaican, or Mexican, or St. Lucian culture? Why not just go to Arizona and sit in the sun? I don’t want to feel trapped on the (albeit gorgeous, I’m sure) grounds of the resort being fed Americanized Mexican food. I don’t want two-for-one get-the-tourists-drunk happy hour. I don’t want to be another blank, white face making my way through the factory of the vacation resort. That’s a little heavy, I know, but the idea of all-inclusive resorts just sort of make my skin crawl.
But then I saw the perfect compromise in the form of a Groupon (which I missed out on buying) for Drake Academy. An all-inclusve (sort of) catamaran cruise through the British Virgin Islands with the added bonus of the opportunity to learn how to sail while we cruise through Paradise. PERFECT. So perfect that it makes my heart race. I wrote to the company via their website contact form but the message wouldn’t send. Humph. I copied their email address and sent an email directly. “HI!” (I shouted in all-caps, “I LOVE YOU PLEASE BE MY FRIEND!” Actually, I just asked if they had any space in an early-November cruise and I asked about rates. And then I waited. And I drummed my fingers. And I refreshed my email. FOR THREE NAIL-BITING DAYS. I couldn’t take it anymore. I sent another email.
To: Drake Academy
I emailed on Sunday of this week inquiring about pricing and availability for a BVI sailing adventure in early November 2013 for 2-3 guests. I’m concerned that you didn’t get my message, but please forgive me if this is a duplicate and I’m just being impatient waiting for a reply. I very much look forward to hearing from you.
And then I waited some more. AND THEN! The following day, I received this message.
From: Drake Academy
Thank you so much for following up; your first email went into our over-zealous spam filter. We have availability for the dates you mentioned and would love to look after you and your guests. Please browse our latest brochure; although it really can’t do the islands justice. On top of that, we offer a special service to those looking to learn to sail, or sit back and relax.
I will try and call you later today to have a good chat.
Thank you for reaching out of Drake Holidays,
WOO-HOO! They have space. But I still don’t know how much the trip costs. The pricing on their site is for spring 2013. I can assume that the fall pricing is similar, but I’d still like to know for sure. I clutched my phone all day in anticipation but Drake Academy never called. Sadface. The following day I emailed again.
To: Drake Academy
Hi again, thank you for your reply. Those darn spam filters! I’m thrilled to learn that you have room for us. I would love to know what the rates would be for 2-3 guests. I’ve begun researching flights to Antigua and if we can swing your rates, we’ll be more than happy to book. I’ve just been on Google looking up photos of the BVI and I’d like to be there right this minute. It looks amazing.
Thank you for your time.
And then… nothing. For days! Hotwire sent me a message that the rates had dropped on the flight to Antigua. Now would be a good time to book. Le sigh. I waited four long days and sent another email.
To: Drake Academy
Just checking in again. I’m so excited at the prospect of booking an adventure with you that I simply can’t force myself to be patient! I’m sorry to be a pest, but if you could let me know what the rates would be, that would greatly help my decision-making and then I can either start packing for the BVI, or start looking for another (less awesome) vacation destination.
CALL ME SO I CAN BOOK MY VACATION AAAHHHHH!!! I’m not good at waiting, but honestly I’m feeling panicked. We usually have our vacation plans set by mid-July. It’s now mid-August and I feel like there’s no time left. I NEED TO KNOW IF I CAN AFFORD YOU!!! I wasn’t really expecting to hear back from Drake when suddenly! (*cue angel harp*) An email arrived. And this is where it gets good.
From: Drake Academy
You’re a really invigorating person! The November trip is one of mine and I am currently sailing from Germany to Sweden via Denmark. That means I can’t give your request the attention it deserves and hope you can bear with me. We create the absolute perfect balance of fun, adventure and discovery. It would be a great bonus to have you along.
Maybe I could call you and we can can get excited about the BVI together. Hope to talk soon.
AAHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAAA! INVIGORATING! Oh my.
Every time I read “Wow Lisa,” I crack up.
This poor man is SAILING A BOAT from Germany to Sweden via Denmark and I won’t leave him the hell alone. He’s hauling lines and raising sails and doing other important boaty things and I’m jumping up and down with my hand in the air shouting “call me! call me! call me! call me!” I wrote back to thank him for answering my message WHILE SAILING and told him that I can wait until he gets to dry land before we talk. I also thanked him for calling me “invigorating” rather than a giant pain in the ass. I think I might steal that from him.
He’s either going to charge me double to make sure I don’t set foot on his boat, or give me a great deal because he admires my pluck.
It’s been three days now, and although I promised to be patient, I’m not. I’M INVIGORATING. I need to know where we will be vacationing. I need to know if I have to start looking at (gag) all-inclusives. I NEED CLOSURE. So I sit on my hands and try not to break my phone by refreshing my mail every three seconds. I’m trying to think like I’m on island time. Or Germany/Denmark/Sweden time. (*deep, cleansing breath*)
So to distract me in the meantime, tell me. Have you ever been to an all-inclusive resort? Was it as terrible as I imagine, or am I the terrible one?