Well not entirely of course but they are few and far between.

Costa Rica over the years has taken center stage on the eco/green friendly vacation market, but not only have they done this for the benefit of the tourists but also their people. Let me explain a little about the Costa Ricans.

Ticos as they are so affectionately called, are for the most part humble people who make the best of what they have even if it’s minimal. Just last week in fact while exploring around with my son near a local river we saw a young Costa Rican woman washing the family laundry in the river while using the immense boulders as a sort of wash/scrub board. I remember my son asking me why she’s not using a machine so I had to explain to him that some people are less fortunate than others. But I stopped for second after saying that when I took note to the big gleaming smile on the woman’s face. Less fortunate? Who was I to judge her simply because she’s washing clothes in the river. Maybe she’s got all of what she needs in her life and is in fact happier than both of us.

Who knows but it has been my experience over 11 years of living in this country that Costa Ricans don’t like to let anything go to waste whether that’s material items or time…Ticos make the best of it!

So what does this have to do with all-inclusive hotels and resorts you might be asking? Well, I can’t speak from the top of the big brand hotels but I certainly have enough experience to speak my opinion on how the Ticos might view all-inclusives.

In order to fully understand my point I’m going to hope…yes hope, that you’ve either been to or at least know about Cancun.

Cancun is the perfect example of what happens to quaint seaside villages when the big shot all-inclusives come to town. Now one might think that a 300 room mega all-inclusive hotel might be good for the locals by creating jobs and opportunity…you’d be wrong. In fact it is quite the opposite.

What once made the sleepy villages around Cancun so adorable because of their charm, history and “local flare” has since been replaced with menacing towers of concrete and steel housing frugal vacationers interested primarily in the party on the cheap. And I won’t lie to you it’s a thriving capitalistic industry its just not so great for the community.

So back to the Ticos…

Along with these mega hotels and resorts comes a tremendous amount of waste — the backside to the glam and oo’s and ahh’s of the resort itself. Actually I believe that when you have locals, primarily working under internships, witnessing all the foreigners rolling in without a care in the world about much of anything because well….it’s ALL-INCLUSIVE, it might get a bit much for them.

Now remember that the ones granting the permitting necessary for these hotels and resorts are also Ticos and they know what these big chains did to Cancun.

Basically what I’m trying to say is…

Costa Rica is a country of people that pride themselves in being as eco-conscious as possible — even to the point of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 as so declared by the former president Laura Chinchilla — and appreciating what they have in the moment, it’s difficult to wrap their heads around the waste all around them at places like this.

Travelers naturally believe that all-inclusive means cheaper when in fact this isn’t at all true. Costa Rica offers a plethora of hotel and resort options that are not all-inclusive but when comparing apples to apples, offer a lot more for a comparable price. Not to mention you’re not going to be holed up in an A/C room the entire time you’re here.

You will pay less for your stay if you book a 3- or 4-star hotel and eat and drink at local establishments. Trust me, you will still have a great time. The food will be better, the liquor won’t be bottom shelf, the cervezas will be just as cold — you will actually experience a new culture and its people. Most of all, you can proudly know that you helped the local population whose home you’re calling your vacation playground.

If all-inclusive hotels and resorts are your thing then there are “a few of them” to choose from however I would encourage you to look beyond inclusive pricing and explore what Costa Rica really has to offer.

Costa Ricans are the happiest people on Earth you know…get out and mingle and enjoy their country as they do each and every day.