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apr 08 2011

The ideal vacation: Indulge or detox?

El Dorado Maroma, Mexico (Courtesy Michelle Baran)

They are two very opposite notions of what a vacation should be — totally indulging in all your desires with the all-you-can-eat options and services of all-inclusives and cruises, or totally depriving yourself of them with cleansing detox retreats, complete with calorie-conscious meals and yoga classes.

And yet both vacation trends are thriving, despite one another.

On the one end, you have the continuously increasing number of all-inclusive resorts and cruise ships, which continue to reinvent themselves, capturing more and more market share on the premise that once you're on the property or ship, there are no worries, and no restraint.

The concept is growing in part because it is also expanding its reach. Take all-inclusive resorts, for example, an idea introduced by Club Med 60 years ago. But what once had the reputation of being reserved for families on a budget or the party-in-the-pool crowd, has evolved into a much more sophisticated product offering.

Now, there are high-end and luxury all-inclusive resorts, where the mile-long buffet has been replaced by chef's table specialty restaurants serving molecular cuisine.

El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels in Mexico, for instance, is an example of a property that embraces the concept of the "gourmet inclusive," which encompasses fine dining cuisine, swim-up suites and butler service.

The non-stop building momentum in the cruise industry, with more and bigger ships being launched each year, further proves that the all-inclusive vacation experience on mega ships such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, remains an attractive, happy-go-lucky vacation option for many travelers.

And while for some, this is seen as the true definition of paradise, there are others who go on a vacation to experience just the opposite, to be deprived of the things that tempt them at home.

For them, there is a booming industry of yoga retreats and healthy living getaways at properties such as the Blue Pearl Laguna, a yoga, hiking, and cleansing retreat, in Laguna Beach, Calif., where the proprietors prepare nutritious meals and host yoga classes and hiking excursions.

Or a company like Escape to Shape, which hosts exotic trips that combine luxury accommodations with fitness and healthy cuisine.

I can just see the two factions trying to understand one another. The indulger: "So, you're paying to starve and sweat?" The detoxer: "So, you're paying to be stuffed and pampered?" Perhaps, the two types of vacationers will never see eye to eye, or perhaps there is some room for crossover. It all comes down to how you define your vacation time.

What about you? Do you see vacation as a time to indulge or detox? Let us know by voting in our poll or commenting below.

More from Budget Travel:

Ask Trip Coach: All-inclusive resorts

Are health-conscious cruises all the rage?

The nation's top resorts and spas on sale during Wellness Week

Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com


Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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