Our Journey to Redefining Travel: All-Inclusive Resorts & Authentic Local Experiences

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We’re back with Season 2 of No Tourist Allowed! This episode takes us on a deep dive into the expanding world of all-inclusive resorts. We recount our personal travel experiences in culturally rich destinations like Tulum, exploring the enticing predictability of these resorts where vacation pre-budgeting becomes an attractive reality. 

As we bask in the luxury of these resorts, we also remind ourselves and our listeners of the importance of engaging meaningfully with local cultures. Drawing from Jeremiah Moss’s powerful book, “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul,” we advocate for a shift from touristy behaviors towards embracing travel that honors and values authentic local experiences.

Excited yet? Join us as we talk about these issues, and get a sneak peek of future guests from the world of travel, including the editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly and pioneers in space tourism. So, hit play and let’s embark on this enlightening journey together, shaping ourselves into better-informed and more respectful travelers.


Mike Putman: Hello everyone. I’m Mike Putman

James Ferrara: And I’m James Ferara.

Mike Putman: And welcome back for season two of No Tourist Allowed. We took a little, uh, respite that was only supposed to be a very short respite, which turned into long respite. But we are back for season two and an excited to be here.

James Ferrara: Well, Mike you can blame me to some extent because as you can probably hear, I have had some oral surgery, so I’m slurring my words a little bit, which is not good for a podcaster. Actually my oral surgery went on for a couple of months, which will… would’ve made a great podcast in and of itself.

Mike Putman: Yeah, I had a little bit of a medical issue myself. I had a kidney removed and, uh, I was, uh, in an extended hospitalization period. But, uh, glad to be back, uh, a little bit lighter. But, uh, glad, certainly glad to be back at at it.

James Ferrara: So, you, so you can certainly say that we had a good justification for our little hiatus, but, but so excited to be back for season two. I feel a little bit like a Netflix program and, we’ve got an incredible lineup coming, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. And I think probably we wanna take a moment and remind our listeners, sort of reacquaint them with the, the ethos behind this podcast.


Mike Putman: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so we’re all about no tourist allowed, and that might sound really strange coming from a, a couple of guys who have built their careers on, uh, sending people to places or having other people send people to places. But there is a, a nuance between being a quote unquote tourist and being a responsible traveler.

And that’s what this podcast is about. Tourist has this connotation of, uh, you know, the, the Hawaiian shirts, the white tube socks, the, uh, it used to be the camera around the neck, but everybody uses their phone now. Uh, but spending their time in, in gift shops and, and things of that nature, tourist traps.

Whereas there’s another side of traveling, which is a lot more interesting to most people and is a lot more fulfilling, better for the environment, better for cultures that we go and visit. And that’s being a seasoned traveler. So that’s, that’s what we’re about.

James Ferrara: Absolutely, Mike. And you know, I’ve been reading a, a book just for fun the last couple of weeks, and I came across some passages in it that really speak to this idea that you and I share. And if it’s okay, I’d love to just read a few sentences to everyone.

Mike Putman: But you said passages. Are you gonna read from the Bible? That’s the only book I’ve ever heard passages used.

James Ferrara: Well, it, it is kind of my Bible, I would say. This is from a book called “Vanishing New York: how a Great City Lost Its Soul.” And it, uh, the author is Jeremiah Moss, who is a very famous blogger in the New York area for people who follow New York. He’s been writing about this idea of, of the real New York kind of flipping away for, for many years, but, In the book there’s a part that I really love.

It says, “remember there’s a big difference between tourists and travelers. As Paul Bowles put it in the sheltering sky, an important difference between tourists and traveler is that the former, the tourist, accepts his own civilization without question. Not so the traveler who compares his civilization with the others that he’s visiting and rejects those elements in his own that he finds not to his liking.”

and to put it in some context Jeremiah Moss writes that in Applebee’s now there’s a times Square. There’s a seven 11 in the East Village, a Patagonia on the Bowery. So these are big chain stores in sort of very special places in New York, and this is where the tourists flock. To these stores.

Why would anyone come to New York to shop and eat in the same places they can find at their local mall back home? Travelers on the other hand, are attracted to the true city. They seek out the local and the idiosyncratic, they comport themselves as guests should. they don’t want to be taken for tourists who live their days as though the city belong to them hanging out like bad guests who help themselves to the refrigerator and put their feet up on the coffee table. I really, really like that description, right? If you’re a tourist, you think it’s all about your own culture and home. If you’re a traveler, you’re looking for those things that you haven’t experienced before and you’re not going to the same places that you have in ho at home or living the same life that you have at home, but you are seeking out, as he said, the idiosyncratic and the local. Isn’t that what we talk about all the time on here, Mike?

Mike Putman: Yes. And it, and it makes a, a very big difference, not only in your experience as a traveler, but also to those people that you interact, with, which might be locals there in, in the destination. You know, and, and, and I find it really troubling sometimes when I see people in popular destinations treat the, the, the service industry folks in particular, with a lower degree of respect than they might at home. And, and just because someone may be in a less advantageous, uh, job or, or in a place where the, the level of income is much lower, um, we still gotta remember those people are people and, uh, and it’s very important to treat them with respect.

James Ferrara: Absolutely, and a, and a little tip I’ll give everyone on the side is when you’re visiting another country, if the language is not English, it’s different from your language, then make an attempt to speak something in the language. It is a sign of respect. Remember to visit someone else’s country and expect them to speak your language is actually the mistake, right?

So even if it’s just hello or good morning, the few words that you put a little effort in to learn, and even if you speak them poorly, you will be appreciated and you will notice a difference in the way people receive you and treat you there too. I’ve, I’ve learned that over the years.

Mike Putman: Absolutely. It makes a big impact. Well, I’ve been traveling a little bit, um, during this break. Not a lot. And I know James, you have as well, where are some of the places that you’ve been?

James Ferrara: Uh, well, let’s see. I have been to, uh, the UK of course, where we have a big business. So, I’ve been to London. We went to Belfast together, Mike and Northern Ireland, I think towards the end of last season on the podcast. And I have been in search of some warm weather over the winter. So I actually had an incredible trip down to Tulum, which is a wildly popular, uh, resort area in the last couple of years in the Yucatan Peninsula, south of some of the places you may have heard of before, like Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Tulum became famous for its healing, sort of new age community. So, massages and yoga and, and all of that but has really grown beyond that now. And, uh, it’s a major archeological area for the Mayan and other cultures in that part of Mexico. So there are incredibly beautiful ruins, very complex ruins there, uh, but also incredible beaches and just absolutely beautiful unspoiled area of, uh, Mexico and now some outrageous resorts.

Mike Putman: Yeah. And if you, if you’re not familiar with Tulum, just simply log on to Instagram. And it seems like every, uh, popular, attractive influencer has been, um, has been to Tulum. Uh, it is a popular place, and, you know, rightly so, uh, it, it’s very picturesque and it makes for great photos. But, um, some of the prettiest beaches I’ve been to anywhere in the world are, are there in Tulum.

James Ferrara: Yeah. And, and the, the town of Talum itself sort of just tumbles out onto the beach and everyone’s walking everywhere. And, uh, picturesque is a good word, Mike. Also it is now home to this spreading phenomenon of all inclusive resorts. And that’s something Mike and I have been talking about. Through the pandemic, there were only a few places where Americans could travel without a lot of friction.

Right. And they were the Caribbean, Jamaica specifically, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. And what do you find when you travel to those places but a preponderance of all inclusive resorts? So a lot of people I think during the pandemic got their first taste of the modern all-inclusive vacation idea.

You know, back in the day, people do remember club Med and some of the earlier iterations, but all inclusive vacations have changed quite a bit. And there’s specialty dining, multiple restaurants, all kinds of activities, circus schools and, and you know, all kinds of things. So, you know, you’ve got snorkeling and you’ve got buffets, but you’ve got all this other stuff now too.

And the hotels themselves, properties have become very, very elaborate, including a, a whole new sort of luxury end of all inclusive resorts. The old style was to think of all inclusive resorts and a little more rustic, you know, but now you’ve got top level brand who’ve created all inclusive resort. So I was at the brand new Hilton Tulum, and also on that property is their luxury Conrad Tulum. And Hilton, Marriott, IHG, all these brands that we know and we’re so comfortable with and have sub-brand in, in all categories of pricing, including luxury. They have all announced a big forays into the all-inclusive market. Hilton, I think, is building several dozen all-inclusive resorts over the next couple of years.

So it’s big.

Mike Putman: Yeah, it is, it’s big. And I mean this is, uh, um, although that, that market has, or, or that product has been in the Caribbean for a while in limited amounts, it is really flourishing. And this is a spillover, I believe, from the Spanish market where Club Med and, and actually there’s a, a tremendous number of Spanish brands that we may not be aware of here in the US.

James Ferrara: Yeah. Barcelo, right? Rio?

Mike Putman: yes. There, there’s tons of them as well as there’s several Mexican owned chains as well. So some of the, or operated, I should say. So Hard Rock palace Resorts, those are all chains that are operated by, by, um, Mexicans and and, and, and those executives from there. And, and they’re great, great properties.

But I think this is really comes about as people found this way of vacationing really relaxing. Right. And, and while I love a cruise, and, and I’ll always be a proponent of, of cruising, with the, uh, land-based all-inclusive programs, they also include generally a little bit wider variety of opportunities or things that are included such as your drinks.

I mean, your drinks are, um, at all locations are included at, at all the different bars. Or while you’re having dinner. Now there are some premium opportunities to, you know, upgrade your wine or upgrade to some other type of, um, liquor. But generally it’s all inclusive. Sometimes people just, you know, they wanna pre-plan, pre-budget their vacation and say, this is how much money I’ve got to spend.

And this is it. And, and we want everything to be included. And, and it is, and it’s a, it’s a great experience. I was just last month I was at the, uh, new Royalton Splash, which by the way, has a Tulum address. I wouldn’t call it Tulum but, uh, it actually, the address is Tulum. But it’s a beautiful property.

It is a Marriott signature property. Fantastic. I don’t know, probably half a mile of private beach. Seven, eight different themed restaurants. Really good entertainment every night. Lots and lots of things to do. So it, it is clearly a way the market is moving, the investment when you say the developers that are, are building in a certain mode of accommodation, you know, that’s kind of the way the future’s going.

And, and, you know, hands down in the Caribbean, all inclusive is, is the hottest thing going.

James Ferrara: Yeah. And it, it, it makes sense. I mean it from a budgeting point of view, from a sense of value, you know, to have all of these things included, to not have to worry about carrying your wallet around to not have to worry. And this is a common complaint about some cruising, that when the trip is over, you’re going to be presented with a big bill, right?

That in addition to what you thought you committed to. And and so there, there’s that, there’s a sense of security, too, which is very important to people. Right now a little bit of unrest in the world. And so, uh, you feel like you’re on property, you’re very protected. And there are a number of things that sort of roll up into this.

And, and consequently, in the last two years at IntelTravle, we’ve seen our all inclusive business triple. 300% increase in that business. So it really is a trend at the moment. And, uh, I highly recommend, and I know Mike does too, that you, you check it out.

Mike Putman: Now the only thing is if you do that, you can’t be one of those folks that just stay inside the resort and never venture out. That’s the only downside. Because we don’t want you being like a tourist. We want you to be a traveler. Get out, even though you’ve paid for every single meal or every morsel foods you could eat, every drink you could drink.

If you go to a, a destination and you don’t leave the property, you’re not doing the destination because you’re missing out on a lot of historical, cultural things that you’re not going to find necessarily within, within the resort.

James Ferrara: I’ll give you a good example, Mike. One night, even though everything was included, of course, at the Hilton. One night, we went out into Tulum, uh, the little village along the ocean, and it’s full of nightclubs and restaurants and stuff as it has grown, you know, and become so popular. And there was an Argentinian steakhouse under a thatched roof, a very big place, big operation. And in the back of it, in an open courtyard, they had the open fire pit where they cook everything, the steaks, the vegetables, the desserts, everything are made. And it was such a huge fire, it was like they opened the gates of hell and, and we were looking into it like it was amazing.

And they had all these guys working back there with these big long poles and stuff to get close enough to the fire to cook the food. And it, it was such a great atmosphere and the food was great. And then you finish dinner and you’re walking along the sort of dirt road that goes down the middle of Tulum.

And I, I would’ve missed that. Food was great at the resort, but we would’ve… we would’ve missed that or the day that we went to the Mayan ruins, you know, it’s incredible ruins. I agree with you a hundred percent. Like take the best of both worlds, what’s available to you there on the resort, but then get out and get your sense of place.

Know that you’ve visited Tulum, not some cookie cutter resort in anywhere.

Mike Putman: Well, James, we have a really packed schedule, uh, for this season. And, uh, and, and, and thanks to you for getting a lot of guests lined up, but we’ve got some incredible guests that I know our listeners are gonna love hearing from. Um, why don’t you just share out a, just a, a few of those, uh, companies that will be, be joining us.

James Ferrara: Sure. And, and one that I’m really excited about may not be known to most people. But as the editor of the editor-in-Chief of Travel Weekly, Arnie Weisman, and Arne is a, a 40 year veteran of the travel industry, but he’s also, I think, the most thoughtful writer about the travel industry.

He’s a very philosophical and almost poetic guy, and his insights into travelers and the world of travel today I think will be really fascinating to our listeners. I’m really looking forward to having Arnie with us and we’re bringing in, oh, this’ll be great. We’re bringing in senior executives from some very interesting companies, presidents and companies.

And one of them is one of the new companies offering space travel to tourists like low orbit outer space.

Mike Putman: And you’ve signed up for that yourself, I believe.

James Ferrara: Well, what we’ve actually done is we’ve reserved a ship, a whole ship, which is about eight passengers. And it’s, it’s not for a couple of years that it actually takes off, but we, because we didn’t want to get locked out, we reserved a whole ship. So, we also have G Adventures, you know, the Great Adventure travel company, and, and that is another area where we’ve seen tremendous growth, tremendous growth. So popular and kind of, uh, jives with our thinking here, Mike, because it’s focused on small groups only and, going to places in the world that are still untouched, unspoiled, uh, maybe even a little challenging. So really like that for us. We’ve got some major cruise lines coming in.

We’ve, we’ve got quite a slate and so, please go and visit the website as we announce these dates and, or I even better yet download our podcast, uh, tie it into your platform, whatever you use, Spotify or iTunes or whatever. And, uh, get it automatically every week so you don’t miss one.

Mike Putman: Yeah, we’ve had great downloads even while we’ve been gone. So thanks to, um, all of our patient listeners and loyal followers who’ve been with us. We really do appreciate your support. Well, I think that’s gonna wrap it up for us today, James. It’s a short, brief, uh, intro back to, uh, season two. But, uh, thanks for all of our listeners for, uh, following us and participating, and, uh, we look forward to speaking with you next week.

James Ferrara: Thank you, everybody.

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