Anger over Spain’s ‘six drinks a day’ rule for all-inclusive holidays
Spanish officials have sparked outrage by enforcing the ‘six drinks a day’ rule for all-inclusive holidays and at resorts on islands such as Ibiza and Mallorca.
The new law, which affects certain hotels in the Balearic Islands, obliges holidaymakers to pay a supplement if they want more than three free alcoholic drinks per meal.
Jason Walker, 42, who took an all-inclusive trip to Mallorca to celebrate his cousin’s birthday earlier this week, was left “angry” and “upset” by the rules.
He paid £240 for his three-night trip with tour operator Love Holiday, which he assumed had entitled him to as much food and drink as he wanted.
But when the security guard arrived on the beautiful Mediterranean island, he was stunned to find there were limits to his free drinking.
Spanish authorities first announced the new law in January, but it has surprised hundreds of British holidaymakers now arriving on the islands.
Jason urges holidaymakers to visit similar Spanish resorts over the summer to check their fine print or face steep drink charges without warning.
He said: ‘We only found out when we arrived and only budgeted so much because we thought all our food and drink would be covered.
“We were very upset and angry.
“We came as a family of eight to celebrate my cousin’s 40th birthday and although we still had a great time, we incurred additional costs as a result.”
Local authorities in Spain introduced an alcohol ban in January this year, which affects some resort areas in the Balearic Islands, including Palma, Ibiza and Magaluf.
The new law – which states that ‘alcoholic beverages will be limited to six a day’ – is part of a package of measures aimed at cracking down on anti-social behaviour.
These would also include bans on pub crawls, happy hours and two-for-one drink deals, all of which are enforced by hefty fines.
Jason, from Blackburn, Lancs., said he understands the government is trying to stop yobbish drinking behavior, but he thinks the new rules need to be better advertised.
He said: ‘I understand that they are trying to curb alcohol abuse and rowdy behavior but I think it was done in a very underhanded way – I was not informed and did not know not the law.
“We are also here with family and the all inclusive is great for families as you don’t have to worry about the budget for food and drink.”
Jason called on tour operators to give holidaymakers more information about how their trips could be affected by the draconian laws.
He also thinks vacations where a three-drink-per-meal rule is in place are mislabeled and shouldn’t be called “all-inclusive.”
He said: “I’ve looked at the fine print and the booze rule is there so I don’t think it should be sold as an all inclusive holiday, it should be sold as half board or something of the kind. .
“If you are booking an all inclusive vacation I recommend looking at the fine print and seeing what is actually included and what is not as the rules have changed.”
Holidaymakers writing on social media have reacted furiously to the new laws, which many say have not been widely publicized.
One Twitter user argued that inclusive holidays with alcohol limits should be marketed as ‘half board’ – and called for hotel contracts where this was not clearly stated to be torn up.
He said: “Britons will now be limited to just six drinks a day, which can only be accessed with their lunch and dinner – offering them just three drinks per meal.”
“[That’s] usually referred to as “Half Board Plus”. It’s time to cancel the hotel contracts for the All Inclusive formula.
A spokesperson for ABTA – The Travel Association said the rules could cause “confusion” among holidaymakers.
They said: “ABTA strongly supports initiatives that improve the health and safety of holidaymakers, as well as the well-being of local communities.
“Some of the measures introduced by authorities in the Balearic Islands to limit anti-social behavior may confuse British holidaymakers.
“We welcome the recent clarification from the authorities, in particular that the restrictions will only apply to certain limited areas of Mallorca and Ibiza rather than the whole of the Balearic Islands as originally proposed.
“ABTA will continue to engage with the Government of the Balearic Islands, ABTA members and other parties, to encourage clear communication and information exchange, to ensure that holidaymakers traveling to hotels designated areas enjoy a positive customer experience.”
Tour operator Thomas Cook recently alerted customers to the free booze crackdown via email.
They said: “Please note that a decree has been issued by the Balearic government on a new restriction for the all-inclusive meal option.
“There is a maximum of six alcoholic drinks per person per day that can be served and these drinks will only be provided during lunch and dinner (3 each).
“Please note that Magalluf, El Arenal, Playa de Palma in Mallorca and Sant Antoni in Ibiza, there is a new restriction on All Inclusive.”
Love Holidays, which sold the all-inclusive vacation to Jason, has been approached for comment.