Are Spanish all-inclusives really ditching limitless booze? Only if you go to these places…

May 11, 2022

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For many vacationers, the Spanish islands were once a booze-dipped horn of plenty, a home away from home where friendships were made, memories were lost and you could drink ‘til you dropped as part of your package.

Those days are no more — at least for some popular Spanish destinations. Sun-seekers looking forward to a boozy getaway in the Balearic region may me disappointed to learn authorities have introduced new rules banning limitless drinking on all-inclusive packages.

Here’s what you need to know.

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Why the new rules?

The rules are part of the Balearic government’s new “tourism law” passed in early February 2022 which is aimed at attracting “quality tourism.” It’s an effort to rid the area of the rowdy visitors who have partied on the calm shores for decades.

“We want British tourists,” the islands’ tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, said in London last February. “[But] we don’t want this type of tourism. International tourism is essential for our islands. We share with the British government the view that some images of British tourists are embarrassing.”

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The region’s authorities are taking measures to decrease the amount of unruly tourists. “From April to May this year we will increase the police presence in these areas and the number of inspectors,” Negueruela said. “We will have zero tolerance for tourism excesses.”

What are the rules exactly?

A letter sent to customers of tour operator Thomas Cook confirmed the new rule updates: “All-inclusive” no longer means “unlimited drinks.” Instead, vacationgoers will be limited to six drinks per day.

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“Please be advised that a decree has been issued by the Balearic Government on a new restriction for all-inclusive meal option,” the Thomas Cook message said. “There is a maximum of six alcoholic drinks per person per day that can be served and these drinks will be provided only during lunch and dinner (three each).”

In other words, vacationers at the affected resorts will be allowed just three free drinks with their lunch, and then they’ll have to wait to consume three more drinks during their evening meal. If they want more than the allotted six drinks per day, vacationgoers will need to pay for the additional drinks.

Does the six-drink limit apply to the entirety of Spain?

No. The rules apply only to certain regions, including parts of Ibiza and Majorca. At the time of writing, the new rules only actually apply to the Magaluf resort on Majorca, the towns of El Arenal and Playa de Palma on Majorca, and the town of Sant Antoni de Portmany in Ibiza.

Can I change my booking to an area unaffected by the drink-limit rules?

You can, but it will depend on who you have booked with. If you would like to change your all-inclusive vacation you should reach out to the company you booked with to check their change or cancellation policies — cut-off dates, cancellation fees and change fees will vary.

British tourism company TUI has said any hotels affected by the changes will be flagged on their website, so customers are fully aware before they book a holiday. The travel company also said the restrictions shouldn’t impact the quality of service in any of their hotels.

EasyJet, meanwhile, has stated that affected customers can change their bookings up to 28 days before departure with their Protection Promise if they’re concerned with the rules changes in the Balearic islands.

Travel booking website Love Holidays will also allow customers to change their bookings to hotels outside of the affected areas. Travelers can change hotels up to five days before departure via the company’s Manage My Booking service, though it’s worth noting that the comapny’s standard cancellation terms still apply.

Are there any other changes?

Yes. On top of limiting drinks in all-inclusive resorts, Balearic authorities have placed a four-year ban on building new hotel; they will instead focus on modernizing existing hotels and resorts. Authorities also pledged to improve tourism sustainability and banned the sale of alcohol in shops between 9:30 p.m. and 8 a.m.

They have also put an end to free bars, happy hours, organized pub crawls, two-for-one drink deals, and the advertising of party boats in some areas.

Photo by 5m3photos / Getty Images.

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