Resort Travel. Good or Evil? Let's Discuss.

To say I am conflicted about resorts is an understatement. My thoughts swing from them being invasive, Disneyland concoctions of what it's like to visit a place, to a place of potential relaxation, activity and enjoyment.  I associate resorts with beaches and sitting around not experiencing the true nature of the area around you. I always think of resorts as the all-inclusive type - no reason to leave and experience outside of the surreal world that's been created for you. I also think that resorts are developed for more affluent travelers, adding another layer of separation between the locals and travelers; while also changing the architectural landscape of the location. But what's the point of traveling so far only to be in one place? 

Again, this is how I have thought of them until this trip. What's the difference between staying at a resort and staying at a retreat? Aesthetics and services, but they serve the same purpose, no? People seek out retreats as a means to reset, find answers, to be taken care of, or to learn about a topic in depth. I would think one could do the same at a resort. 

We have been staying at a resort of sorts while in Thailand. We've been live ins at a Thai massage school and have been provided with 3 fabulous meals a day, instruction on body work, daily herbal steam baths, etc. It's fantastic. Based on this experience, I have recently started thinking that perhaps what resorts really offer is an escape from making decisions. Everything is there for you and you don't really need to consider much. 

Doing long term travel means a lot of decisions. Figuring out where to stay, how long to be there, what kind of access to food (cooking for yourself requires a place with a kitchen, otherwise you're looking at trying to figure out where and what to eat 3 times a day) and activities It's a lot to organize and once one decision is made, another is sitting waiting for you. Resort or retreat living removes these distractions.

I know, it sounds like "gee I wish I had those problems" but really, decisions like these become as tedious in living this life as living one at "home". So, I started thinking, is this really the beauty of the resort? I find a place I would like to stay, activities are planned and at the ready and a bevy of food options available. No real need to make any real decisions. 

And so the conflict continues, can one go to a resort and partake in all their offerings and still get a sense of the place around them? I understand I am assuming people don't tend to leave the confines of the resort much since everything is right there. I also know that I have a particular image in my mind of a resort and am largely picking on all-inclusives. But as we continue to plan the next phases of our travel, we are considering a resort for some down time from all the decisions that need to be made and just relax and enjoy. But of course, I wonder what I would be missing if we did so. Did we travel thousands of miles to have a manicured experience?

What are your thoughts? Would you feel as though you are not experiencing a place if you stayed at a resort and spent little to no time outside of its confines? Please comment. I would love to hear your views.