I can totally see your point and I think it all has to do with what you want in a vacation (or for us it’s actually more the difference between ‘vacation’ and ‘travelling’.)
For me, a big part of the fun is researching the country, the different places to stay, finding out about transport etc.
I think as a solo traveler and also if you go on vacation with kids, AI’s are the way to go. It is very convenient just to eat and drink whenever you feel like it, if you don’t like the food, you can leave it, without feeling too bad about it and it’s handy not to bring your wallet to the restaurants.
For us, we found that basically most AI’s are about the same, it’s hard to distinguish an AI in Mexico from one in say Cuba or the Dominican.
We prefer to see more of the countryside, experience local cultures, local restaurants and markets etc. I know, you can do that too if you stay at an AI, but usually that’s a one day organized excursion and we really don’t like those organized trips. The other thing we’ve found too, that when you stay at an AI and you take say 2 or 3 excursions in a week, you pay double for those days (you pay for the excursions plus the day at the resort, even though you’re not there).
I’m not saying there is a wrong or right way about it, just a different opinion