Any kind of “top 10” list is bound to be subjective. There’s no way around it. It is impossible to account for everyone’s tastes and address every possible variable of a vacation and a resort. However, the following “Top 10 All-Inclusive Vacation Destinations” turn up again and again in listings on the Internet and in travel magazines, too. To make sure you are making the right choice, you should talk to as many people as you can who have actually been to the resort you are considering.
The idea of all-inclusive vacations is not that old, but it has caught on like wildfire because it takes much of the worry out of trip planning. It is not likely you could put together a vacation package for less than the “all inclusives” charge, but not everyone goes this route to save money. The high-end resorts of the all-inclusive variety are pricey, but there are also some bargains to be bad if you do not expect five-star amenities at three- or four-star prices. The following are not in any particular order, but many are clustered in the Caribbean because of its longstanding popularity.
1. Goldeneye Resort, St. Mary, Jamaica: James Bond fans have made the Goldeneye a top pick in many resort listings. This Jamaican retreat was built by Bond novelist Ian Fleming in the 1950s and he is said to have written 14 of his “007” thrillers there. The “short report” on Goldeneye is that it is “a magical place” that provides simple luxury along with carefree, casual comfort. Many celebrities flock to this spot for the privacy, and Goldeneye’s main beach is clean, uncrowded and private with fluffy white sand and warm, crystalline waters. The 007 cachet, great privacy, good food and fabulous grounds combine to make Goldeneye a favorite all-inclusive resort.
2. Sandals Royal Bahamian, Bahamas: As a chain, the Sandals Resorts have been voted “World’s Best” for the past 10+ years by travel professionals worldwide. Many longtime travel agents, who should know, believe that Sandals does “all-inclusive” better than anyone, and they should – they invented it. Sandals does everything with an unsurpassed emphasis on quality, so it is by no means a “budget” destination. This particular Sandals resort – with its offshore island, eight restaurants, seven pools, valet service and Rolls-Royce airport shuttles – will meet the demands of the most discriminating travelers.
3. Sandals Antigua Resort & Spa, Antigua: Situated on Dickenson Bay, the island’s premier (and most famous) beach, this is the chain’s “romantic getaway.” It offers Caribbean village charm plus the refinement and luxury of a world-class, all-inclusive resort, and was voted the “World’s Leading Honeymoon Resort” for four straight years. Crystal clear air and winding paths welcome you to hidden hammocks for the happy twosome.
4. Secrets Excellence, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Situated far from city crowds on a remote portion of Caribbean shoreline – in its own palm tree forest, no less – Secrets Excellence has everything from live stage shows, hot and happy Latin American music for dancing, a casino and horseback rides on the beach. It is perhaps the perfect adult playground, with two giant pools featuring swim-up bars a world-class spa/fitness center for workouts or relaxing massages. The resort is an adults only destination with a perfect beach and plenty to do – or not.
5. Gala Resort, Mayan Riviera, Mexico: This classically Mexican getaway is truly different, unique in every way, and proud of it. Gala offers an unparalleled vacation adventure, and its staff is committed to your enjoying your stay beyond all expectations. Featuring deluxe accommodations, attentive service, superlative dining, and activities for guests of all ages, the Gala Resort is a world-class destination that will be everything you expect, and probably more.
6. Beaches Negril, Negril, Jamaica: Set on 20 lush, jasmine-scented acres, on a prime stretch of Negril’s world-famous, seven-mile beach, this resort is both charmed and charming. You are immediately enveloped in the awesome natural splendor, and when you factor in the gourmet dining, creative activities and first-class amenities, you just might think you’ve found paradise on earth.
7. Franklyn D Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica: The Franklyn D Resort wins many recommendations based on its family-friendly atmosphere and layout. This, in fact, is the resort that invented the “vacation nanny,” who will look after you, your kids and your suite. The “FDR” is small and intimate, while still offering every amenity and doing so in a world-class manner. The resort has a special kids’ buffet, decent adult food, an average beach and modest suite furnishings. In many visitors’ opinions, the vacation nanny and staff make up for any and all shortcomings.
8. Royal Hideaway, Playacar, Mexico: This is a small gem of a resort with just 178 rooms, but there is a full activities program on a gorgeous, first-class property. Six restaurants, complete concierge service and doting poolside attendants bring a touch of luxury to the surroundings, and the champagne at check-in time signals you are in the right place. The stunning beach and the “seriously five-star” food service round out the attractions. “Classy and relaxing” is the way one reviewer described it. Although the whole family is welcome, the resort does cater to couples.
9. Harmony Club, Bermuda: The traditional Bermudan “cottage-style” architecture communicates intimacy at this private country resort. In a fabulous setting of exquisite gardens, this classic resort is near Bermuda’s famed beaches, accessible to Hamilton’s shops and nightspots, and boasts an abundance of elegance and a complete list of the expected amenities. Not too large, not too small, many guests have concluded that Harmony Club is “just right.”
10. Iberostar Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: This is another all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana with high ratings from guests and good write-ups at the travel sites. The complex is dotted with buffets and restaurants, with cuisines from around the world. The disco is designed to emulate a DC6 airplane, with the nose acting as the DJ booth and the wings serving as the bars. Many visitors claim the Iberostar Bavaro has the best beach in the country, with flawless white sand and bright, turquoise waters. The individual villas are ensconced in lagoons with gardens overflowing with tropical flowers and palms. There are nine restaurants and a cozy casino, to boot.