All-inclusive resort vacations just got more luxurious and easier to book — here’s how to find the right place for your family

Overwater Villa at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort

Courtesy of Sandals Resorts Overwater villas in Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica, come with butler service.

“You still haven’t come to visit us,” Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals International Resorts, reminds me on Zoom. I’ve been casually planning to take my family to an all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean for over a year – a “set it and forget it” getaway to ease the stress of pandemic life with young children.

As it turns out, now is the perfect time for this kind of vacation. The all-inclusive model – where the booking price covers not just accommodation but food, drink and activities within the hotel – has long been loyal, but now all-inclusive categories respond to the demand for customization, more space, better food, and more amenities.

A series of sandals and beach renovations and new projects, including a $55 million renovation of 404 Sandals Royal Bahamian rooms (doubles from $429 per person) and 351 sandals room Royal Curaçao (doubles from $393 per person) It offers guests a customized experience, with swimming suites, private pools, and what Stewart describes as “the most luxurious casual Caribbean experience.”

“People want to have diverse options and the diversity of their experiences,” says Josh Alexander, luxury travel advisor at Protravel International. Its customers are booking more and more all-inclusive properties, responding to offers of restaurants and broader amenities like butler service and plunge pools — newly relevant in the age of COVID.

Based on my own experience, the area with the greatest need for improvement in the mass segment is dining. Fortunately, hotel brands are noticing how much guests appreciate upscale book-only venues with more focused menus, such as teppanyaki or tapas. Everyone responds by constantly improving and expanding their options.

The new 715-key Hilton Cancun all-inclusive hotel (doubles from $538) He highlights this culinary ambition with a sushi bar, steakhouse, taqueria restaurant, and trattoria that offers “great home sourdough pizza,” says Juan Corvinos, senior vice president at Hilton.

The lobby at the Hilton Cancun

The lobby at the Hilton Cancun

Courtesy of Hilton Cancun, the all-inclusive resort Hilton Cancun’s Azulinda Lobby Bar serves beer from local brewery Pescadores.

The brand has responded to the growing demand for all-inclusive accommodations, particularly in Mexico, adding properties to its portfolio – including the 444-room Hilton Vallarta Riviera. (doubles from $353) and the recently opened 735-room Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya.

Luxury extends beyond the food, of course. I can’t imagine my kids lounging by the pool at the 117-room Marriott Delta Riviera Nayarit. (doubles from $259), Which opened in August 2021 and is geared towards families. In addition to the new beach club, the resort is building a water park with a lazy river and cascading pools.

For stressed parents like myself, everyone also leans toward wellness trends, says Diana Plazas Trowbridge, Marriott International’s chief sales and marketing officer for the Caribbean and Latin America. Westin Porto de Galinhas 164-room hotel (doubles from $483), It will open in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil, this month, and will offer spa treatments as extras to the daily rates.

While many large hotel brands have instituted rate-matching policies years ago to encourage direct bookings, smaller chains have increasingly embraced the policy. Palace Moon Palace Jamaica has 731 rooms (doubles from $436), For example, it guarantees that it will meet any published price from any US based booking company.

A man rides a surfing simulator at Moon Palace Jamaica

A man rides a surfing simulator at Moon Palace Jamaica

Courtesy of Moon Palace Jamaica Guests at Moon Palace Jamaica can surf or windsurf at the resort’s FlowRider.

And when it comes to finding the best room at the best price, insiders say brand loyalty goes a long way. Plazas-Trowbridge says Marriott’s Bonvoy Points can be used to unlock a more personalized overall experience. Other loyalty programs – Life World, for example – have similar opportunities for tier upgrades and other perks.

One of the important things, according to Stewart, is to talk to a person whenever possible — whether it’s someone at your favorite hotel or a travel advisor. These professionals have access to special packages and last minute deals that will never appear online. As the field expands and attracts a wider segment of travelers, it is also worth planning early to get the best rates and get the dates of your choice.

I know I won’t wait any longer.

A version of this story originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the title Best all inclusive.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.