Ah, the all-inclusive, synonymous with ease and spotty service. But just because you don’t want to bother dealing with a million receipts, doesn’t mean you can’t have an modicum of quality. Here are a few vacation destinations, from Mexico to Rapa Nui, that take the oxymoron out of “luxury all-inclusive”.
Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita
While there’s a plethora of properties in Mexico that offer catch-all holidays, only a few live up to any kind of luxury standards. This Riviera Maya property is the highest-rated Mexican resort in our all-inclusive category, scoring 80 out of a possible 100. Zoëtry’s “Endless Privileges” here mean that guests get a ridiculously long list of complimentary perks, including a bottle of champagne and fresh fruit basket daily, one-hour Catamaran sunset sail (weather permitting), 20-minute wellness or fitness consultation, skin analysis, Thalasso seawater treatment, and more, in addition to the usual unlimited food and drink.
If you’re looking to marry the quintessential all-inclusive Cancun party experience with a higher level of quality, try this adult-centric resort recently mentioned in the New York Times’ piece “Including More in All-Inclusives”. They call out the property’s bounty of five restaurants, seven bars and DJ sets. And if the debach-a-thon gets to be too much, chase down all that rum and revelry with a little quiet time in their Chill Out Zone.
The Veranda Resort
For a little less ME and a little more “we,” this family-friendly resort in Turks and Caicos is a solid choice. Rent a four-bedroom beachfront villa, complete with barbeques and plunge pools, to house the whole brood. And if (or more a matter of when) mom and dad want to go mano-a-mano with martini glasses at the M Bar, they can drop the tykes off at the Kids Club for the day.
The Passport blog editor’s favorite all-inclusive experience wasn’t in some tropical or subtropical locale (although she does love those), it was in her own British Columbia backyard. In Desolation Sound, the resort is situated on its own island and boasts some of the best salmon fishing in the world. The list of inclusions here is lengthy: all meals, beverages (alcoholic and otherwise), amenities (tennis court, movie theater, nine hole putting green, virtual golf stations, fly-fishing, video game equipment, billiards, gym facilities, saunas and mineral pools, phew), free phone and wireless. And those meals and bevvies, well, they’re gourmet enough to rival finer dining establishments in urban centers.
This idyllic and isolated eco-resort in Indonesia is Kiwi Expert Brad Cocks’ favorite hotel (and that’s in the whole collection, not just the all-inclusives). That’s because there’s a surf break right outside with a ten surfer quota to keep it uncrowded, and a slew of other activities. Included in the accommodation price are all meals, soft drinks, a welcome drink, one complimentary full body massage per guest, and one complimentary traditional Sumba village excursion per guest and and airport transfers to Tambolaka Airport in West Sumba.
Like Brad, Kiwi Expert Federica Antonioli claims an all-inclusive as her number one of all properties in the collection. She says this lodge in South Africa is tops for family, safari experience and even cooking classes, “You can pretty much do anything you want there!” And the all-important plates and pours component? “The food is outstanding and they also have a great selection of wine.” Read the Destination Dispatch “Splendor in the Game Reserve” to learn more about what a stay here is like. There’s also 44 other African safari-style all-inclusives to consider.
Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa
How about Arabian nights in a Bedouin tent on the desert edges of Dubai? Kiwi Expert Daniel Szelényi picks this Middle Eastern oasis as a choice all-inclusive. Al Maha, aptly a part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, but drinks are extra. But perhaps the biggest perk you get with the room rate are two complimentary activities, which could be a horse ride, camel trek, wildlife drive, desert safari, nature walk, archery or falconry.
Tarzan wouldn’t have toted around a credit card even if he could (hard to have pockets on a loincloth), so you could say this jungle resort in India would be his cup of tea. Jane’s too, for the refinement offered on top of the wild charms. First, fresh juice and coffee delivered to every guest’s tented suite along the Banjaar River, then a game drive to spot tigers, leopards, sloth bears and barasingha (Indian deer).
Explora en Rapa Nui
Surely a stay on the remotest inhabited island is the most exotic of all-inclusive experience one can have. Located on Easter Island or Rapa Nui, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this resort takes sustainability seriously. Its LEED-certified building was constructed on a site nonviable for agricultural use. With properties in Atacama and Patagonia too, Explora provides nature and culture experiences, so a stay here includes entrance to Rapa Nui National Park and daily explorations with bilingual guides and equipment, in addition to room and board (yep, bar too).