An all-inclusive resort often seems like the obvious choice when planning a budget-friendly vacation. Everything is (supposedly) included, so (supposedly) what you pay upfront is the only fee you'll incur, and you can (supposedly) drink, dine, and play till your heart's content. But unfortunately, some hotels that bill themselves as "all-inclusive" have plenty of caveats: VIP-only pools, limited dining hours, and hefty fees for just about anything extra -- to name just a few. So you won't be met with any unexpected surprises on your next getaway, we did the research and found 18 all-inclusive properties that truly offer a great bang for your buck. These hotels, in the Caribbean and Mexico, are the best of the best for those looking for the most value.
This mid-range all-inclusive property is on the smaller side, so guests get all of the perks of an all-inclusive in a more intimate environment. It also means guests don’t get a ton of food options; there are just a couple restaurants on-site — one serves sushi, and the pool bar and snack bar also serve bites — but guests are entitled to eat free at a few restaurants at other Solmar properties. The real highlight is the hotel’s beachfront location, within walking distance of the marina and downtown. All room feature kitchenettes. Although the beach is not swimmable, the Solmar still attracts folks to the sandy stretch plus its pool with a swim-up bar.
A mega-resort, the Grand Palladium feels like a shopping mall but is expansive enough for privacy, romance, and fun. It has numerous pools (including the largest in Jamaica), large rooms, name-brand liquor, tasty breakfasts, mini-golf, and more — all for lower rates than lesser-equipped all-inclusives.
El Cozumeleño is a mid-range all-inclusive resort located directly on a long, narrow beach in northern Cozumel. Its 252 rooms are no-frills and some have dated technology, but all units are spacious (especially those in the original building). The pools are the highlight here (one has a popular swim-up bar), but golf is also a draw due to the resort’s location across the street from a beloved golf course. Breakfast and lunch are pretty average, but dinner is tasty and the menu changes every few days. Overall, the hotel is a solid pick for families and value travelers.
The massive, all-inclusive Hard Rock is a sleek option in Punta Cana, located on a gorgeous stretch of white-sand beach. Getting from one place to the other on the sprawling property can take some time, but the hotel provides a shuttle. In addition, the size allows the resort to have broad appeal — it attracts families, couples, and partiers. The signature Hard Rock rocker vibe can be seen throughout the hotel, whether it be in the music-themed decor or the free guitar rentals. On-site amenities such as golf, an arcade center, and a sprawling fitness center help keep guests busy. There are plenty of dining options as well.
The 390-room, mid-range Royal Solaris is an affordable all-inclusive option on the beach geared toward families. This attractive time-share property (beware of sales pitches) has ample amenities, including a massive outdoor pool, multiple restaurants, a spa, and more. Rooms have traditional furnishings and balconies — though some are tiny. Daily activities keep the masses occupied, and while the beautiful beach is typically not swimmable, it offers tons of sandy space and loungers under thatched umbrellas. Thanks to a kids’ and teens’ club, nightly entertainment, dance classes, and a water park, families are the norm — but couples can relax at the spa or adult-only pool.
Compared to the many massive hotels at the north end of Nuevo Vallarta, the Samba Vallarta’s 183-room, four-story Spanish colonial-style building feels pleasantly small-scale — and the pools and beach tend to be less crowded than elsewhere. The clean rooms have basic, contemporary beach decor (light woods, turquoise bed skirts and runners), and the general ambiance of the property is family-friendly and relaxed. For those who want to go the all-inclusive route but don’t want a mega-resort experience, this affordable mid-range property is a fine choice.
The Spanish hotel company Riu offers three classes of all-inclusive in Nuevo Vallarta, and the 445-room Palace Pacifico is the top dog — but nonetheless offers a solid bang for your buck. The grounds are immaculate, sprawling with lush, towering palms and perfectly manicured garden walkways dotted with high-end lounge seating — and the expansive pool, with a swim-up bar and in-pool lounges and bistro tables, isn’t too shabby either. Room decor, however, while nice, is nothing special. Dining options are plentiful (always a plus at an all-inclusive).
The 400-room, all-inclusive Riu Palace Riviera Maya sits right on the soft, sugar-white beach of Playa del Carmen’s Playacar. Surrounded by towering palm trees and expertly groomed greenery, the property is like luxurious tropical eye candy. Architecturally speaking, the hotel puts a stylish spin on the charming, traditional Mexican estate, resulting in an opulent-meets-old-world ambiance. The lobby — decked out in marble floors and huge chandeliers — also has an impressive rotunda and radiant glass-stained ceiling panes. There is a good variety of food options, plus a small spa and fitness center. But the pool is probably the highlight here — it’s expansive.
The Riu Palace Paradise Island, located next door to mega-resort The Royal at Atlantis, is one of the few all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas. The 379 rooms and suites have been renovated with contemporary decor, and include Riu trademarks such as stocked minibars with liquor dispensers and 24-hour room service (both free). The buffet spreads change often, and four a la carte options help stave off all-inclusive monotony. After dinner, there’s typical all-inclusive nightly entertainment. The Riu brand spa, Renova, offers couples massages and treatments.
Located on Punta Cana’s quiet Uvero Alto Beach, Now Onyx Punta Cana offers amenities galore: a beautiful beach, two freshwater infinity pools with swim-up bars, a saltwater pool for kids, free non-motorized water sports, a full-service spa with options for kids, and a teens’ club. Restaurants include buffets and Asian and French a la carte options, and numerous bars can be found across the property. The 502 rooms are modern, complete with free minibars, rainfall showers, and balconies featuring whirlpool tubs.
An adults-only hotel with a lovely secluded beach, the Excellence Punta Cana underwent a 45-million dollar renovation in 2017. What can you expect from the luxury all-inclusive today? Two outdoor swimming pools — one that nearly extends the length of the property — and a two-story spa with a free-to-use hydrotherapy circuit. The fabulous all-inclusive package covers top-shelf liquor, lobster, 12 bars, and 10 gourmet restaurants serving everything from Mexican to French fare. To top it off, the 450 contemporary suites all have jetted tubs, well-stocked free minibars, and free welcome sparkling wine.
With a dramatic cliffside setting in Negril, this adults-only all-inclusive is considered one of Jamaica’s most special resorts — albeit one with high nightly rates. Meals and drinks are included, but the offerings here go above and beyond typical all-inclusive fare. Private five-course dinners, which are held by candlelight in one of the grottos at the base of the cliffs, are included in the rates (reservations are required). Drinks at the grotto-housed Blackwell Rum Bar and The Sands clifftop bar are free, as are authentic jerk-barbecue nights. Room service is also available, and the hotel offers cooking classes on request once a week. Minibars in the 11 cottages and suites are re-stocked daily with free beer, liquor, water, juice, and snacks. Other freebies include snorkeling and kayaking trips, as well as lessons on how to safely cliff jump, on-site parking, bike rentals, and Wi-Fi are all free.
The best of the three Iberostar resorts in Montego Bay, the Grand Hotel Rose Hall comes out on top of its neighbors when it comes to decor, food, and features. While some elements remain shared with the lesser Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites — the spa, fitness center, casino, nightclub, and shops, for example — guests here also get free access to all three resorts’ restaurants, bars, pools, and beaches. More good news: The all-inclusive rates cover all meals (including specialty restaurants and room service), top-shelf liquor, non-motorized water sports, and a free round of golf with a three-night (or longer) stay. The price might be higher than neighboring hotels, but for good reason.
About a 30-minute drive from Ocho Rios, the upscale, adults-only Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa offers great value. For starters, guests can expect plenty of loungers on the beach and at the three pools (all with a swim-up bar and hot tub) as well as modern rooms that all have private outdoor space and turndown service. All-inclusive rates include tasty food and drinks, as well as glass-bottom boat tours, a daily scuba dive (for certified divers), a sunset cruise, a reef snorkeling excursion, use of non-motorized water sports equipment (kayaks, peddle boats, Hobie Cats), pool and beachside movies, a Konoko Falls tour, and a shopping tour.
Affordable all-inclusive rates, a lagoon-style pool complex with Jamaica’s largest water park, and varied dining options are all reasons to book a stay at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa. On top of that, rooms are contemporary, and the all-inclusive package covers all food, all non-premium brand liquor, draft beer, and wine by the glass, non-motorized water sports, access to the kids’ club, Wi-Fi, and daytime activities and classes. The hotel’s wide, private beach is lovely, and it’s a 15-minute drive to Montego Bay’s Hip Strip restaurants and shops for those looking to leave the resort. Guests who stay put can enjoy the evening music and shows.
Drive 20 minutes north of Punta Cana and you’ll wind up at Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa, a sprawling, 730-room luxury all-inclusive located on a beautiful beach. Several pools (including a beautiful infinity option and a 1,200-foot lazy river), multiple kids’ clubs for different ages, and a full entertainment program make this property an excellent pick for families seeking a fun-filled getaway. Food is good, too, and the all-inclusive package covers all buffet meals as well as unlimited meals at any of the a la carte restaurants. In addition to these amenities, the resort houses spacious, elegant rooms with big tubs and terraces. Want to take things to the next level? Travelers looking for a more exclusive stay can upgrade to the Diamond Club, which offers great perks such as private pools and beach areas, butler service, preferential restaurant reservations, and additional in-room amenities.
Just south of Playa del Carmen lies the massive, 900-room Hotel Xcaret. Thanks to its ample on-site amenities, the all-inclusive resorts sees plenty of families and couples alike. Some of these features include free access and transport to the area Xcaret parks (Xcaret, Xenses, Xplor, and Xel-Ha), several pools, a stunning river and lagoon, 10 restaurants — Mexican, Asian, international buffet options among them — eight bars, a kids’ club, and a swish spa. The eco-minded resort also features a lounger-lined beach, plus beautiful rooms with local decor, jetted tubs and separate showers, terraces with hammocks, and free minibars.
This family-friendly all-inclusive resort with 658 suites has an attractive setting, affordable prices, and a compact layout (no shuttle) that puts everyone within walking distance to the beach. Food is above average for an all-inclusive (especially at this price point) and variety is excellent. The beach is the biggest draw, and there is also a large and lengthy pool area that runs the length of the resort, a number of bars, and a charismatic animation team. Rooms have classic, romantic style and marble bathrooms with jetted tubs (indoor or outdoor). Adults who choose to upgrade to the Colonial Club have access to a private lazy river pool and separate lounge for drinks and gourmet treats.
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