Now that the holidays have come and gone, we're wrapped in our winter coats and planning our next getaway. To escape freezing temps and snowy sidewalks, many travelers will head to the sunny Caribbean islands with warm weather year-round and pristine beaches. We took a look at which hotels in the Caribbean were the most popular for our users, and found that a majority were all-inclusive properties in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and Montego Bay, Jamaica. So if you're looking for travel inspiration to tried-and-true hotels, here are the 12 most sought-after resorts.
The 176-room all-inclusive luxury Sanctuary Cap Cana looks like a Spanish castle town and is perched on a cliff by the ocean. Its beautifully decorated pools, spa, and restaurants are all among the D.R.’s best. The resort makes our list for the most romantic, best luxury, and best all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. Plus, with rustic-chic rooms and gorgeous white-sand beach, it checks off every desirable feature. But sorry kids, as of December 2015, it’s adults only.
One of four Paradisus resorts in Punta Cana, the upscale, 554-room Palma Real has a romantic Caribbean setting and feels bigger than its sister properties, with a palatial lobby leading to a jaw-dropping courtyard, pool and beach area. The food and beverage offering here is a highlight; there are impressive international buffets as well as a la carte restaurants (one from a Michelin-starred chef) that will appeal to adults and honeymooners. Suites are decorated with classic mahogany furniture and marble tile floors, and have coffeemakers, minibars, and free Wi-Fi. For a more luxurious experience, Royal Service offers additional amenities and special access to a posh lounge. A beautiful spa is also available.
Likely Jamaica’s most romantic escape, as it’s for adults only, the Caves‘ 12 unique, private cottages and suites are tucked along lush garden paths and dramatic seaside cliffs (there’s no beach). High-quality, locally focused cuisine, a top-shelf bar, and intimate, incredibly attentive service make it Jamaica’s best all-inclusive. Free kayaks, snorkeling gear, yoga sessions, and bike tours only add to its already laundry list of fabulous features.
The best of the three Iberostar resorts in Montego Bay, this 295-room all-suite hotel is light years beyond its neighbors in terms of decor, food, and features. The rooms are stylish and high-end, with rich fabrics and materials such as leather, marble, silk, and brocade on modern wood furnishings. While some elements remain shared with the lesser Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites — for instance, the spa, fitness center, casino, nightclub, and shops — guests at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall get the pick of the litter with free access to all three resorts’ restaurants, bars, pools, and beaches. The rates might be higher, but for good reason.
The sprawling Secrets Wild Orchid is one of the more luxurious adults-only all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay, and has an expansive list of property features, including eight restaurants and five bars, and a host of activities: a theater, a spa, a water sports and dive center, a shopping center, and a casino. But it should be noted that the resort shares virtually all of its amenities with the next-door Secrets St. James, and some of the best amenities and freebies are reserved only for the VIP guests staying in the “Premiere” part of the resort.
This family-friendly, 613-room all-inclusive resort in the D.R. has a mostly European clientele. Basic rooms have received a slight refresh (no more patterned bedspreads), and the limited all-inclusive amenities help keep prices low. Three pools, trapeze lessons, and tennis are available, but most guests flock to the beach. Food is not a highlight and drinks are typically small pours in plastic cups, but affordable rates and beautiful sunsets keep it a popular pick for families. Romantics should consider the VIP upgrade.
The 1,600-room Palace Deluxe is the main resort at the Barcelo Bavaro complex, and features tons of on-site features including an attractive spa, a 24-hour casino, four pools, and 11 restaurants. But aside from substantial lines at the front desk, the guest capacity of the resort rarely shows: Guests do not have to search for spots at the pools and beach, and reservation requirements keep restaurants well organized. Couples, families, and partiers all mingle seamlessly at the property. Though the adults-only sister property has a slightly more romantic vibe, plenty of couples opt to stay here as it is where most of the features are located. The hotel’s rooms feature iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and attractive, sleek decor.
Stretching over 400 acres (including 2 miles of beach), the 230-room Half Moon resort offers attentive service, quality cuisine, and seemingly limitless activities like golfing and horseback riding. Rooms have simple, tasteful decor, spacious marble bathrooms, and furnished terraces. But where the resort really shines is in the activities offered; guests can swim with dolphins in the resort’s private cove, ride horses through the water (Half Moon has its own stables), take tennis lessons, practice putting on either of the two miniature golf courses, undergo any number of treatments at the spectacular Fern Tree spa or take out non-motorized water vessels like windsurfing boards or kayaks free of charge.
The Dreams Punta Cana is a lovely upper-mid-range all-inclusive property in Bavaro. Like many similar resorts in the area, it sits on a white-sand beach and offers a long list of features, such as water sports, daily and nightly entertainment, and numerous kid-friendly amenities. But the Dreams goes above and beyond with one of the largest pools in the D.R. (it never feels crowded), and above-average food at its many restaurants. Rooms are on the small side for the price, and standard rooms require an additional fee for Wi-Fi, but overall this is a great option for families and couples.
A mega-resort, the Grand Palladium feels like a shopping mall but is expansive enough for privacy, romance, and fun. It has five pools, large rooms, name-brand liquor, tasty breakfasts, mini-golf, and more–all for lower rates than lesser-equipped all-inclusives. But its remote locale comes with rocky, man-made beaches. There are definitely quirks throughout the property, but it offers a good value for families and couples.
With six pools, a sprawling water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the family-friendly Beaches is clearly the Turks and Caicos resort with the most features. There are four villages within the resort and rooms vary in furnishings and views by section. Kid-friendly features like a lounge for teens and Sesame Street camp make the resort particularly enticing for traveling families.
The Riu Palace Paradise Island, located next door to mega-resort Atlantis, is one of the few all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas. Those familiar with Spain-based Riu’s palatial Caribbean resorts might be disappointed by this aging property, with crowded pool and beach areas (saturated with vendors) and rowdy groups that come for free booze. Riu is slowly making progress, though, and 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 buffetspreads change often, and four a la carte options help stave off all-inclusive monotony. The Renova spa offers couples massages and treatments.