Oyster’s team of undercover reviewers explored numerous hotels in the Bahamas. We slept in the beds, lounged by the pools, ate in the restaurants, and even sampled the nightlife, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. When choosing an all-inclusive property, the amenities included, food and drinks on tap, and quality of facilities are the most important factors. Here’s a list of our favorite all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas, where you can get as many piña coladas as your heart desires at no extra cost.
Crowded beaches are unheard of on this private island resort where a maximum of 28 guests at a time have free range of 50 acres and three beaches. Personal boats for daily excursions, on-call service, spacious villas with fully stocked kitchens and wet bars, and a host of all-inclusive activities make Fowl Cay a standout gem in the Exumas. However, some of the villas feature outdated decor and worn furnishings that seem inconsistent with the resort's high nightly rates.
What was once known as the famous Balmoral Club back in the 1940s later became the 408-room Sandals Resort in 1995, where the motto is "Love is all you need." This resort has everything designed for couples and manages to impress upon arrival with Roman columns, statues, fountains, three levels of elegant accommodations, 10 distinct restaurants, and eight bars. It’s not all romance though; the resort does attract its fair share of partiers -– hence the rowdy Piano Bar and English Cricketeer Pub which are both open till the wee hours.
After renovating in 2009, the Riu is now a solid all-inclusive option -- just be sure to compare its rates to the far more stunning Atlantis next door. In both cases, you get a spectacular beach, up-to-date rooms, and proximity to upscale restaurants and attractions. At the Riu, you also get unlimited food and booze.
An upscale, sprawling resort, Melia Nassau Beach is located on beautiful and serene Cable Beach. It's a 15-minute drive from the airport, but it's not in walking distance to other attractions. The 694 rooms and 32 suites are tastefully decorated, if a little generic, but they have wonderful views from private furnished balconies. A stylish lobby, three pools, daily activities, and entertainment add to the Melia's appeal. Six on-site restaurants serve better-than-expected food, and there's an on-site Starbucks. There are some tradeoffs for a resort this size: an impersonal feel, long waits for check-in, and long walks from the elevators to some rooms. Travelers may want to compare amenities and rates with Riu Palace Paradise Island.
An old, worn, all-inclusive (all-you-can-drink), 276-room resort, Viva Wyndham is an affordable option that's about a 10-minute drive outside the restaurants and attractions in Freeport and Lucaya. The service, cleanliness, food, pool, and guest rooms all range from poor to mediocre; the price reflects this.
The mid-range Small Hope Bay Lodge is an informal, natural, all-inclusive property located on Andros Island, a short flight from Nassau. Guests looking to get lost in the secluded, quiet, rugged nature of the property can be found lounging in hammocks, Adirondack chairs, or on one of two beaches. There's also a large variety of excursions, including diving, fishing, snorkeling, and nature walks, that keep guests active and occupied. The 21 cabins are rustic, a little worn, and lack Wi-Fi or TVs, but they all have porches facing the ocean. There's a friendly and communal atmosphere as guests gather together to share meals in the restaurant, sip drinks at the bar, or linger by the outdoor grill. Small Hope has one of the best rates on the island given its features. Tiamo Resort, another Andros Island property, has nicer rooms and more manicured grounds, but a much higher rate.
On beautiful and remote Long Island, the mid-range Stella Maris Resort Club is a large and natural property with competitive rates and a range of accommodations. With hotel rooms, cottages, and villas with up to four bedrooms, the resort has lodging to fit most parties and budgets. The 45 rooms are spacious and beachy, but lacking in TVs and Wi-Fi. Stella Maris has three pools, a rugged, scenic (but not swimmable) beach, and an on-site restaurant and separate beach bar. One of the highlights of the resort is its range of activities, many of which are free, including day trips, boating, nature walks, caving, bikes, kayaks, and rum punch parties. There's also a free shuttle to multiple, swimmable beaches around the island. The resort is nothing ritzy, but in all, Stella Maris provides a great value for the activities and amenities.