All too often, all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean can feel generic, staged, and just flat-out massive. (Room inventories nearing the 1,000-unit level are not unheard of in this part of the world.) But there are some places that offer everything-included rates and packages — and the charm, intimacy, and authenticity of a boutique hotel experience. These 15 resorts are blissfully free of poolside techno, 24/7 casinos, and the corporatized one-size-fits-all service mentality common of many all-inclusive resorts. Check out these relaxing boutique-style retreats, each one a far cry from the crowded chaos typically associated with Caribbean all-inclusives.
St. Lucia's adult-only Jade Mountain Resort is not just one of the most special and romantic resorts in the Caribbean, but in the world. The 29 rooms have an innovative design that lacks a fourth wall, opening them up to the elements (and bugs) and truly stunning views of the iconic Pitons and Caribbean Sea. Rooms are intentionally tech-free, so you better love your company (or at least your book) because there's little else to entertain. Organic cuisine is served in a chic open-air restaurant, and guests can expect unwavering peace and quiet throughout (there are no TVs or children). Though there is no beach, guests can take a short shuttle ride or hike down to use the two beaches, free water sports, and dive center at sister property Anse Chastanet. There are multiple trails on the resort's 600 acres and surrounding area for hiking, walking, jogging, and biking. Daily escorted tours are free with the exception of those that involve transportation. All in all, Jade Mountain is well worth the price -- especially for guests who opt for the all-inclusive package (which includes meals and drinks).
Zoetry Agua is one of the most luxurious and tranquil all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. The adult-only hotel boasts pristine pools, an uncrowded white-sand beach, a superlative spa, and gorgeous rooms with fully stocked minibars (refreshed daily), daily deliveries of sparkling wine and fruit, three-times daily housekeeping, 24-hour laundry service, and Bulgari toiletries. The all-inclusive rates cover unlimited craft cocktails and top-shelf liquor at the hotel's three laid-back bars and tasty a la carte meals at the four restaurants, plus a 24-hour room service menu. In lieu of loud music or nightly entertainment, activities include yoga classes and even one horseback riding session per guest.
Round Hill is easily one of the best resorts in Jamaica. The hotel's rooms, suites, and villas -- all designed by Ralph Lauren -- feature balconies or patios, coffeemakers with local coffee, pillow menus, and bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and rainfall showers. Property features include a 24-hour infinity pool (built into a cliff edge) and a spa with an outdoor hydrotherapy area surrounded by tropical foliage. The three restaurants are exquisite, but their high prices are a strong reason to consider Round Hill's all-inclusive package, which includes all meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and room service, plus airport transfers, a Great River rafting trip, and a welcome fruit plate and bottle of sparkling wine.
Crowded beaches are unheard of at Fowl Cay Resort, a private island retreat in the Bahamas where a maximum of 28 guests have free range of 50 acres and three beaches. Each one of the six spacious villas comes with a personal boat and golf cart for daily excursions and multiple private terraces and decks with incredible views. A major component of each villa is the expansive kitchen, fully stocked with food and alcohol and replenished daily by a 24-hour island host. However, some of the villas feature outdated decor and worn furnishings that seem inconsistent with the resort's high nightly rates. Nonetheless, Fowl Cay's intimate vibe and plethora of extras lands it high on our list. All-inclusive rates cover everything from meals and beverages (top-shelf liquor, wine, and beer) to water sports equipment and a host of other activities.
Eleven private cottages and suites are set along dramatic seaside cliffs at The Caves, an upscale adult-only escape with a bohemian vibe. Guests are welcomed with the resort’s signature cocktail, the Cliffhanger, the moment they arrive. For the remainder of their stay, they’re free to indulge in one of Jamaica’s best all-inclusive liquor selections. Dining options are limited given the hotel’s small-scale, but guests consistently rave about the quality of the meals, which incorporate local and seasonal ingredients. The creative menu can be enjoyed in a breezy lounge during breakfast and lunch, in the cliffside restaurant for dinner, or -- for no extra cost -- by candlelight in a private cave (five courses; reservations required). Blackwell Rum Bar occupies another grotto at the base of the cliffs, while the clifftop bar offers outdoor imbibing and authentic jerk-barbecue nights.
Situated on a seaside bluff on Antigua's western coast, this charming resort offers an authentic Caribbean setting with great views, an intimate adult-only atmosphere, and all-inclusive rates. The 57 rooms are what make Cocobay stand out: Each one is a quaint, private cottage painted in the classic Caribbean hues of pink or pastel blue. Decor includes vaulted ceilings, exposed wood beams, and a slightly rustic, stripped-down feel. The furnishings are deliberately basic and the walls bare, so as not to take away from the view outside; the picture windows and French doors face out to the turquoise sea. There's no fitness center or tennis courts, but the resort is about a five-minute walk from the excellent Little Ffryes Beach, where water sports like kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling are available.
This adult-only boutique resort isn't Antigua's fanciest property, but it doesn't need to be: Simple Caribbean style (think: thatched roofs, stone, and rattan), a truly gorgeous beach, a lagoon, a bird sanctuary, and all-inclusive food that's better than average for the island make for a winning combo. Water sports are also included in the rate, but the ocean here can get a bit rough so guests shouldn't count on being able to swim in it every day. The relaxed, tranquil environment of this 40-acre resort is also a major part of its appeal. The focus here is on laid-back romance, so there's no nightlife besides the nightly live music and restaurants shut down around 10 p.m. -- which is exactly the type of atmosphere most guests here are looking for. Even at maximum capacity, the resort doesn't feel crowded, so guests can count on quiet and plenty of privacy.
The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel is not your spring break Jamaica party scene. Guests choose this stylish hotel to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean, eat farm-to-table food, and avoid crowds. It's an adult-only resort, though older teenagers are allowed. The intimate hotel (maximum 47 visitors) features individual cottages, all-inclusive packages for dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, a variety of spa services, and an incredible view of the Negril cliffs and Caribbean Sea. The hotel’s gorgeous design and luxurious treatments make it a great upscale option for weddings, health and wellness retreats, and special events, as well as for travelers that simply want to escape and unwind in a tropical setting.
With lovely rooms and great on-site amenities, this 70-room Barbados boutique hotel attracts couples and families who never thought they’d choose an all-inclusive package. Spacious rooms are modern and bright, and most have glass-balconies (oceanfront rooms are worth the cost for the sunsets alone). The quiet beach along Prospect Bay feels private, and the calm waves are perfect for swimming and kayaking.
The SoCo Hotel is an all-inclusive boutique property located 10 minutes east of Bridgetown, in Barbados. The 24 bright, spacious rooms have balconies with ocean views as well as flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and iPod docks. Common areas are chic, and stylish decor in the lobby, restaurant, and small pool area includes large white candles and clean modern furniture. The beach is spacious and calm, but there aren't any water sport options for guests. Note that there is no fitness center or on-site spa (although spa treatments are available in-room) and some guests complain of traffic noise in the rooms. The hotel’s single restaurant, The Restaurant at SoCo, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is a la carte and everything is cooked to order. Guests consistently rave about the quality of the food and the variety of choices.
Across the street from the beach, the laid-back Sunset at the Palms has eco-luxe decor, a serene vibe, and great food. This adult-only resort's clientele consists exclusively of couples -- mostly British by our count. Rooms are dark and romantic with large, multihead showers. Dinner is by candlelight, and a singer with an acoustic guitar plays mellow tunes while people eat. The resort is small and offers no real evening entertainment or scheduled events. The mellow vibe of Sunset at the Palms is perhaps most appreciated at the pool, which is surrounded by thick palm trees and centered around a Balinese-style swim-up bar. Nearby, the pool bar spoils guests with top-shelf liquor (as does the lobby bar).
This 30-room, cuisine-focused all-inclusive caters to guests who want to relax in a quiet location. It lacks amenities such as a gym and spa but offers a laid-back vibe among lushly landscaped gardens. The cuisine features locally sourced and organic ingredients prepared for a barrage of meals including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and a four-course dinner. Guests hide out in air-conditioned, cottage-style rooms, snorkel the reefs from the lovely gold-sand beach, and lounge at the pool, where they can also mix their own cocktails at the swim-up bar. All-inclusive rates also include live entertainment and free water sports (hobie-cats, pedals, kayaks, aqua-view boards, and snorkeling equipment).
Stonefield Estate Villa Resort & Spa is an adult-only resort located just outside the town of Soufriere. Most of the 17 rustic-chic villas have large separate living areas and private pools, and all have kitchenettes or full kitchens. The open-air restaurant and pool make the most of the resort’s striking views of Petit Piton and the Caribbean Sea below. Free a la carte breakfast is included in the room rate, and full-board and all-inclusive packages are also available. The resort has a spa and fitness center, but lacks beach access, a downside that it redresses with free shuttle service to nearby beaches.
Mango Bay is a friendly 76-room resort within minutes of shops and restaurants in historic Holetown -- a quick escape for guests when they need a break from their all-inclusive stay. Packages include meals in one indoor/outdoor restaurant (which feels limiting), drinks (bar opens in the morning), nightly entertainment, and activities such as waterskiing and catamaran rides. The beach area can get crowded, but calm waves appeal to swimmers of all ages. Rooms range in size and views, but are spacious and lack the tacky Caribbean decor found in many resorts. Overall, the resort has a casual sophistication that is ideal for groups and romantics looking for an easy vacation.
Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels is located on the west (platinum) coast of Barbados, close to transportation, attractions, and shopping. Guest room decor is stylish and contemporary, the beach is scenic, and the three-tier lagoon-style pool complex is picturesque and inviting. There are two on-site restaurants, including an upscale restaurant with scenic views of the beach and pool and an open-air, informal restaurant that serves lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea. Cave Bar, located on the first tier of the pool, is also a swim-up bar. The all-inclusive option includes all meals, drinks, snacks, and alcoholic beverages, but excludes Champagne and fine wine. Downsides include small rooms, no on-site spa, and general maintenance problems.