There is an impressively large range of all-inclusive resorts in Ocho Rios, a beach resort on Jamaica’s northern coast. You’ve got your beachfront-by-the-numbers-mega-resorts, yes, but also an ultra-extravagant hotel that gives Vegas a run for its money, a large-scale resort that manages to feel crowd-free and even intimate, and an elegant boutique with colonial Caribbean style. Here are the top all-inclusive resorts in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
The family-friendly Moon Palace Jamaica Grande's recent full renovation has put luxury (in droves) into the all-inclusive model, and it shows throughout, from the palatial gates and marble lobby to the 23-room world-class spa to the surf machine and kids' waterpark. The 705 sleek, beach-house-inspired rooms have balconies with water views, and include iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, liquor dispensers, and welcome wine. There are four restaurants, multiple bars, four swimming pools, a huge conference venue, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Water sports include snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, and scuba diving -- but some command fees. Travelers seeking a more intimate luxury experience could try Couples Sans Souci or Jamaica Inn, below.
When travelers think of Sandals, luxury may not come to mind -- indeed, this chain's image is typical of the large-scale all-inclusive experience, and plenty of their resorts are loud and filled with partiers. Sandals Royal Plantation flips that script and does so with sophisticated style. Even in an area replete with luxury resorts, Sandals Royal Plantation stands out with a long list of additional amenities. Among them: four a la carte restaurants (all included in rates) and no buffet dining, a beautiful full-service spa, and arguably the most stunning private beach in Jamaica. The hotel also takes “all-inclusive” seriously by providing unlimited scuba diving, golf, and all water-sports activities. Other freebies include Wi-Fi, parking, and shuttles to Sangster Airport. Despite all these amenities, every common area feels tucked into its own nook or alcove. This creates a feeling of intimacy and seclusion, no matter where guests are on the property -- a feat that's helped by the fact that there are only 74 rooms.
The 148-room Couples Sans Souci is a lushly landscaped property filled with waterfalls, grottos, beaches, and lakes -- but the rooms and many of the public areas could use some cosmetic updates. Mega-resort features are on hand -- three restaurants, four pools, two beaches, four bars, a spa, and tons of free activities. But what differentiates this Couples property from the three others -- and from most other large-scale resorts on the island -- is its lush, unspoiled setting. (The resort even features its own majestic waterfall, which flows directly from a steep slope into the sea.) Couples Sans Souci's rates include more than food and drink (though the cuisine is not as diverse as many other all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, such as the neighboring Sandals Royal Plantation). Extras include excursions, water sports, top-shelf liquor, classes and clinics, off-site tours, airport and activities transfers, and even golf green fees at nearby Upton Golf Course. Additionally, the resort has a no tipping policy, though there are a few instances where it is suggested.
Even travelers who are turned off by the mass appeal of all-inclusive resorts might consider a property like Couples Tower Isle. It's decidedly more sophisticated than competing resorts on the island, such as Sandals Ochi Beach Resort and Breezes, and amenities are refined: There is a zen spa, yoga/spinning studio, and diverse dining options. Perhaps most compelling, though, are the resort's all-inclusive rates, which, like the other Sandals on this list, cover an impressive range of services. Couples' rates include airport transfers, golf green fees, catamaran cruises, glass-bottom boat rides, snorkeling, scuba diving, tennis, horseback riding, and even honeymoon packages with a couples massage and bottle of sparkling wine -- all for free. Of particular note is Couples’ all-inclusive booze policy, which includes the top-shelf liquors in addition to the usual beer, wine, and rum punch. But rooms and hallways here are not on par with the rest of the resort.
Sandals Ochi Beach Resort is a sprawling 110-acre all-inclusive that's popular for weddings and honeymoons, with all-inclusive rates that cover unlimited food at 16 restaurants, room service, alcohol, and tips. Sandals Ochi Beach Resort's 100-plus acres are put to good use with seemingly endless features. Limitless scuba diving is free, while scuba certification is offered for a fee. Other water sports include snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, and paddleboarding. Glass-bottom boat rides are on offer as well (reservations required). On land, there are swimming pools (seven in all), tennis courts, croquet, billiards, and beach volleyball. Entertainment includes everything from cocktail parties to talent shows to impromptu beach parties. The beach is small considering the size of property, though; Tower Isle's Given Couples Tower Isle enjoys a relatively isolated strip of sand that is both deep and uncrowded.
Unlike the other properties on this list, Jamaica Inn isn't a true all-inclusive property, though it does offer all-inclusive rates -- at a steep upcharge. But for travelers wanting elegant Caribbean style and a relaxed atmosphere, this charming, 52-room beachfront resort stands out amid the many mega-resorts and boisterous all-inclusives that are packed in along the Ocho Rios coast. The decor here is a lovely blend of colonial Caribbean elements and tastefully modern tropical accents. Though Jamaica Inn is only a stone’s throw off the busy A3 thoroughfare, the property is quiet and relaxed -- an ethos that's given an assist by the lack of TVs anywhere on the grounds. Couples San Souci has a somewhat intimate atmosphere but is truly all-inclusive, with free top-shelf booze, Wi-Fi, meals, water sports (including scuba diving), excursions, and airport transportation.
For those in search of a massive resort that feels like a town unto itself and leaves little reason to venture beyond its gates, look no further -- this massive beachfront mega-resort fits the bill for what many travelers have in mind in an all-inclusive vacation. But note that this isn't the most stylish hotel on Jamaica's north shore (though, to be fair, there aren't many of those). Inside and out, it’s cavernous, and it’s hard not to feel like just another nameless guest. The wide beach and two large pools provide expansive social space, and with bars set up throughout the property, there’s a constant, lively, party-centric atmosphere. Guests enjoy all-inclusive dining via several restaurants; the all-inclusive rates also include in-room minibars and liquor dispensers. But with nearly 850 rooms and limited seating at the five specialty restaurants, securing dinner reservations can prove frustrating.