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Caribbean All-Inclusive Resorts

Taking Care of All Your Needs in One Place

By K.C. Nash

An all-inclusive resort is an ideal choice if…

Your idea of the perfect vacation is to find a beach where you can lounge the day away until you take a leisurely stroll to get lunch, and then hit the pool or get in a game of tennis before you get ready to dress for dinner.

You like knowing exactly what you are going to be spending and not having to budget a certain amount for restaurants, gratuities, local taxes and activities every day.

You'd like to sample some watersports like snorkelling, windsurfing or kayaking or play tennis every day without having to figure out where to go, how much it will cost, and exactly how to get there.


The all-inclusive concept is simple. You pay one rate for two people staying in a room, and that rate includes all meals, drinks, watersports, activities and entertainment. You don't even need to leave the resort, unless you want to see some historic sights or shop for local handicrafts or art. It's like a cruise ship, only you have easy access to a beautiful beach, there aren't thousands of passengers to get along with, and there's no seasickness involved.

All-inclusive resorts throughout the Caribbean came about as the result of geography. Some resorts were located in remote areas or on their own island, away from towns, restaurants and entertainment. Seeing that guests would have to travel distances to get what they needed, they offered complete packages including all meals and drinks as well as watersports, tennis and other activities.
Even as more restaurants and attractions opened closer to the locations, these resorts found that their concept was a winner. Many guests liked having everything in one place and at one set price, and would return every year, requesting the same room and dates like clockwork. So the all-inclusive structure was here to stay.

Three large international chains-- Club Med, Superclubs and Sandals -- made the concept wildly popular in the Caribbean during the 1970s. They started out as "adults-only" resorts where you could get away from it all in a hedonistic playground run by young organizers who made sure everyone had a really (wink, wink) good time. You were freed from carrying around wallets and purses, because everything was paid for, including as much liquor as you wanted to consume.

Club Med has evolved from those early days, spreading to points all over the globe and offering resorts that were themed or family oriented as well as the adult-only clubs. In the Caribbean, they now operate resorts in Martinique, Guadeloupe, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos. The properties include a wealth of activities, from yoga and Pilates classes to bocce ball, softball and kayaking. They also have specialized clubs for tennis, golf and scuba diving, so everyone gets to follow their bliss in their own special ways. www.clubmed.com

Superclubs now has three brands under their "Super-Inclusive" concept: Grand Lido for couples, Hedonism for adults (with a few "clothing optional"), and Breezes for families with children 14 and under. They have resorts in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Curacao. www.superclubs.com

Sandals has adapted to the times also, keeping its couples-only resorts that appeal to honeymooners and romantics and spinning off a subsidiary titled Beaches to offer family resorts. They now have a total of 12 Sandals in Antigua, the Bahamas, Jamaica and St. Lucia, four Beaches resorts in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos, and the super-luxury, couples-only Royal Plantation in Jamaica. www.sandals.com

International mega-chain Barcelo offers all-inclusive resorts with nine resorts in the Dominican Republic. www.barcelo.com

The RIU chain also offers very large inclusives which they claim are four- and five-stars. They have hotels in the DR, Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica. www.riu.com

Private hotels in the Caribbean offering all-inclusive vacations include:

Antigua

Curtain Bluff " This is the granddaddy of Antigua hotels, located on the southern coast, with 73 rooms, two beaches, two restaurants, four tennis courts, and legendary service. It always ranks in the list of top five resorts in the Caribbean. Families are welcomed. www.curtainbluff.com

Galley Bay " West Indies charm, Tahitian architecture and the natural garden setting makes this 70-room luxury resort a standout. The rooms are in suites and cottages, and 75 percent of them are on the beach. The property also includes two restaurants, two bars, tennis court, pool, fitness center and games room. Children under the age of 16 are not permitted except at Christmas. www.galleybayresort.com

Grand Pineapple Beach " Sprawling above a 1,600-foot white sand beach is this large family-friendly resort. The property includes two pools (one adult only), four tennis courts, a fitness center, a games room, three restaurants and four bars. www.grandpineapple.com

Jumby Bay " A very exclusive resort on its own island off the northern coast, this resort is known for attracting the rich and famous. Accommodations are in rooms and suites as well as villas around the island. They offer great beaches, two restaurants and a host of activities. Families are welcomed, and special programs for children are available. www.jumbybayresort.com

St. James Club - Tucked away on a secluded 100-acre peninsula on the southeastern coast of Antigua, this resort offers six pools (two are adult-only), six tennis courts, a fitness center, four restaurants, a children's area and special kid's activities. Accommodations range from villas to suites to hotel-style rooms. www.stjamesclubantigua.com

Cocobay Resort - Each of the colorful 49 private cottages and 4 plantation houses boasts a private verandah with striking sea views and custom designed wooden furniture. The resort offers a pool, sailing and kayaking, guided nature walks, and a restaurant. Families are welcomed. www.cocobayresort.com

The Verandah - Nestled along Antigua's pristine northeast coast, this eco-friendly luxury resort encompasses 30 spectacular beachfront acres traversed by hiking trails and bordered by Devil's Bridge National Park. The resort is home to the island's largest pool and also offers non-motorized watersports, tennis, a fitness center, three restaurants, and four lounges. The Kid's Club features its own pool and climbing adventure and special activities for teenaged guests. The 200 villa-style two-bedroom suites all feature oversized verandahs with water views. www.verandahresortandspa.com

Aruba

Divi Resorts " The neighboring resorts of Divi Aruba, Tamarijn Aruba, and Divi Village share some amenities, but offer different styles. Divi Aruba includes 203 hotel-style rooms arrayed along the beach and garden, while Tamarijn Aruba sports 236 all-suite accommodations in similar settings. These two resorts offer guests the choice of nine restaurants, seven bars, three pools, non-motorized water sports, bikes, tennis courts, and a sports center with rock climbing wall and fitness center. The family-friendly resorts offer children's activities during weekdays and allow up to two children guests at no charge when accompanied by two adults, except during Christmas. Divi Village accommodates guests in villa-style suites surrounding the golf course. Amenities include 13 restaurants, 11 bars, seven pools, bikes, three tennis courts, the sports center, and golf after 3 p.m. Children can use the kids club at Tamarijn Aruba. www.diviaruba.com

Occidental Grand Aruba - This 398-room resort is set on Aruba's famed Palm Beach and includes accommodations perfect for honeymooners and families alike. The resort includes six restaurants and five bars, a variety of water sports, a free-form pool, an on-site casino and nightly entertainment. www.occidentalhotels.com

Bahamas

Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach " The only all-inclusive resort on Grand Bahama, the Viva Wyndham has 276 guestrooms set on 1,200 square feet of beach. The resort's menu of activities and amenities include tennis, non-motorized watersports, trapeze lessons, fitness center, nightly entertainment, a pool, three restaurants and three bars. A children's program entertains kids between four and 12 years. www.wyndham.com

Barbados

Almond Resorts " Set along Dover Beach, Almond Casuarina Beach offers 280 rooms, including a new adult-only oceanview block. Outside your room, you'll find three restaurants, three pools, beach chairs, tennis, non-motorized watersports, and a fitness center. Almond Beach Village has 395 rooms, five restaurants, 10 pools, two Jacuzzis, aqua cycles and other watersports, a nine-hole golf course and tennis. Both of these resorts offer a full-service nursery as well as activities for children to age 12. The Almond Beach Club & Spa, on the other hand, is adults only. Its 161 rooms surround the gardens, pools, lounges and restaurants and line the coral rock formations along the sea. Guests can choose from three restaurants, three pools, a Jacuzzi, tennis, and watersports. Many of the restaurants throughout the three resorts are available to guests from the other Almond Resorts; a complimentary shuttle provides transportation between the properties. www.almondresorts.com

Barbados Beach Club " This three-star resort is located within walking distance of St. Lawrence Gap. On-property, guests find watersports, tennis, miniature golf, and themed dinner menus at the poolside restaurant. www.barbadosbeachclub.com

Crystal Cove " The resort's 88 guestrooms and suites are nestled on a beachfront cliff on the island's west coast. At the heart of the property, three tiered, free-form lagoon pools unite at the Cave Bar, carved into the rock behind a cascading waterfall. The resort also offers watersports, two tennis courts, two restaurants, two bars, and children's activities. www.crystalcovehotelbarbados.com

Mango Bay - Mango Bay offers 76 beautifully appointed guest rooms, all of which boast furnished balconies or patios. The on-site restaurant serves a mixture of buffet and table d'hote options. Other amenities include a mini-gym, a small beach, a free-form pool, and watersports. Families are welcomed. www.mangobaybarbados.com

Turtle Beach " Located on a stunning 1,500-foot stretch of white sandy beach on the lively South Coast of Barbados, Turtle Beach has 161 non-smoking suites, three restaurants, two pools, a whirlpool, and a children's splash pool, beach concierge service, two tennis courts, a fitness center, watersports, and daily children's programs. A shopping excursion to Bridgetown is also included. www.turtlebeachresortbarbados.com

British Virgin Islands

Biras Creek, Virgin Gorda " Reachable only by boat, this luxury 33-suite resort gives you a feeling of being totally away from the world. It has a great beach, tennis courts, a five-star restaurant, a spa and dinghys that you can use to explore a deserted beach. Children eight years and older are welcomed. www.biras.com

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda " Billing itself as "a rollicking nautical village," this resort has it all for those who love boats. It goes beyond just the regular all-inclusive concept, with unlimited use of Club fleet of over 100 boats, including Lasers, Hobies, Hunters, kayaks, windsurfers and Boston Whalers as well as an Introduction to Sailing course, snorkeling trips, and sunset and dinner cruises. www.beyc.com

Peter Island Resort " This distinctive retreat that occupies the largest private island in the BVI features 20 coves, 1,800 acres of woodlands, five white sand beaches, tennis courts, a watersports pavilion, three restaurants, a pool, a spa and a fitness center. Families can spread out and enjoy themselves completely. www.peterisland.com

Dominican Republic

Casa de Campo " Known as the most complete resort in the Caribbean, this huge complex offers three world class golf courses, 13 tennis courts, nine restaurants, 10 bars, a stable and polo program, a Shooting Centre for wild shooting experiences, a spa, and two pools plus a fantastic beach. Families love it because they offer separate activities programs for teens, tweens, children and toddlers as well as a nannies' service. www.casadecampo.com.do

Paradisus Palma Real " This five-star resort emphasizes all-inclusive luxury, with suites including Jacuzzis, flat panel TVs, marble floors and elegant furnishings. Family concierge suites include a concierge to coordinate family activities, PlayStation in the suite, and kid-friendly appointments like robes, kid-sized towels, a minibar stocked with juices and treats, a milk and cookies turn-down service and more. www.paradisuspalmareal.com

Allegro Puerto Plata " This Occidental resort is surrounded by a Robert Trent Jones golf course and offers two pools, tennis courts, seven restaurants, and scuba instruction on-site. They feature special luxuries in some of the rooms, such as the Royal Club rooms with their own restaurant and pool, concierge services and private check-in. www.occidentalhotels.com

Grenada

Spice Island Beach Resort " This AAA four-diamond boutique resort is family-run. The 32 suites are all beachfront and include a hammock on the private porch. The all-inclusive experience includes golf greens fees, tennis, cycling, non-motorized water sports, and fitness center. The seaside restaurant features Creole and international cuisine as well as vegetarian selections. Children's activities are available for guests aged three to 12. www.spicebeachresort.com

Jamaica

Couples Swept Away " If you're looking for a romantic couples-only resort but you really want to have a lot of activities and stay physically active, this is the place for you. In addition to all meals and drinks, the package includes a free fitness evaluation and plan so you can use the many facilities--including a fully equipped gym, tennis, racketball and squash courts and nearby golf course--and take advantage of classes and instructions at no additional fees. www.swept-away.com

St. Croix

Divi Carina Bay - Located on a quiet stretch of beach, the 180 accommodations at this resort include spacious beachfront guestrooms and deluxe hillside villas. Amenities include four restaurants, four bars, two pools, lit tennis court, fitness center, watersports, and guided snorkel and kayak tours. Each guest also can participate in one round of mini golf and one scuba resort course lesson. Families are welcomed and children under 12 stay free. www.diviresorts.com

St. Lucia

Rendezvous " Styled as a "storybook escape" for couples, this stylish beach resort has 64 rooms and two restaurants, three bars, two pools, two tennis courts, an archery range, gym and spa. www.theromanticholiday.com

The Body Holiday at Le Sport " The emphasis here is on rejuvenation and health, with 155 "oases" or rooms, daily 50-minute health treatments, and classes in yoga and stress management as well as the usual range of watersports and activities. Le Sport is a wonderful spa and is highly recommended. www.thebodyholiday.com

Almond Morgan Bay " Nestled in a private cove, this resort has 340 rooms, including 100 new oceanview rooms and suites. Amenities include four restaurants, four pools (one exclusively for adults and another especially for kids), non-motorized watersports, four lit tennis courts, and a fitness center. Children's programs are available for children from 0 to teen. www.almondresorts.com

Coconut Bay " This single oceanfront resort divides its guests into two groups: Splash is the resort's playful wing with the island's largest water park and children's activities. Harmony is the adults-only wing, featuring a palm shaded pool and bar, chaises and hammocks, intimate cabana beds, and an oceanfront spa. Other amenities include three restaurants, fitness center, tennis center, and whirlpool. www.coconutbayresortandspa.com

Smugglers Cove " This village-style resort is located on its own secluded cove within a 45-acre estate. The 357 rooms are all located in single-story buildings surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Guests can enjoy seven pools (including one adult-only and one especially for kids), four restaurants, afternoon tea, tennis academy, golf, watersports, fitness center, and exercise and dance classes. There is a nursery, children's activities, and a teen center. www.smugglersresort.com

St. Thomas

Bolongo Bay Beach Club " This long-standing favourite in St. Thomas offers 65 beachside rooms as well as studio and 2-bedroom condominium accommodations. It's a complete resort, with a good beach, tennis courts, pool, watersports, and two seaside restaurants. For children 12 and younger, their meals are included in the rate. www.bolongobay.com

St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Petit St. Vincent Resort " On a 113-acre island 40 miles south of St. Vincent is an intimate resort with 22 cottages and an incredible level of privacy and service. Amenities include great beaches with watersports, tennis, and hiking, and access to boats for day charters and scuba diving. Children are welcomed. www.psvresort.com

Palm Island Resort - Nearly half of Palm Island's 43 accommodations are set on the beach; the rest are just a few steps away. The all-inclusive retreat includes your choice of two restaurants, daily afternoon tea, swimming pool, tennis, croquet, table tennis, Palm Island style golf, cycling, shuffleboard and non-motorized water sports. www.palmislandresortgrenadines.com

Tobago

Le Grand Courlan " Tucked away on Tobago's eastern coast, this resort is a four-star luxury retreat. Each of its 78 rooms has a sea view. Catering exclusively to adult guests, amenities include an oversized swimming pool with swim-up bar, lit tennis courts, fitness center, and a choice of three restaurants. www.legrandtobago.com

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Anguilla
Antigua
Aruba
Bahamas
Barbados
Bermuda
Cayman
Curacao
Dominican Republic
Grenada
Grenadines
Jamaica
Mexico
Puerto Rico
St. Barts
St. Croix
St. John
St. Kitts & Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Maarten
St. Martin
St. Thomas
Tobago
Tortola
Turks & Caicos
Virgin Gorda