When massive all-inclusive resorts, some with 2,000 rooms, began to pop up on beaches in the 1950s, they quickly earned a bad rap; their names became synonymous with booze cruises, bad buffet restaurants, and anything-goes behavior.
These days, the industry is renovating not only its properties, but its image. Adam Stewart, son of Sandals Resorts founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart, is transforming what was recently a Four Seasons into an all-villa, all-suite resort. “We could have stopped after we added three restaurants, a patisserie, and a swim-up bar, but we didn’t,” he says of the latest addition to the 22-property chain. “But we’re also upgrading the service, introducing white-gloved butlers, and adding indoor-outdoor showers.”
Sandals Resorts is just one of the brands—from Turks and Caicos down to Barbados—introducing luxurious amenities to appeal to travelers with high expectations. At the best new all-inclusive resorts, you can treat yourself to a horseback ride on the beach or a second helping of steamed lobster, no extra charge.
Sandals Royal Plantation
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Number of Rooms: 74
Entry-Level Rate: $845 per person, double
Unexpected Inclusions: Butler service; greens fees.
The Vibe: Don’t want to think for yourself? At this super-luxe spot, the butler does it for you.
Couples Tower Isle
Number of Rooms: 226
Entry-Level Rate: $350 per person, double
Unexpected Inclusions: Snorkeling; scuba certification; sunset catamaran cruises.
The Vibe: Calling all social butterflies: the party is on the beach.
Veranda Resort & Residences
Number of Rooms: 123
Entry-Level Rate: $420 per person, double
Unexpected Inclusions: Kite-surfing; 24-hour concierge service; top-shelf liquor.
The Vibe: For style-seekers who think all-inclusive is a dirty word.
Now Jade Riviera Cancún
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Number of Rooms: 550
Entry-Level Rate: $220 per person, double
Unexpected Inclusions: Bungee jumping; watersports; activity program for children ages three–12.
The Vibe: An adventure for all ages.
Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancún
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Number of Rooms: 412
Entry-Level Rate: $351 per person, double
Unexpected Inclusions: Sailing; greens fees at nearby Playa Paraiso Golf Club.
The Vibe: Swim-up bars—and swim-up suites—it’s an aquatic paradise.
Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa
Number of Rooms: 615
Entry-Level Rate: $386 per person, double
Unexpected Inclusions: Diving excursions; wind surfing; a Martha Stewart craft center.
The Vibe: Is that the entire cast of Sesame Street dancing on the sand? Yes, yes it is.