There’s nothing more enjoyable than a vacation planned with your specific interests in mind. As someone with an endless sense of wanderlust, I love a unique travel experience or an off-the-grid adventure. I’ve climbed Machu Picchu and slept beneath the stars in a Middle Eastern desert and ridden Icelandic ponies through lava fields, and I’d do it all again! However, more often than not I return from PTO more exhausted than when I first departed.
Any adventurer worth their salt is all too familiar with this dilemma. You take time off for a relaxing vacation, but there are just so many exciting things to see out there in this big, beautiful world, and you end up using your remaining energy to go experience all the things, instead of taking the much-needed rest you deserve.
Enter: the all-inclusive resort. Once upon a time, I scoffed at these destinations – why would I want to be at a big hotel when I could have an *authentic* experience elsewhere? But upon further research, I’ve discovered that the all-inclusive resorts of yesteryear have come a pretty long way. Gone are the big box hotels devoid of character (they still exist, of course, but not in quite the same way) and culture-infused, 360 degree experiences for travelers of all budgets and interests have arrived in their place.
Here are the best all-inclusive resorts you should add to your travel list this year.
Are all-inclusive resorts worth it?
Yes, all-inclusive resorts are worth it! Especially for travelers who want to relax and leave most of the logistical planning up to the resort. When staying at an all-inclusive resort, all food, drinks, and on-site activities are typically already paid for, so you can go about your day without worrying about the price tag.
Where do they have the best all-inclusive resorts?
While all-inclusive resorts are traditionally found in the Caribbean, today there are incredible 5-star all-inclusive hotels all over the world! We’ve seen great all-inclusive resorts in South America, Africa, and Asia — as well as the classics in Mexico and the Caribbean islands.
Does US have all-inclusive resorts?
Yes! There are dozens of all-inclusive resorts across every US state. Some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the United States are in Florida, the Southwest (Arizona and Utah), and the Northwest (Montana and Wyoming).
Domestic All-Inclusive Resorts
Miraval in Tucson, Arizona
If your passport has expired or you would simply prefer to stay (relatively) local, consider a domestic all-inclusive experience. While Miraval operates two other resorts in Austin and the Berkshires, we love their original location, which is set in the majestic desert of the Santa Catalina Mountain. You have the option to keep busy with a variety of daily workshops, classes, lectures, and wellness activities, or simply enjoy the resort’s 400+ acres of majestic desert and mountain views.
Bungalows in Key Largo, Florida
The Florida Keys are the closest you can get to the Carribean water without the hassle of going through customs. Of all the locales, Key Largo is the most convenient and best for snorkeling. Bungalows is our recommendation for a luxurious experience, with options for a private waterfront, soaking tub, or outdoor garden shower. Despite being only 90 minutes from Miami, being at this resort truly feels like another world.
Carribean All-Inclusive Resorts
Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia
It’s not possible to mention St. Lucia without instantly thinking of the iconic Jade Mountain Resort, so we figured this was a pretty great place to start. Nestled atop a lush tropical mountain, this stunning hotel features a full view of the beaches and rainforests that surround it — thanks to the strategic absence of a fourth wall.
Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah
When it comes to Utah, nature girls™ already have a running list of bucket list places to see, like Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. Logistically, it makes sense to pick a hotel nearby, and nothing sounds better than a wellness-focused resort with luxe amenities after a long day of hiking. Red Mountain Resort is surrounded by the region’s iconic red rock bluffs and offers kayaking, paddle boarding, guided morning hikes, meditation classes and a yoga studio.
International All-Inclusive Resorts
Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion in Peru
If you’ve ever dreamt of sleeping in a treehouse or visiting the Amazon rain forest, look no further. Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion is a true off-the-grid experience adjacent to the Amazon River. Canoe and make your own chocolate during the day, and take a night walk in the surrounding rain forest and unwind in the new full-service spa in the evening. The best part? Traditional Peruvian breakfast, lunch and dinner with locally-sourced ingredients. IYKYK.
O2 Beach Club & Spa in Barbados
Barbados is home to Rihanna, Ross Geller’s paleontology conference, and now a new hotel to watch: O2 Beach Club & Spa. It’s a boutique hotel with all-inclusive perks (best of both worlds!) that’s located on the dreamy south coast of Barbados. Come for the beach, but stay for the Hammam (aka Turkish bath) treatment – the only one of its kind in Barbados!
Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort in Dominica
Located on the oft-overlooked and underrated island of Dominica, Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort is a new breed of all-inclusives. Their mission is to encourage guests to get off the property so they can experience the island’s many highlights, from hiking and snorkeling to walking tours and visits to local eateries. It’s also one of the region’s top dive resorts!
Marquis Los Cabos in Baja California, Mexico
When it comes to Mexico, Cancun is to our 20s what Los Cabos is to our 30s. It’s the luxe, tranquil escape where the desert mountains meet the Sea of Cortez. This elevated all-inclusive offers sushi and an extensive ceviche menu, as well as a holistic spa that includes one-of-a-kind treatments using crushed diamonds!
Soneva Kiri in Thailand
Thailand may be an extremely long plane flight away, but once you arrive, the crystal clear water more than makes up for the journey. Award-winning hotel chain Soneva has multiple locations throughout Southeast Asia, but their Kiri location in Thailand is a standout. It’s located on Koh Kood, widely regarded as the prettiest island in Thailand, and features 36 beachfront villas, each with their own infinity pool.
Mahali Mzuri in Kenya
For the traveler who wants to get Out There, there’s nothing better than staying right in the center of the action. This action, of course, being Maasai Mara and the path of the Great Migration, one of Kenya’s most incredible safari sights. Travelers will have access to twice-daily game drives and a front row seat to the Big Five.
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Header image via Jade Mountain Resort