Crammed swimming pools. Long lines at the dinner buffet. Rowdy crowds fueled by cheap liquor.
If these are the images that come to mind when you think of all-inclusive experiences, think again. A new wave of vacations are offering sophisticated perks and out-of-the-box experiences, all for one convenient flat rate.
Forget the headache of being handed a bill significantly higher than you bargained for. At these destinations, meals, drinks and activities are part of the deal, so you know exactly how much you will pay before ever stepping foot on a plane.
Traveling with friends or family? Enjoy the fact that there will be no uncomfortable moments dividing restaurant checks and figuring out who pays for what.
There are numerous all-inclusive resorts located on stunning tropical beaches where guests rarely leave the property. The more adventurous traveler may want to consider a potentially transformative journey such as an African safari, dogsledding adventure in Minnesota or sailing the Maine coast on a wooden boat.
Here are 15 all-inclusive vacation options to suit a variety of travelers. All offer excellent bang for the buck, and boast superlative ratings and reviews.
Dude Ranch Holiday: 4Ur Ranch, Colorado
Rates include: lodging, all meals, private fly-fishing, personalized horsemanship program and many other activities
Enjoy a taste of the Wild West at 4Ur Ranch in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, a hit with travelers that’s garnered a rare 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Horseback riding is the star of this vacation, ideally following by a dip in soothing natural hot springs. Looking for options off the saddle? Consider fly-fishing, hiking or gathering around the campfire for s’mores.
Guests stay in one of four cabins, all with porches boasting stunning views from comfy rocking chairs. Nightly turndown service and morning coffee delivered to the room are welcome touches.
Meals are laidback affairs, in tune with the casual feel of the ranch. The chef takes pride in utilizing locally sourced produce, and can be found cooking trout fillets by the stream.
Vacation with the Kids: The Tyler Place, Vermont
Rates include: spacious accommodations, meals, activities and extensive infant, toddler and children’s programs
The Tyler Place is a low-key resort in Vermont’s Green Mountains, a respite from the hustle of urban life. Wide-open spaces and strategically placed hammocks provide a spot to unwind and immerse yourself in the natural world.
Overwhelmed by the thought of vacationing with your little one? Babies up to age 1 are assigned a personal helper to escort them to an infant playroom or to a spot outdoors for developmentally appropriate play. Free from their kiddos, parents have time to enjoy biking, hiking and tennis.
Also appealing to frazzled parents: if you forget to pack your stroller or playpen, the resort can provide you with loaner gear.
It’s no wonder The Tyler Place has been singled out as one of the world’s best family-friendly vacation spots by “National Geographic Travel,” “Family Vacation Critic” and “MSN Travel.”
The resort is seasonal, open from late May through early September, so plan accordingly.
Spa Getaway: The Lodge at Woodloch, Pennsylvania
Rates include: meals, activities and a wide variety of exercise classes
The Lodge at Woodloch, set on 150 rolling acres in Northeast Pennsylvania, is a sanctuary of soaking pools, hydro-massage areas and eucalyptus-scented steam rooms. Treatments focus on natural ingredients, incorporating therapies from across the globe with indigenous elements.
Three daily meals are included in the rate. And while this is spa cuisine, there’s no deprivation. Each meal is a multi-course feast of perfectly sized portions enhanced with herbs and produce grown in the property’s onsite garden.
This gorgeous spa retreat has been rated the #1 hotel in New York State and the Mid-Atlantic in the “Condé Nast Traveler” Readers’ Choice Awards.
Caribbean R&R: Curtain Bluff, Antigua
Rates include: meals, top-shelf bar drinks, and activities such as scuba diving and waterskiing
Situated on 20 acres on the south coast of Antigua, Curtain Bluff is a seashell’s throw away from not one but two sandy beaches, and touts the views to match: all 72 luxurious accommodations overlook the sea.
The resort recently unveiled a major renovation, so everything is in tip-top shape. But it’s also rich with history.
Howard Hulford opened the resort in 1962 and lived here until his death in 2009. His wife Chelle still lives on property, greeting guests like old friends and hosting the resort’s weekly cocktail party at her home. The resort has had the same manager for the last 25 years.
Known for its value, Curtain Bluff boasts an impressive 65% repeat-guest ratio, and has twice been named a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winner, including in 2019. Most of the staff is from the village just outside the property, so expect a local welcome.
African Safari: Micato Safaris
Rates include: accommodations, meals, park fees, wine and beer, valet laundry service and Wi-Fi where available.
For vacationers seeking extraordinary wildlife encounters, an African safari is the trip of a lifetime.
Micato Safaris is a family-owned tour operator specializing in small group and customized African safaris. They offer itineraries to Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa and Rwanda. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, viewing the Serengeti Plains and staying at tented camps can all be part of the unforgettable experience.
Though a Micato Safari is not cheap, it is an excellent value. Absolutely everything, including hotels, meals, beverages, park fees and transfers, is included in the price. Even medical attention from East Africa’s famed Flying Doctors, who will fly to the most remote corners of the continent to provide patient care, is included should a participant need medical attention. Micato also goes above and beyond with a concierge available 24 hours per day for all guest needs.
This special care has not gone unnoticed. “Travel & Leisure” has named Micato the World’s #1 Best Safari Outfitter nine times over.
Seafaring Adventure: Windjammer Cruise, Maine
Rates include: all meals and lodging on board
To savor Maine’s dramatic coastal scenery, book a trip on a Windjammer Cruise. The cruise company has been named a “USA Today” Readers’ Choice winner for very good reason.
These 3-6-night seafaring adventures take place, charmingly, on a wooden sailboat. The unstructured itinerary is determined the old-fashioned way, by weather, wind and tides.
The rhythms of shipboard life are punctuated by three delectable daily meals. Expect stops to explore the fishing villages that dot the coastline, with plenty of time for beachcombing.
The Maine Windjammer Association provides a fleet of eight vessels. The 22-passenger "Stephen Taber" was launched in 1871, making it the oldest documented sailing vessel in continuous service in the United States. Time spent on board the "Stephen Taber" is about relishing simple pleasures, so while it’s very comfortable, it’s not fancy.
Windjammer cruises are an excellent value. The price includes everything, except for your crew’s deserving tip at the end of the journey.
All boats set sail May-October.
Romantic Getaway: TRS Yucatan Hotel, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Rates include: meals, beverages, butler service, and activities such as windsurfing and yoga
The Palladium Hotel Group’s TRS Yucatan Hotel is an adult-only oasis that was completely renovated in 2017. It offers a contemporary approach to the all-inclusive experience, with an eye towards romance.
Romance Bungalows are spacious and luxurious, featuring large terraces overlooking the lake, hammocks, personal kayaks and outdoor showers. Butlers providing the ultimate in pampering can draw a bubble bath for two, lay rose petals across the bed or provide room service any time of day or night.
The onsite spa will melt away any lingering tension. Consider booking the romantic moonlight couples massage, complete with a flute of Champagne.
Midnight swims in the pool and late-night soaks in the hot tub are also highly recommended at this property Booking.com and TripAdvisor have singled out for excellence.
Yoga Retreat: Kripalu, Massachusetts
Rates include: accommodations, meals and yoga classes
A yoga retreat in the Berkshires may not be everyone’s idea of vacation fun, but for those looking to recalibrate, there’s no better option. (“USA Today” has named this one of the world’s 10 best yoga retreats.)
Kripalu’s signature package offers a flexible program with the opportunity to practice as much or as little yoga as you desire. The rate includes a basic room with a private bath, multiple daily yoga classes, workshops and the use of amenities like a rejuvenating sauna. There is Wi-Fi but no televisions.
Many different styles of yoga are practiced here, including restorative, Vinyasa and yoga dance. There’s a class to suit every level, from novices to advanced students.
Three healthy meals are part of the daily deal. Food is served buffet-style with meat and vegan options available. Expect hot entrees, a bountiful salad bar, homemade bread and dessert. Produce and milk are sourced from nearby farms.
Old-Fashioned Elegance: Mohonk Mountain House, New York
Rates include: room, meals, and activities such as ice-skating and boating
Mohonk Mountain House is a traditional resort located on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge just 90 miles from New York City. Last year, in the “Conde Nast Traveler” Readers’ Choice Awards, it was named one of the top resorts in New York State and in the Mid-Atlantic.
This Victorian castle surrounded by miles of unspoiled wilderness is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Three daily meals highlight the Hudson Valley’s rich agricultural heritage. Afternoon tea and most resort activities are included in the rate.
Active options take full advantage of the resort’s rustic location. Hike the trails, fish or kayak in the clear lake, or venture out for a horseback ride. Still not tired? Hit the tennis courts, golf course or indoor pool.
In winter, the snow-covered grounds beckon cross-country skiers, while ice-skaters may take a spin around the covered outdoor rink.
Dogsledding Adventure: Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, Minnesota
Rates include: meals, lodging, guides, outfitting and trail fees
This winter, why not bundle up and learn to drive a team of Canadian Eskimo dogs over the Minnesota ice and snow?
Wintergreen is a family-run lodge devoted exclusively to dogsledding. Guests learn to drive their own team of dogs, with opportunities to feed and romp with the animals. The adorable resident pups are well cared for and appear genuinely excited to pull the sled. The lodge welcomes guests of all ages.
Located in a remote corner of the state, the frosty grounds are both peaceful and staggeringly beautiful. Overnight visitors stay in lakeshore lodges connected by snow-capped trails. The simple accommodations are designed with comfort in mind, and a communal Finnish sauna adds a restorative note.
There’s a convivial feel here, with guests and guides dining together on wholesome foods served family-style.
No surprise here: PBS has named Wintergreen one of the six best adventure lodges in the U.S.
Natural Immersion: Elk Lake Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains, New York
Rates include: lodging, meals, non-motorized boating and miles of hiking trails
Elk Lake Lodge – which “National Geographic” has named one of the best lake lodges in the world – is ideal for those seeking a wilderness immersion without the discomfort of sleeping in a tent.
The property is situated on 12,000 acres of privately owned forest preserve in the Adirondack Mountains. There are no televisions, cell phone service or motorized boats on the lake, so a low-tech ethos rules. The resort is seasonal, open each May through early October.
Kayaks, canoes and rowboats dot the crystal-clear lake and are available to all guests. Fish, swim or just soak in the views and appreciate the serenity.
Stay in one of six simple rooms in the main lodge or one of eight private cottages. Activities and meals are included in the rate.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the lakeside dining room. Lunch is packed in a paper bag for an al fresco meal.
Italian Hospitality: Villa Rodriguez, Elba, Italy
Rates include: room and three meals daily
No one knows how to vacation better than Italians do. And no Italian all-inclusive is more inviting than Villa Rodriguez, on the island of Elba, where guests are treated like long-lost relations. The gorgeous property has been stamped with a TripAdvisor 2018 Certificate of Excellence.
Located off the Tuscan coast, Elba is a treasure trove for history buffs. There are glorious Etruscan and Roman ruins around the island, but it's awfully tempting to just lie in a chaise longue and swim in the sea.
Three homemade meals are included each day at Villa Rodriguez, with seafood just plucked from the sea frequently appearing on the menu. A bell rings when it’s dinnertime and the fresh feast begins.
This small, seasonal, family-run hotel is the perfect place to experience a dash of la dolce vita.
Mediterranean Tour: Princess Cruise
Rates include: meals, shipboard activities and entertainment
There’s no easier way to take a grand tour of Europe than on a cruise ship. Passengers stop in a different port city each day, but without the hassle of packing their bag and lugging their suitcase around from city to city. It’s one big, beautiful floating hotel.
Princess is particularly well-known for the quality of its itineraries and shore excursions – “Recommend Magazine” has singled out its itineraries as among the best in the world 12 times over – and the line's 10-day Classic Mediterranean package proves why.
Visit seven ports of call, including Salerno, Messina, Dubrovnik, Kotor (Montenegro), Corfu, Corsica and Toulon. Select from a wide assortment of shore excursions or engage in independent sightseeing. The trip starts in Rome and ends in Barcelona (or vice versa), so the sights of these cities may be explored before and after the cruise.
On board, you’ll bask in the glow of attentive service, lavish meals, nonstop entertainment and numerous recreational options.
Family Beach Vacation: Beaches Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Rates include: unlimited dining, premium spirits, kids camp, airport transfers, water sports and instruction
It’s hard to mention family resorts without including Beaches. This Caribbean-owned company was a pioneer in the all-inclusive concept and has continued to take the experience to the next level.
The Beaches Ocho Rios property is situated on the Caribbean Sea, a tropical paradise for families, and has been named the best family hotel in the Caribbean by AAA.
Tough-to-please teens have their own lounge and age-appropriate activities, while younger kids can romp with Sesame Street characters. Infants spend time in a sparkling clean childcare facility, where everything is perfectly pint-sized. All the while, parents may enjoy kid-free time knowing their offspring are well cared for.
All this, plus off-property excursions are available to guests who would like to explore this beautiful island.
Experiential Tours: Naya Traveler
Rates include: accommodations, transportation, host and expert guides, daily private activities, some meals and the services of a professional team monitoring the trip 24/7
For travelers interested in taking a deeper dive into foreign cultures, immersive experiences allow for a more meaningful understanding of a destination. Engaging in the local culture and meeting its people helps a trip resonate long after you’ve returned home.
Naya Traveler crafts itineraries to culturally rich destinations, including Argentina, Antarctica, Brazil, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kashmir & Ladakh, Morocco, Myanmar, Oman, Peru and South India.
If you’ve ever been on a guided group tour where you share one guide with a large group and are herded around like a flock of sheep, Naya Traveler will be a pleasant surprise.
Guides and tour leaders know their destinations from the inside, having experienced the country on a personal level. Mindful itineraries are marked by carefully set rhythms that allow travelers to see, encounter, experience and be present.
Naya has been applauded by experts in “Departures,” “Robb Report,” “Travel + Leisure” and “Elle Magazine,” among many others.