All-Inclusive Spring Break
Got spring fever? An exotic beach vacation can be a spring-break reality for a flat fee. While many travelers embrace the almighty all-inclusive, others shy away from the idea fearing that quality and even quirkiness will be sacrificed for one set price. There are worries about boring buffet lines, crowded pools and a sea of hotel guests wearing wrist bands doing the conga line on the beach. It's good news that there are so many quality resorts happy to combat these negative stereotypes.
Mega-resorts like Sandals, Beaches, Club Med and SuperClubs may be the usual suspects for the package vacation deals. However, they aren't the only players in the all-inclusive category. Our picks for top all-inclusive hotels challenge misconceptions and woo guests with great food, luxurious accommodations and an array of activities to keep you busy throughout the entire spring break.
This luxury resort invites guests to do everything or do nothing. At St. Lucia's Smugglers Cove, the choices are laid out and included in the room rates. Guests can simply rest on the beach or plan a busy day of snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, playing tennis or just simply resting on the beach. Even green fees are covered for 3 18-hole rounds at the local St. Lucia Golf Course. The included Kids' Club entertains infants to teens with activity centers, playgrounds and a children's pool.
Antigua, West IndiesLucky travelers are whisked away for a quick boat ride to Jumby Bay, a blissful paradise located 2 miles off Antigua's coast. Once there, you can ride bikes around the 300-acre enclave or enjoy old-fashioned cocktails and a game of croquet. Lounge by the seaside infinity pool or spread out on any of the 3 quiet beaches where alabaster sand stretches out to clear sapphire waters teeming with exotic fish and eagle rays. Take out a sunfish for a brisk ride out to sea, but hurry back for lobster risotto with roasted prawns at the State House. This is beachfront sophistication at its finest, all for one set price.
St. James, BarbadosThere are no worries about getting lost in the crowd at Mango Bay, a small resort with the choice amenities generally associated with larger resorts. Guests fill up just 76 rooms, each with a private balcony or patio. Daily rates cover 3 meals, a scrumptious afternoon tea and most beverages. Then there's sailing, kayaking, paddleboats, snorkeling with the sea turtles and a glass bottom boat ride along Barbados' lovely west coast.
Tulum, MexicoLocated near the Mayan ruins and cliffs of Tulum, Amansala Resort is an idyllic spot with white beaches and shady palm trees. But before you climb into the hammock, you'll be working hard at Bikini Boot Camp, an all-inclusive fit getaway for men and women. Group training sessions start in the morning with a jungle power-walk before body-sculpting, palates and yoga. In between workouts, there's time for swimming in the cenotes or trips to the ruins. With fresh and tasty healthy food and a slew of activities, one souvenir you won't bring home from this spring break is extra pounds.
Playacar, MexicoLove is in the air at the Royal Hideaway Playacar in the ever-popular Mayan Riviera. The resort is one of the few in the world to be honored with the AAA 5 Diamond Award, a testament to its phenomenal service (2.2 employees for every guest) and refined setting. During the day, guests feast on fresh guacamole and frozen cocktails alongside the cascading infinity pool. This snack is just a prelude to a gourmet meal at 1 of the 6 restaurants serving European, Asian, Italian and, of course, Mexican food.
Puerto Moreles, MexicoJust outside of Cancun, Azul Sensatori aspires to create the perfect family vacation with connected family suites and kid-friendly activities. The kids' club is stocked with age-appropriate toys and gym equipment for budding tumblers, while teens and tweens climb the rock wall and compete in Wii tournaments. And those adults taking a spring break from the family can opt for a suite with a heated Jacuzzi along the river and an in-room romantic lobster dinner.
Puerto Vallarta, MexicoHike to a jungle waterfall or snorkel through the azure bay at Majahauitas, a private island eco-resort accessible by boat from Puerto Vallarta. Each of the 8 private, solar-powered casitas has an open sitting area with a hammock where you can wake up with a cup of coffee and listen to the parrots singing in the trees. While many activities are included in the price, you may want to bring extra cash for a zip-line canopy tour, fishing and scuba-diving.
Dominican RepublicPunta Cana is a budget traveler's dream with dozens of all-inclusive resorts lining the sandy shores. The Excellence Punta Cana is a choice spot with unlimited food, activities and opportunities for relaxation. There are 8 a la carte dining options, in addition to a breakfast and lunch buffet, and 10 bars serving cool cocktails. And the list of included activities seems endless, with the usual suspects including cooking lessons, beach volleyball, tennis and basketball as well as 30 minutes of free horseback-riding during your stay.
Palm Beach, ArubaAruba may be one of the Caribbean's pricier destinations, but the Westin's classic all-inclusive package can minimize your out-of-pocket vacation costs. The hotel isn't traditionally all-inclusive, but a comprehensive package includes accommodations, 3 meals, most drinks and all non-motorized water sports. Not included is a trip to the hotel's casino, but if Lady Luck is on your side you might even spring for the upgraded beverage plan which includes premium alcoholic beverages. Families can reconnect with some quality together time watching movies under the stars or making a customized pizza for dinner with the resort's chefs at the Westin Little Chefs program.
Negril, JamaicaCouples will dig the hip and intimate all-inclusive Caves carved into Negril's limestone cliffs. The namesake caves create romantic nooks where guests can make reservations to dine or escape to a private hot tub. There are just 12 cliffside rooms, romantic suites with louvered windows that look out at the sea. The all-inclusive package covers 3 meals and house cocktails and wine, but you're on your own for excursions to nearby Negril Beach including scuba, catamaran tours, golf or horseback-riding. Of course, there's no charge for an exhilarating jump from the cliffs followed by a lazy day at the saltwater pool.
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