Wow, defo going to try some of these out…!
The pros of an all-inclusive vacation are pretty straightforward: you don’t have to lift a finger, carry a wallet, or make a single decision more difficult than “pancake or waffle?” And the trade-off for that luxury? Well, unfortunately, it often means you’re drinking cheap booze, eating at stale buffets, and fighting a hundred other guests for the last two beach chairs.
Lucky for you, though, not every all-inclusive resort is created equal: in fact, some single-price spots rival the most luxurious five-star properties. And we found 11 of them.
Domincal, Costa Rica
Courtesy of Kalon Surf
This is a surf school with a twist — as in, you’re not sleeping in a dirty hostel and getting pummeled by waves while a distracted instructor flirts with the hot girl in class. At Kalon, when you’re not on the water or waxing your stick (it’s a surfing term!), you’re enjoying an ocean-view room, a massage, and a locally sourced meal. That or studying their video analysis of your surfing skills.
Courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs
Formerly an abandoned 19th-century ghost town, Dunton was transformed into a luxurious all-inclusive resort by an intrepid German businessman. The property features 12 stylishly rustic cabins — some which were originally miners’ digs — as well as a restored saloon, a spa, and some of the best indoor and outdoor hot springs in the world. Typical activities include fly fishing, horseback riding, and hiking/biking in the summer, and snowshoeing, dog sledding, and skiing in the winter.
courtesy of Tanque Verde Ranch
It’s the rugged life of a cowboy, minus the rugged. This upscale, Western-style dude ranch and spa caters to those who want to spend their days horseback riding through the desert, and their evenings getting a deep-tissue massage. Dinners are communal and sometimes themed, as in Mexican Fiesta Night, or weekly BBQ and live tunes. And not only are the rooms TV-less, you can even ask them to turn off the wifi if you really want to go off the grid.
courtesy of nizuc resort and spa
In Cancun, all-inclusive resorts are as common as Spring Breakers doing tequila shots. But you won’t have to deal with any of that at Nizuc. The swanky resort has two private beaches and only 274 rooms — practically a B&B by Cancun standards — many of which rock their own private infinity pools. And forget the tasteless buffet: there are six different upscale restaurants on the property to choose from.
Courtesy of Red Mountain Resort
Flanked by an ochre desert and towering cliffs, this resort for sporty types features an army of health gurus, a holistic spa, and fitness classes ranging from Tai Chi to Bootie Beats, which is of course where all the ladies will be shaking their tail feathers. Maybe? And, because RMR’s all about living strong, breakfast/lunch buffets are designed to boost energy while dinner is mostly low-cal.
Pari, Thimpu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang, Bhutan
These five resorts span Bhutan, the last Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom. Some are perched on 7,000ft peaks, others nestled in lush valleys, but getting an all-inclusive deal at any one allows you to hop between them all. Their minimalist digs are the height of luxury, and to prove it, stay for seven nights and they’ll even throw in a private car and driver. Which, you can ride around in when you’re not hiking to temples and monasteries, playing golf, whitewater rafting, or practicing your archery.
courtesy of explora Patagonia
Hot tubs, gourmet meals, and adrenaline pumping thrills, all in the heart of a Biosphere Reserve? Sign us up. In fact, stay at the Explora Lodge and you’ll be signing up for one of 50 different hikes, horseback rides, or boat outings. The hotel features only 49 rooms, most with views of the Paine Massif and Salto Chico waterfall, but none with TV or wifi. This place is all about experiencing the “real joys of life,” so consider yourself warned.
Courtesy of Howie’s Homestay
If you feel right at home here (you’re encouraged to grab whatever you want from the kitchen), it’s because American expat Howie and his wife built their dream home, and only later turned it into their dream resort. You and your group will have the private villa, which was featured in Architectural Digest mind you, and its four bedrooms entirely to yourself… except that Howie will be there as your caretaker/host/chef/guide. So, not at all to yourself.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
The term “glamping” is pretty awful but, unfortunately, it’s probably the best way to describe this private game reserve. Swanky suites (only 26 people can stay here at any given time) come with Nespresso machines and champagne-filled minibars, as well as private terraces and outdoor showers. Some even have pools. Expect gourmet meals, daily game drives, walks in the bush, and sunset cocktails at the Tree-House Pub. Just, whatever you do, don’t use the word “glamping.”
Courtesy of Dedon Island
Known as “Cloud 9” to the surfing elite for its amazing waves, Dedon Island has become just that for travelers in search of the luxe life. The nine-villa property — owned by former Bayern Munich goalie Bobby Dekeyser — features an outdoor cinema, yoga and surfing classes (among a ton of other outdoor activities), and a spa, as well as meals prepared by a private chef with ingredients from the resort’s own organic farm.
courtesy of beall + thomas photography
Set on 9,200 acres at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, this 69-room working farm has its own creamery, bakery, charcuterie… and brewery! Yep, they brew small-batch craft suds like the Classic Saison, Farm Ale Pale Ale, and Screaming Cock Dubbel. Wait, it gets better. Elaborate farm-to-table meals are all homegrown and served in a converted barn (seriously, this place is a hipster’s paradise!) paired with an inordinate number of wines. There are also cooking and cheese making courses and beer/whiskey/wine tastings. Plus skeet shooting!
For more fabulous five-star properties, check out Le Royal Resorts & Hotels by Sir Nadhmi Auchi