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5 All-Inclusive Resorts That Don't Feel Like All-Inclusive Resorts

August 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM | by | ()

All-inclusive Resorts used to be a cheap, spring break vacation where you sipped sugary drinks in plastic cups and shuffled through buffet lines filling up on nachos, burgers and something exotic called spaghetti bolognese. Looks like those days are a-changin’.

In a time where people (even the well-heeled) are demanding more bang for their vacation buck, many all-inclusives resorts are making a comeback, and bringing their A game.

Today you’ll see gourmet restos, free golf and even spa treatments added into the mix to lure discerning travelers to their now well-manicured grounds.

Check out these five luxury resorts that are so sleek, you’d barely know that one-price-pays-for-all.

Part of the Palace Resort chain, this is the swankest of the 12 hotels namely because it has all suites and is adults-only (18+). Even Javier Bardem and Shakira have bypassed the five-star Ritz-Carlton and jumped on the AI bandwagon. Yes, wrist bands are a must, our only poutable issue, but at least they are clear, and not some garish color.

We do like the Miami-style vibe and layout of the place—white opium beds, infinity pools. Better yet, there’s no need to clamor around the bar every time you want a drink as suites have full-bottles of top-shelf liquor to self-pour from Johnnie Walker Black to Gran Centenario Reposado tequila along with a fridge full of mixers and beer.

Add the free 25-minute spa treatment taster per guest (3-night stay required) the room’s double Jacuzzi, iPod docking station and 24-hour room service and it’s real hard to pay attention to the party going on outside.
Rates begin at $300 per person/per night.

The VERANDA RESORT & SPA, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
It's almost as if you're in your own home instead of a sprawling resort at this 123-room property that’s as posh as the island’s British roots. Well, that’s if your home is a decked out sprawling bedroomed condo laced with a top-of-the-line stainless steel-and-granite kitchen, on 12 miles of prime, white sand beach.

The trick about choosing an all-inclusive is making sure you’ll be using the activities before you sign up for the stay. Here, that includes all meals, drinks (boozy and non), and non-motorized water sports. It’s also thankfully divided into two sections, adults and family, although brace yourself for some rowdy grown-ups.
Rates begin at $544 per room, per night.

On first entrance to this royal-like residence (it’s owned by real knight Sir Royston Hopkin, so we can make that cutesy alliteration) you’d think there’s no way it could be an all-inclusive. We find that the more intimate the resort, the more enjoyable experience seems to be and Spice’s 64 suite haven keeps it quality.

Despite being over 20 years old, the décor remains well kept. Another plus, there’s no day-to-night thumping steel band or throngs of crowds chugging rum punches in the pool. Instead, it’s a very quiet and genteel environment where food is served a la carte, though there is a Caribbean buffet to make people remember they are actually on an West Indian island. But yeah, there’s daily afternoon tea, too. Can’t get too wild, now.
Rates begin at $860, per room, per night..

At first glance the tab on this place might seem expensive for an all-inclusive, but when you add up what’s the throw in--scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, waterskiing, sailing and more—the resort is truly high class and pays for itself if you’re the active sort. Again, this isn’t the place for the beer-chugging, body-shot sort, so if that’s your thing, look elsewhere.

In fact, if you haven’t got a pair of Top-Siders (Antigua attracts a sailing crowd) or a mass of Polos in your wardrobe, consider looking elsewhere for your vacation fun. We’re not hating on the chummy, ritzy scene, but that’s what you’re getting here, so get ready to rub elbows with yachty types over endless plates of spiny lobster.
Rates begin at $715 per room, per night.

The name “Sandals” was recently added to this properties name, but by no means is it an overwhelming schmaltzy honeymooners resort. With only 74 rooms, you get an intimate, white glove and butler treatment, to the tune of, well…your very own white-gloved butler who is there to do your every bidding from unpacking your bags, setting up tee times (golf is included) and even mixing you a drink from your full-bottled, top-shelf liquor stocked bar.

And with all those drinks flowing, we can't guarantee you won't take advantage of the free wedding program the resort offers for guests staying more than six nights. Not that you need liquid courage for that, right?
Rates begin at $606 per person, per night.

[Photos: Le Blanc, Veranda, Spice Island, Curtain Bluff and Loren Sztajer/Flickr]

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