11 incredible all-inclusives for people who hate all-inclusives
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Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking your next trip. We’ll be here to help you prepare, whether you’re travelling next month or next year.
Let’s face it: Over the years, all-inclusive resorts have earned a bad rap with travellers. Images of spring breakers, lacklustre buffets and tacky decor might come to mind. But recently, a new generation of luxury all-inclusive properties has emerged. And let me tell you, these all-inclusive resorts are seriously reimagining the genre.
Whether you want to go skiing and cave spelunking in Iceland, snorkelling and diving in Fiji or hiking and marshmallow-roasting in Tennessee, there’s an upscale all-inclusive for every type of traveller — and these 11 resort destinations are guaranteed to make you a convert.
For travellers ready to escape to nature
Deep inside Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is Puku Ridge, the new all-inclusive safari destination of your dreams that opened at the end of 2019. Chiawa Safaris and Chichele Safaris have teamed up to open this conservation property comprising eight glamorous tents with private pools, rooftop stargazing and all the high-end amenities you could need while on the lookout for wildlife.
Professional viewing drives and bush walks to see elephants and lions are included, as are airport transfers, meals, beverages and laundry. Just keep in mind, guests must pay a steep $110 (£84) tourism, conservation and carbon collection fee per person, per night.
The details: Rates begin at $788 (£598) per person, per night, on off-peak dates.
Twin Farms is New England charm personified. An hour and a half from Burlington, Vermont, this all-inclusive is perfect for travellers who want to enjoy nature at any season you choose. Cosy fireplaces and hot chocolate are ready throughout your stay during the winter, while summer stays are punctuated by s’mores and nature walks.
Come to practice tennis, Japanese Furo, snowshoeing or one of the dozen nature-based activities included in your stay. After a full day outside, bask in the comfort of your private hot tub cottage or two-level barn. Each accommodation is unique and filled with character.
The details: Rooms typically start around $2,000 (£1,519) per night.
For travellers who want to relax
Bungalows Key Largo, the only all-inclusive in the Florida Keys, has mastered the art of chill. A newly reopened adults-only property where relaxation is the goal is pretty easy to achieve. Drive one hour south from Miami, and you’ll have a margarita in hand watching manatees float by. Spend time biking around the island, or reading a book on a lounge chair by the pool.
There are 135 bungalows decorated in shades of white and turquoise to match the ocean outside your door. Choose between a garden bungalow or an oceanfront bungalow — either way, they’ll have a luxurious outdoor tub. All meals, drinks, water sports and yoga classes are included.
The details: Rates start at $449 (£341) per person, per night, based on double occupancy.
A private island escape, anyone? At Kokomo Private Island in Fiji, every guest arrives via seaplane or helicopter to a welcome song from the warm staff. The luxury villas here are massive and boast Fijian touches, private beach access and ocean views. All meals are included, from their sumptuous breakfast buffet to handmade pizza and ice cream to fresh fish curry. Just remember, alcohol is not a part of the package.
The island’s long stretches of beach are perfect for soaking in the sunshine all day long. But if you feel like getting up from your lounge chair, many of the island’s nonmotorized activities are also included like snorkelling, banana boat rides, sea trampoline, sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding.
The details: A three-bedroom residence starts at $6,900 (£5,240) — so be sure to bring along at least eight other travellers with you to offset the cost. You can also book this property through the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts programme. If you have The Platinum Card from American Express, you can book a paid stay through that portal and enjoy perks like free daily breakfast for two, a space-available room upgrade, late checkout and early check-in (when available) as well as an up to $100 property credit.
For travellers seeking adventure
On the remote Troll Peninsula of Northern Iceland sits an elegant turf-roofed lodge with 13 stylish bedrooms. Deplar Farm is part of Eleven Experiences, a brand with incredible all-inclusive lodges around the world designed for adventure seekers. Each guest gets an experience manager to tailor-make an activity schedule (think: heliskiing in the winter and fishing in the summer, both of which are included).
Nearly everything at Deplar Farm is a part of your package, such as a soak in their Isopod flotation tanks. Gourmet meals are served at a communal table for all guests and, afterwards, enjoy a soak in their thermal pool with a cocktail in hand as the northern lights dance across the sky.
The details: Rates start around 328,000 Icelandic króna (£1,812) per room — or you can buy out the entire property.
For travellers in search of total seclusion
The Atacama Desert is one of the best places on Earth to go stargazing. At Tierra Atacama, nightly stargazing is included in the price of a room — as are daily excursions to see geysers in the Andes and flamingos in the salt flats.
Here, astronomer lovers can visit a tourist observatory nightly to see the stars, weather permitting, and view Saturn, shooting stars and other galaxies. Before your 9 p.m. stargazing excursion, try a variety of Chilean wines served at every meal to pair perfectly with steak and pico de gallo, or any item on their rotating multicourse all-inclusive menu.
The details: Mid-season rates for a two-night stay (the minimum) begin at $1,600 (£1,216) per person.
Does it get any more remote than a private-island retreat off the coast of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast? Not really.
Travellers here can book one of four beachfront suites (the resort can only accommodate eight guests at a time) for a blissfully crowd-free stay. And you won’t spend any time fretting over ancillary fees either, because everything — your meals, beverages and activities — are included. Consider spending your days fishing (deep-sea, spearfishing, lobster diving and Nicaraguan line fishing), hopping around the Pearl Cays, kayaking or paddleboarding, scuba diving or snorkelling and picnicking on the beach. You can also file this property under: One of the most relaxing places on Earth.
The details: Rooms here routinely sell for over $2,000 (£1,519) a night, but Calala Island is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), meaning you can book with Hyatt points for a total steal.
For travellers who want to get fit
Three hours off the coast of Singapore, Bawah Reserve is an eco-haven for travellers on a wellness journey. Arriving via seaplane to this group of six islands, your blood pressure instantly drops. One spa treatment a day is included with your stay, a rarity in the all-inclusive world. All meals featuring healthy dishes like poke bowls, organic granolas, homemade yoghurt and fresh juices are covered.
Oceanside morning yoga or pilates classes are available, and there’s an indoor and outdoor gym. Watersports like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkelling and hiking throughout the island are included. If you’re looking for something specific when it comes to your wellness experience, tell the staff, and they’ll arrange everything. The only things not included are alcohol, motorized sports and transfers.
The details: A one-bedroom garden suite will cost $1,780 (£1,352) per person, per night based on double occupancy.
One of the year’s most-anticipated hotel openings, Miraval has just debuted its third all-inclusive wellness retreat on 380 acres of land in the scenic mountain region of western Massachusetts.
There’s no shortage of diversions for active travellers, who can split their time between an 18-hole golf course, hiking trails in the surrounding forest, an equine program and the 29,000-square-foot Life in Balance Spa. There are 28 treatment rooms and an indoor pool reserved for water-based treatments.
The details: Standard rooms start at 45,000 World of Hyatt points per night (plus 20,000 points for double occupancy).
For travellers who just want to eat
Sitting on 4,200 acres in the Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm is where you go when you need to get away. Isolate yourself in a charming shiplap-clad cottages with a cozy fireplace.
You can easily embrace solitude into nature here, thanks to a variety of activities such as hiking through the mountains, fly fishing, cycling, horseback riding and much more. But Blackberry Farm is also renowned for its culinary programme, and showcases “Foothills Cuisine” from the region at three different restaurants included with your stay, along with nonalcoholic beverages and self-guided activities.
The details: Rates begin at $745 (£566) per night, and a two-night stay is required.
A slew of new all-inclusive properties have appeared in the Maldives, including the stunning Pullman Maldives All-Inclusive Resort Hotel, which has foodies drooling. This property opened the first organic vegan restaurant in the island nation and considers itself as the most generous all-inclusive resort in the Maldives. The breakfast buffet puts Las Vegas to shame. You can literally spend your entire day eating and drinking at their four à la carte restaurants.
The details: A beach villa here can set you back about $930 (£707) per night.
Featured photo courtesy of Puku Ridge.
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