10 Best Budget Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts
Your kids want to swim in the ocean, your spouse wants to perfect his tennis serve, and all you want is a nice glass of wine with dinner…oh, and to wake up to the sound of the waves lapping the shore. All for one price that won't break the bank. Mission impossible? Not anymore.
It's a fact that all-inclusive resorts can be expensive, with the average nightly rate at some of the bigger chains running $450—per person. And when you find one in your price range there's usually a caveat—the beach is a 15-minute drive away, or the "all" only includes non-alcoholic beverages (those margaritas by the pool really add up). We here at Budget Travel love a challenge and—though it wasn't easy—we found 10 beachfront all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America (plus one Mediterranean resort so charming we couldn't resist including it) starting at $100 per person, per night. And they really are all-inclusive: a double room, three meals a day, drinks (from soda to cocktails), and lots of activities. And each one has an added bonus, too, from tennis lessons to scuba instructions. The only thing not included? Caveats.
Iberostar Costa Dorada, Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic
Iberostar operates six hotels in the Dominican Republic, but this resort 10 minutes from Puerto Plata gives you the most for your money. The 516 rooms (which all have either a terrace or balcony) are located in thatch-roof buildings painted cheerful shades of yellow and purple. The entire property underwent a full renovation in 2011 resulting in completely remodeled rooms, a new lobby, and a renovated kids' club. There are three a la carte restaurants (Brazilian, Mexican, and seafood from the local waters) plus a buffet restaurant. If you aren't content to just sit on the beach or the massive pool, there are activities all around the resort, from archery to merengue lessons. Bonus While some all-inclusive resorts only serve house-brand liquor, bartenders at Costa Dorada pour from imported names as well (Tanqueray, Stoli, etc.). Carretera de Luperon Km 4, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, 888/923-2722, iberostar.com. From $100 per person, per night (three-night minimum).
Krystal Cancun, Mexico
This Riviera Maya resort makes the most of its location: the pool runs lengthwise along the sand, and there's even a beachfront infinity whirlpool. The Krystal, which is in the heart of the Hotel Zone on Punta Cancun, has 453 rooms, and each one has a view of either the Caribbean Sea or Cancun Lagoon. The rooms were also renovated in December 2011 with updates like marble floors, flat-screen TVs, and rain showers—perfect for washing off all that sand. Bonus One of the downsides of an all-inclusive resort is that you have to eat every meal on-site. Krystal includes a Discover Cancun pass that covers one dinner at a local restaurant. Paseo Kukulcan Km 9.5, Cancun, 800/437-9605, krystal-hotels.com. From $100 per person, per night.
ClubHotel Riu Negril, Jamaica
Head out to the far western tip of Jamaica and you'll find this lively beachfront resort in Negril. It is right on the beach, but the place to be is by one of the umbrella-shaded loungers around the two gigantic pools (both are well over 3,000 square feet). There is a party atmosphere here, and the complimentary mini bars and liquor dispensers in the 420 guest rooms are regularly restocked. If you want to go all out, head to the Pacha nightclub, where reggae is sure to be spinning. If you are looking for quiet, try the solarium terrace. Bonus The resort often adds credits to the Renova Spa in the all-inclusive packages, such as $20 per person toward a 50-minute massage (massages start at $100). Norman Manley Blvd., Negril, Jamaica, 888/748-4990, riu.com. From $101 per person, per night.
Royal Decameron Golf Beach Resort & Villas, Farallón, Panama
This 1,170-room mega resort does things big from its spot on a mile of secluded beach. There are eight pools, 10 restaurants, and 11 bars (including one swim-up), which means you’ll rarely do or see the same thing twice. Play in the Pacific with free paddleboards, kayaks, or windsurfers, or check out the local underwater residents with the provided snorkel gear. The nightlife is also big here and the party goes long after the sun sets (which probably has something to do with the open bar). Bonus Though the base-rate is for a garden-view room, each one has a terrace or balcony overlooking the tropical foliage. Avenida Principal Farallón, Km 115, 011-507/993-2255, decameron.com. From $106 per person, per night.
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