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.
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, located 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 renovated in December of 2011 and now feature luxury 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 $176 per person, per night.
Barceló Langosta Beach, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Staying here affords travelers the best of both worlds: The resort is on a secluded beach surrounded by rainforests and a national park, but is less than a mile from the popular town of Tamarindo. This is a low-key resort, with just one buffet restaurant and one a la carte restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine (there is an additional $36-$42 fee for the a la carte restaurant) and one bar, plus a small casino and an amphitheater with daily entertainment. But the 134 rooms have views of the Pacific Ocean or the estuary of Las Baulas, part of the national park. Bonus Tipping for the staff is included in the rate, so no need to reach for your wallet every time you order another round. El Robledal, Tamarindo, 800/227-2356, barcelo.com. From $188 per person, per night.
Paradise Island Harbour Resort, Bahamas
At just 246 rooms, this family-friendly resort is a fraction of the size of the 4,000-room Atlantis next door. But it's also a fraction of the price for the all-inclusive option. Paradise Island is on a private beach and has a large pool and three places to dine—a pool-side grill, a buffet, and a steak and seafood a la carte restaurant. Unwinding is the first order of business here, so you won't find the same 24/7 whirl of activity here as at the mega resorts. But that doesn't mean anyone in your family will be bored. The kids' camp keeps them busy with sand castle building and craft making, and offers fun, active sports like pool volleyball and beach bowling. Bonus If you've ever wanted to learn how to dive, this is the place: the resort offers a complimentary scuba lesson in the pool. Harbor Dr., Paradise Island, Nassau, 888/582-0192, paradiseislandbahama.com. From $210 per person, per night. Check the website for specials thru 2013.
Jolly Beach Resort & Spa, Antigua
Set on 40 acres (including a mile of white sand), the Jolly Beach Resort & Spa is great for those who want to get out on the turquoise water. Kayaks, windsurfers, and paddleboats are all at the ready and there are also two pools. Would you rather just take in the view of the waves? The 464 rooms all have at least partial ocean views. The resort also has five restaurants ranging from a casual beach take-out place to the Italian Bocciolo. Bonus A proper afternoon tea with scones and cucumber sandwiches is also offered every day in the courtyard—a nod to the island's British roots. Bolans Village, Antigua, 866/905-6559, jollybeachresort.com. From $221 per person, per night.