ake1150sb/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An all-inclusive resort often seems like the obvious choice when planning a budget-friendly vacation.
Everything is (supposedly) included, so (supposedly) what you pay upfront is the only fee you’ll incur, and you can (supposedly) drink, dine and play till your heart’s content. But unfortunately, some hotels that bill themselves as “all-inclusive” have plenty of caveats: VIP-only pools, limited dining hours and hefty fees for just about anything extra — to name just a few.
So you won’t be met with any pricey surprises on your next getaway, we did the research and found a dozen all-inclusive properties that truly offer a great bang for your buck. These five hotels, in the Caribbean and Mexico, are the best for those on a budget.
1. Majestic Colonial Punta Cana
This family-friendly all-inclusive resort with 658 suites has an attractive setting, affordable prices and a compact layout (no shuttle) that puts everyone within walking distance to the beach. Food, however, is above average for an all-inclusive (especially at this price point). The beach is the biggest draw, and there is also a large and lengthy pool area that runs the length of the resort. Rooms have classic, romantic style and marble bathrooms with jetted tubs (indoor or outdoor). Adults who choose to upgrade to the Colonial Club have access to a private lazy river pool and separate lounge for drinks and gourmet treats.
2. St. James’s Club Morgan Bay, St. Lucia
The St. James’s Club Morgan Bay is a family-friendly, 22-acre property in St Lucia. With four pools, six restaurants, six bars, an excellent kids club, and an extensive water sports pavilion, this is one of the most amenity-rich resorts on the island. While some guests might appreciate the minimalist rooms, others might find them dull, and bathrooms are small. Beyond the generic furnishings, all 335 units feature private balconies or terraces, many with full ocean views. Most appealing of all are the resort’s all-inclusive rates, which are virtually unbeatable across the entire island.
3. Solmar Resort All-Inclusive, Los Cabos
This mid-range, all-inclusive property is on the smaller side, so guests get all of the perks of an all-inclusive in a more intimate environment. It also means guests don’t get a ton of food options; there are just a couple restaurants on-site, but guests are entitled to eat free at a few restaurants at other Solmar properties. The real highlight is the hotel’s beachfront location, within walking distance of the marina and downtown. All rooms are suites with kitchenettes. Although the pool has a swim-up bar, the Solmar mainly attracts families to its (crowded) beach and nightly entertainment offerings. Guests can also opt for rates that just include breakfast.
4. Gran Caribe Real Cancun
The massive Gran Caribe is an affordable, four-pearl all-inclusive resort in Cancun’s Hotel Zone with 470 suites. This beachfront option features a great location with bright white sands and clear waters just steps from the room. All rooms here are suites with living areas, balconies or terraces (some are semi-private versus private), and updated marble bathrooms. This family-friendly choice — with a kids club, teen club, waterpark, and beach volleyball — is good value.
5. Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort And Spa
A mega-resort, the Grand Palladium feels like a shopping mall but is expansive enough for privacy, romance and fun. It has numerous pools (including the largest in Jamaica), large rooms, name-brand liquor, tasty breakfasts, mini-golf, and more — all for lower rates than lesser-equipped all-inclusives.
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