Photo: Miraval 2012
“I just love having everything paid for up front,” says Renee Pagnani, who has vacationed at the same all-inclusive resort for six years in a row. “It’s the quintessential Vermont experience.”Wait—did she say Vermont?
Instead of flying to Cancún or Jamaica, the Pagnanis drive four hours from their Boston-area home to the 165-acre Tyler Place Family Resort, where rusticity meets elegance on the shores of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont. The family-run resort was an early pioneer of the all-inclusive concept in the early 1950s and today enjoys a staggering 90 per cent repeat business.
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The best all-inclusive resorts offer a slew of activities in picturesque, get-away-from-it-all settings. Each has its own personality, from a luxurious ranch in Colorado, where guests can follow up a horseback ride with a soak in a private Jacuzzi, to the summer-camp vibe at affordable lakeside cabins in Minnesota.
Of course, affordable is relative, and the nightly price points at some of these resorts can raise eyebrows. “But think about the value,” observes Pagnani. “Think about the amazing children’s program—now that’s resource-intensive.” Tyler Place, for instance, separates kids into nine age-staggered groups, each with its own clubhouse, counselors, and extensive schedule of activities from art workshops to hikes. Dinners are adults only—with babysitters provided—and include bistro-style meals with ingredients sourced from Vermont farms and food vendors.
Meals, many activities, and accommodations are included, and the advertised rates sometimes extend to alcoholic beverages, although almost never to private sessions like spa treatments. “Always read the fine print,” advises Scott Berman, who leads a practice of hospitality industry consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Miami. “In the end, you get what you pay for.”
At an all-inclusive resort, more than at most other lodgings, you know just what you’re paying for and can take care of all the arrangements well in advance—leaving you free to relax from the moment you arrive.
Read on for America’s best all-inclusive resorts—and consider these other romantic all-inclusive resorts, if you’re looking for a decidedly adult escape.
Reached only by boat, this gracious lodge for a maximum of 32 guests feels like a true hideaway. Built in 1917 as a private hunting lodge, it opened to the public in the late 1970s. You're in for VIP service, fresh seafood meals, and animal encounters. The lodge is within a 10,000-acre sanctuary full of roaming wildlife, including more than 280 types of birds. Rates include meals, snacks, and all beverages; naturalist-guided hikes, kayak tours, fishing trips, reptile safaris, and evening owl prowls; boat transfers to and from the island; and unlimited use of the island activities and recreation gear.
Price Tag: Doubles from $600 per night; add $125 per additional guest.
Blending wellness and a sense of place, Travaasa is a holistic retreat with a spectacular location on the edge of the 24,000-acre Balcones Canyonland Preserve. It's the kind of place where you can go for a gorgeous hike, take a cooking class, have a massage, and enjoy a gourmet farm-to-table meal all in the same day. Leave time to chill in the infinity pool, which delivers a panorama of the hill country landscape. The Total Travaasa price includes meals, snacks, and nonalcoholic beverages; challenge course, yoga, culinary, and other group classes; and a $125 resort credit good toward spa treatments, a private class, or golf.
Price Tag: Three-night stays from $313 per night per couple.
Perhaps the world's most famous all-inclusive brand, Club Med gave its only U.S.-based property a $28 million renovation in 2011 and introduced the first L'Occitane Spa in America. Not only can the resort boast about its excellent kids' program and full-service nursery, but it also runs a circus school and tennis academy. The setting on the sandy banks of the St. Lucie River is perfect for kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding.
Price Tag: Published rates from $719 per night per couple; add $180 per night per child over 3. Tip: Sales of up to 45 per cent are so common that you should never pay full price; sign up for the newsletter to stay in the know.
This historic mountain resort sprawled across 5,500 acres has been luring guests high into the Poconos since 1928. Book a room in the grand stone lodge or at the inn that opens right onto the championship golf course. The All-American Family Fun plan includes all meals plus an enormous choice of activities for the whole family, from the supervised children's program to hiking, boating, biking, rock climbing, ziplining, and tennis. Golfers get to enjoy a perk that's almost unheard of: unlimited greens fees. Spa treatments, alas, cost extra.
Price Tag: Doubles from $550 per night; add $45 per child ages 5--17; free for kids 4 and under.
At the northeast corner of Lake Champlain, the Tyler family's all-inclusive resort has has accommodated guests on its 165 acres of private shore each summer for three generations. The complex doesn't just contain accommodations in cottages and suites, but also a slew of amenities geared towards family vacation, such as a pool complex, field house, sports fields, art workshops, hiking trails, and bike rentals. Dinners are adults only (babysitters provided) and include bistro-style meals with ingredients sourced from 30 Vermont farms and food venders.
Price Tag: Peak summer nightly rates from $400 per couple; add $123 per child ages 36 months--15 years. Early- and late-season rates are up to 50 per cent lower.
This colonnaded 19th-century summer resort, complete with lawn games and after-dinner dancing, is magestically set on a bluff overlooking Lake Huron. Every couple of years, the legendary 1887 Grand Hotel unveils an addition, such as the Gate House restaurant, where gentlemen can finally dine sans coat and tie.
Price Tag: Doubles from $254 per night; add $59 per child ages 12--17; kids under 12 stay free.
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