Travel & Outdoors | January 2009
|All-Inclusive Resorts Offer Vacation Bliss|
Carolyn Burns Bass - Travel Examiner
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One of the reasons people love cruises is the simplicity and service. Show up on the ship and most things are already taken care of for you and you’re not pulling out your wallet over and over for pricey treats, meals and entertainment.
|Junior suite at Barcelo Mayan palace is roomy, with marble baths, robes, slippers, luxurious bath amenities and ocean or garden views.|
Enter the all-inclusive resort. Those with enough time under the sun will remember one of the first all-inclusive resort brands, Club Med. Club Med is still satisfying discriminating travelers throughout the Caribbean, but the field has grown to include a mosaic of other all-inclusive brands across the globe.
All-inclusive resorts are found in most popular destinations, including Mexico, Central America, Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii. The range in quality from brand to brand varies and the prices reflect the quality. Travelers seeking a cut-above will want to watch for four or five star resorts in brands such as Palace Resorts, Barcelo and Sandals.
Palace Resorts include complimentary wine and premium liquor in every room. Mixers are available upon request, as well as liquors not regularly stocked. In Mexico, for instance, you’ll always find a bottle of tequila in the room, but if you’d rather have a bourbon, it’s only a phone call away. Expect to find two-person in-room spas in all upgraded rooms, along with full-size bath amenities.
Barcelo Resorts, which includes the luxury brands Secrets and Dreams, offers 24-hour room service, and not just with a skimpy menu. For those who prefer traveling without children, the Secrets resorts are adults-only. Dreams resorts are family friendly, with complimentary kid’s clubs and water activities, child-friendly dining and entertainment. Barcelo also has all-inclusive resorts in Turkey and Spain.
Sandals has more than a dozen resorts scattered throughout the Caribbean isles. At Sandals, you’ll find lavish suites with personal butler service. Their Red Lane® Spas are renown for their luxurious European treatments and body rituals, all given with a distinctive Caribbean panache.
All-inclusive resorts include all meals at a variety of restaurants and complimentary wine and liquor. You may be a guest in Rivera Maya, but don’t think the only offering there is Mexican food. Each of the brands in this report offer a diverse selection of restaurants at each resort, including Asian, Mediterranean, steak and chop houses, buffets and pool/beachside snack bars. Like a cruise ship, many of the finest restaurants at the resort will require reservations. The sooner you’ve paid your reservation, the sooner you can make your reservations.
With so many pools, water features, golf and other activities available at an all-inclusive resort, you can easily spend days without ever leaving the resort. Just as cruise ships offer shore excursions, all-inclusive resorts have exclusive arrangements with local tour operators for sightseeing and outings at nearby cultural or adventure destinations.
With a sluggish economy, the all-inclusive resort could be the best choice for travelers wanting the perks of Egyptian cotton sheets, complimentary room service, culinary adventures, and free nightly entertainment. Many resorts are working with the tourism bureaus of their location to provide additional discounts such as rebates on airfare, tour excursions and room upgrades.
Except for three years when she lived in Japan, Carolyn Burns Bass has lived in the LA area since birth. A travel writer and novelist, she continually looks for new experiences to share with others who enjoy the beautiful, the grand, the legendary, and the artistic side of life. Email me at Carolyn(at)CarolynBurnsBass.com.