A couple of decades ago, all-inclusive resorts were considered fine if you just wanted to stick your toes in the sand and relax, and didn’t mind your serenity served up with a side of bad booze and budget-conscious banquet food. The allure of a plastic bracelet and all-you-can-eat pigs-in-a-blanket faded with time, though, and suddenly all-inclusives were reserved for bad bachelor parties and college reunions. However, times have changed, and the one-stop vacation shop is back in fashion — this time with more attention paid to the gastronomic side.
Originally marketed toward singles and young couples, Club Med is considered one of the original all-inclusive resorts. Started in 1950 by a Belgian water polo champion, it was taken over in 1961 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, and the vacation villages expanded to islands like Tahiti and all over the Caribbean.
By the 1970s, the Caribbean became home to loads of all-inclusive resorts. Some are familiar brands like Beaches and Sandals, while others are newer boutique chains like the Spanish-run Meliá and Barceló. The standard offering of beachfront villas and ocean views can be found at all of the above, but other features are tailored to specific guests’ needs.
Take Beaches, for example; with resorts in Negril, Ocho Rios, and Turks & Caicos, each offering a Caribbean Adventure package in partnership with Sesame Street, it is one of the most family-friendly all-inclusives out there. The Meliá Resorts, which operates under the brands Melia, Grand Meliá, ME by Meliá, and Paradisus, is a more upscale experience with amenities like private garden villas and royal service experiences, including butler services that you can call with your free mobile phone.
Whether you’re traveling with your family or looking for an adults-only resort, there is an all-inclusive for you, and the food is no longer something to be merely endured. This is a list of the 10 best all-inclusive resorts worth visiting for the ultimate vacation, especially for food-lovers.
Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, St. Lucia
Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa is the all-inclusive resort you’ll want to visit if you’re into scuba diving and golf. You get those and more when visiting this Saint Lucia property. Stay in one of the Millionaire Suites, and you’ll be living in the lap of luxury with a private infinity pool, butler service, room service, and private car transfers. All guests can indulge in Five-Star Diamond French and global cuisine at nine spectacular restaurants, including Armando's, named after Armando Diaz, one of Italy's most celebrated military heroes. As tribute to General Diaz, Armando's serves specialties from his home region of Campania, in the breezy atmosphere of the restaurant's outdoor dining rooms.
Meliá Paradisus Punta Cana
The Royal Service Experience at the Meliá Paradisus Punta Cana includes access to a private pool and pool concierge, butler service, a VIP lounge, and a private beach. You also get special treatment at La Palpa restaurant, reserved for Royal Service guests only. Or you can visit the Passion by Martín Berasategui restaurant, run by one of the world’s finest chefs, a winner of seven Michelin stars.
Fabiana Santana is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.