All Inclusive Vacation Planning & Tips

A Travel Writer and His Travels

“Things tangible and intangible combine to create great all-inclusive resort experiences”


All-inclusive resorts have come a long way in a short time. Fifteen years ago, most were synonymous with the word “budget.” Today there is an all-inclusive resort to fit virtually every level of traveler.

I’ve spent nearly 25 years as a travel writer and during that time had the good fortune to visit dozens of all-inclusive resorts across the Caribbean and Mexico.

I’ve come up with a short list of the most impressive all-inclusive resorts I’ve visited within the past two years. Creating this list was easier said than done.

That’s because the all-inclusive category has matured with time. Today there are simply more all-inclusive resorts than ever before that offer very good and at times excellent travel experiences.

So while all of the properties on this short list are strong vacation options, these aren’t necessarily the most luxurious or expensive options in the Caribbean and Mexico. They’re simply personal favorites based on tangible and perhaps some indescribable elements that combine to create great resorts.

Here are three of my favorite all-inclusive resorts, with a few reasons why I think each is pretty special:


Paradisus Palma Real, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic:

When I last visited this resort in late 2014 I was escaping an awfully cold and snowy New York winter. In addition to a brief, sunny escape from the city’s frozen-slush covered streets, the trip gave me a chance to dine at Passion, one of celebrity chef Martin Berasategui’s signature restaurants.

Berasategui is a native of Spain’s Vasque region and holds more Michelin stars than any other Spanish chef. His restaurant here is a delight. While I’m no gourmand, I couldn’t help but appreciate the restaurant’s elegant but whimsical décor and the inventive entrees like roast foie gras with seaweed on horseradish curd, fermented soy broth and hazelnut salt.

But that’s not the only attraction. The resort is easily one of the most beautiful in a region filled with impressive, upscale properties. Accommodations are nestled within elegant gardens, and the resort’s broad, white-sand beach is lined with tall coconut palm trees. The large central courtyard features graceful fountains bordered by stately terra-cotta topped arches.

Sandals La Source Grenada Resort & Spa:

The view from the hillside that overlooks Grenada’s Pink Gin Beach offers an image of worth a thousand words. Sandals Resorts International (SRI) is banking on that as this 225-room property’s calling card, building a resort where the sweeping shoreline is visible from nearly every area of the property.

I was an impressed as anyone else when I spent several days at this resort last year. Sandals has built the sort of property that guests just don’t want to leave.

Island Routes, Sandals’ tour company, has an office on the property and because this was my first trip to Grenada, I opted for a tour or the capital of St. George’s and some surrounding areas. But several of the reporters I was traveling with never left the property.

It was hard to blame them. Pink Gin Beach’s white sands and deep blue waters stretch for miles, extending along the coastline all the way to St. George’s. Grenada’s capital city is visible from virtually every point of the property.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the accommodations feature marble floors and baths, stone soaking tubs and terraced balconies with infinity pools. Butler service is available in several room categories. I stayed in a suite with a zero-edge balcony pool that overlooked the beach and spent hours taking photographs and staring into that amazing view.

The adults-only resort offers nine dining options and the company’s first steakhouse restaurant, Butch’s Chophouse, named after company chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

Sun Palace Resort, Cancun, Mexico:

I was lucky to have my wife Karen with me when I visited this resort in late 2013 because the couples-only, Cancun resort really made me a hero.

Karen and I are the ultimate beach bums – we both love warm-weather destinations with great beaches where you can lie out in the sun, do a little swimming and relax with a good book.

So I was in the right place. In addition to a great slice of Cancun’s beautiful white-sand beach, and terrific modern décor in the public areas, the Sun Palace offers what I consider to be some of the most exceptional guest rooms in the all-inclusive category.

Each features a private balcony with views of the Caribbean Sea or Nichupte Lagoon. Each room also offers double Jacuzzis, luxurious king beds and creatively designed bathrooms with large twin sinks, each equipped with a large floating mirror.

The resort features five restaurants and three bars plus 24-hour room service. Golfers can play the nearby Moon Spa & Golf Club or Riviera Cancun Golf Club; both feature Jack Nicklaus-designed courses.

I hope you enjoy your travels as much as we do!