Finding the best all-inclusive resorts for families can sometimes be tricky, with a variety of different options to sift through and try to understand. Just because a resort is listed as all-inclusive, it doesn't mean that it will have all the amenities that you're looking for. This is especially true if you're traveling with children, as ensuring that there are plenty of activities to keep them entertained is the hallmark of the best all-inclusive resorts for families.
When Donna Carlin from Stepping Out Travel Services books holidays for families, there are often more questions to consider than for couples, "What are the ages of the children, what do the children like to do, beach, pool, adventure? Once the destination is chosen, the next step is a suggestion of resorts with the activities that the children desire. Remember happy children make for happy and relaxed parents.”
All-inclusive holidays are designed to offer a stress-free option for families that don't want to worry about purchasing additional food, drinks or entertainment when they're away. While some resorts have a reputation for being pricey, you might actually find that removing the temptation to spend your money while on holiday might actually save you money in the long run.
When it comes to booking an all-inclusive vacation, this travel expert explains there are more steps to take when working with family clients, as Donna Carlin from Stepping Out Travel Services explains. “Qualifying clients for their vacations takes only a few steps, but qualifying families takes more. Desired destinations, valid passports, likes and dislikes. What are they looking to do or see on their vacation, and where was their best and worst vacation?"
With this in mind, we have put together a guide to some of the best all-inclusive resorts for families we could find on the web. We have compared on paper their location, surrounding area, and the family-friendly amenities and activities on offer at each. The prices are for guidance only and reflective of the quotes we could get at the time of writing.
Best all-inclusive resorts for families
Located in the hotel zone in Los Cabos, it’s not a surprise to find this hotel is in an ideal location for local beaches, golf clubs and the local Walmart. What will be of added interest to visitors is the San Jose del Cabo Art District, where you’ll find sculpture, pottery, fine art, and some local bakeries and restaurants.
This was one of the more expensive options that we priced up, although by no means at the higher end of the scale. However, you do get a good number of casual dining options, food choices, and general amenities for your dollar. There’s also a handy airport shuttle on request, wheelchair-accessible features throughout the resort, and conveniences such as a gift shop, concierge and hair salon.
When it comes to activities and the child/family-friendly aspects of this resort, we found that young children and adults have been thought of, but there doesn't seem to be many activities for older children and teenagers. Children are mentioned in the specs in terms of a children’s pool, children’s club, and outdoor pools, while adults have a tennis court, billiards, yoga and spa activities. However, there are not as many activities and sports listed to appeal to older children as some other resorts.
One thing to bear in mind when booking is researching the room type and view and whether it is worth paying for. One reviewer on Expedia commented, “The ocean view I paid for was not worth spending money on unless you got ocean front view, which was much more.”
If you like to keep active and try something new on holiday then the Royal Sands resort in Cancun could be a good all-inclusive option for you. On site, guests can make use of tennis and basketball courts, tennis lessons, and bike hire. Meanwhile, if you venture further afield, then the emphasis is on water sports and exploration. Options include eco-tours, boat tours, parasailing, windsurfing, and boogie boarding, all within easy access of the hotel.
The Royal Sands resort is located just a 20-minute drive from the Cancun airport, with nearby attractions including a museum dedicated to Mayan culture, and AquaWorld Cancun. Here you can learn to dive, swim with whale sharks, feel the adrenaline in a 20-seater speed boat or treat your children to a go on their inflatable obstacle course.
There seems to be limited advance information available on other activities and entertainment available on-site, which might be a factor when booking. There’s also limited information on accessibility, bar the stated provision of a lift. However, the good range of shops, dining options and added extras such as table tennis, air hockey, and a games room make this a good contender for family-friendly vacations.
One thing to be aware of is that the Royal Sands is a time-share resort, so you may be moved (for timeshare guests) on a Saturday. One verified reviewer on Expedia commented; “The only thing I dislike is switching us to another room after 2 days because the timeshare people are coming.”
The Iberostar Selection Rose Hall boasts a large outdoor pool, splash and play areas, and an inviting lazy river. This makes it one of the best all-inclusive holiday resorts for families.
However, while swimming pools can play a big part in any holiday, they're certainly not the only factor. Unfortunately, there are reported inconsistencies with service, food quality, and room service. Booking sites also state extra rollaway beds and infant cots are not available, which might make things awkward for certain guests.
The hotel is surrounded by golf courses and beaches, so there is plenty for all the family to explore. With spa facilities for the adults, a kids club that offers activities for four to 17-year-olds, and sports facilities, there’s plenty to do on-site as well. One guest particularly enjoyed the beach and commented on Expedia, “The beach is nice and clean. The water is clear and warm. There are free kayaks and paddle boards, we went with kids, it was lots of fun. I would give this hotel 3.5 stars, maybe 4 stars in some things. Definitely not 5 stars.”
It was also good to see so many positive reviews on the cleanliness and service and general amenities. Plus, it's reported that the resort has attempted to make their services more sustainable and eco-friendly by including plastic-free rooms and eco-friendly toiletries in the guest bathrooms.
If you’re looking for a tropical getaway where you can either enjoy plenty of activities or kick back and relax, then Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica could be a good all-inclusive option for you. The listings and guest reviews both give the impression that all ages will have plenty to do here.
The kid’s club caters for a wide age range from 3 to 16 and includes art and craft, pool fun and beach activities. Other activities include outdoor play equipment, board games, darts, karaoke, tennis, cooking classes, local culture tours, water sports and live music; they’ve covered many bases for both children and adults.
One Expedia reviewer confirmed this with a positive review of the entertainment: “Entertainment was never-ending, from kayaking to dance lessons at the pool, to steel band live shows, to beach volley, to the nightly club, to having a silent dance party on the beach, there was never a dull moment.”
The local area will be a magnet for golf lovers with several golf courses within a short walk away. You’re also close to numerous coffee houses, gift shops and the main Rose Hall shopping area.
Grotto Bay has a beautiful beachfront location, with a good choice of shops and restaurants nearby, with most of the main amenities you’d expect from a 4-star all-inclusive resort. There is a choice of bright and spacious rooms that overlook the ocean, some spa services, a choice of restaurants including BBQ and casual a la carte dining, and some sports facilities.
However, Grotto Bay does charge for some children’s amenities, such as babysitting, and the children’s club. Their child price is only valid up to age 6, which might be something to bear in mind when comparing hotel options – whether it’s worth paying extra (if applicable) for some of these services, or whether there is enough at the resort/nearby to keep everyone occupied.
On-site activities include an inflatable water park, playground, and swimming pool, with added extras including horse riding or island tours. But there are some limits on activities suitable for younger children, with diving, a gym, pool bar, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing suitable for older children or adults only.
This is emphasized by one Hotels.com reviewer who comments “I went for a unique swim in their cave. It’s across the street from the best hike in Bermuda – Blue Hole and Walsingham Reserve. The second time we stayed here and will definitely be back again.”
Grotto Bay scores highly for location, and ocean views, and is highly reviewed for its room and food quality. It just doesn’t score as highly on paper for across-the-board, all-ages family activities.
Location can offer so many plus points when it comes to hotels, whether it’s the distance to the beach or transfer time to the airport. The Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana scores on both counts but it was the other nearby amenities that caught our attention.
Within five miles you'll find several golf clubs and within 10 miles the Plaza San Juan Shopping Center, and the Bavaro Adventure Park, home to zip lines, horse riding, buggy adventures and a unique waterfall pool to swim in, or zip line in to. With an animal park also in the area, there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities if you want to venture beyond the resort.
This may be a plus point as the family-friendly offerings at this hotel are a little more limited than some of the others in this guide, though still cover the all-inclusive mainstays of a kids club, live entertainment, and sports facilities. One reviewer on Hotels.com commented on their stay, “the daily entertainment from beach games, pool activities and nightly shows were fantastic. From a magic show, circus, karaoke to Michael Jackson [tribute], there was something to do each night.”
Guests should be aware before booking that only one of the restaurants on-site is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is an international buffet. The choices for dinner are more varied and include a steakhouse, Italian, and seafood restaurants.
This resort has so many plus points on paper it’s hard to know where to start. It’s around 20 minutes from the nearest airport, so you don’t have to worry about a long transfer, and the surrounding area is great for nature lovers of all areas. Maps show us photo spots at Fern Gully and Turtle River Park.
Accessibility seems to have been given proper thought, with wheelchair-accessible parking, accessible bathrooms and roll-in showers, well-lit pathways and wheelchair-accessible registration desks.
There’s plenty to keep children entertained all day long, whether they’re enjoying the 100ft water slide, making the most of the games room, or enjoying supervised play in the children’s club. Families have the option to have some adult-only time through these programs and the included nanny service. As one reviewer on Expedia comments “We just got back home after a week at Franklyn D Resort with our two-year-old, and we can’t wait to go back. I agree with all the other reviews that say that the nanny makes the experience.”
A nightclub, scuba lessons in the pool, fitness classes, and numerous bars are just some of the adult-friendly amenities available.
The price is at the higher end of those we priced up, but with the accommodation rated for its spaciousness, the variety and number of activities included, and the thought given to children’s and disability needs, you could be getting a lot for the price you pay.
Bahia Principe boasts the tagline ‘luxury for all’ and at the prices we discovered, the Luxury Esmeralda resort in the Dominican Republic might just live up to that. Families will love the convenience of a short, 30-minute airport transfer time, and a local area that has a pharmacy, diving and water sports facilities, and shopping areas within a short walk or drive away.
For anyone that fancies a night off from all-inclusive dining at the hotel, there’s Italian, steakhouse, Pan-Asian, and French cuisine available in the Punta Cana/Arena Gorda area.
One reviewer was happy with their stay but did mark out some areas for improvement in their Expedia review. “We loved the resort: the entertainment, the food, the staff, and the easy beach access! It felt safe as well. Areas to improve: the check-in process was confusing. Also, the mattress was a bit too firm for our taste. Overall, it was a wonderful experience! It exceeded our expectations.”
There were some other general comments about parts of the hotel that needed a facelift, but overall guests have been happy to report positives with the cleanliness, service, and facilities. Those facilities include large pools with family-friendly areas, daily access for up to an hour to a range of water sports equipment, play areas and a kids club. It seems to be one of the more lively resorts on this round-up, with plenty going on and family-friendly dining options.
Blue Waters Resort is a good choice if you’re looking for a smaller, family-run resort. It has just 85 luxury rooms, villas, and suites, and advertises a more tranquil feel, thanks to its secluded beach coves, 17 acres of tropical gardens, bars and restaurants with a view over the Caribbean Sea.
As a smaller resort, they don’t have as many family-friendly amenities as some of the others in our guide and do put an emphasis on wellness and relaxation, so if you’re looking for a lively resort with a large choice of things to do, then this might not be the choice for you. Entertainment in the evenings is pretty relaxed and focuses on steel pan performances and a weekly cocktail party for the adults.
There are two family-friendly pools, some sports facilities, kids club/child care facilities to enjoy, and planned nature activities in the lush gardens for children to enjoy, while adults can book a water sports session. One reviewer on Booking.com commented “Beautiful resort with wonderful gardens. Could not fault our stay here.”
All ages are catered for through the dining options and flexible accommodation spaces. These include rooms and suites for up to four people, or penthouses and villas catering for larger family groups.
Antigua is a big draw with year-round sunshine, and the beachfront location of this result is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a relaxing family holiday. Explore further afield for traditional townhouses, retired cannons and old sea-facing forts.
Finest Playa Mujeres is an Excellence Collection property that offers all-suite accommodation in a beachfront location. Guest have the choice of spacious suites including ocean-view suites, swim-up suites, and Finest Club Family Suites with separate amenities.
We’ve rated this resort best for dining due to its 12 restaurants open to guests with no reservations needed. Food choices include the traditional Caribbean fare, modern French dishes, and an Asian fusion menu. They include healthy options, vegetarian dishes and gluten-free in each restaurant, to suit all dietary requirements. One reviewer on Hotels.com said “The food at the restaurants was exceptional. The service was excellent.”
Alongside dining, this resort seems to go the extra mile to include all ages in as many activities as possible. There are some adult-only areas of the resort, and kid's play facilities and programs but there are plenty of chances for family fun, even in the spa.
Apart from the spa, there does seem to be a lack of more relaxing pursuits, but guests can make full use of 10 swimming pools, water sports (motorized and non-motorized), a water park, play areas and childcare facilities.
The luxury beachfront hotel is just minutes from the Punta Sam Ferry Terminal where marine experiences and excursions leave from. A golf club, Gran Puerto Pier, and the El Meco Archaeological Site are all within 15 minutes drive.
What the expert says…
If these resort suggestions have given you some ideas, then the next step may be to get some advice from a travel agent or vacation planner.
As Donna Carlin from Stepping Out Travel Services says, these advisors need to “be accurate in all they say and print”, including forewarning clients about things that may not be in their control. “Certain things are out of advisor control – one being Mother Nature, bad weather, seaweed, but we do have to warn them about the climate in a destination. Another issue is flights. Cancellations and flights not together are a constant challenge that is out of our control. Suggesting travel protection is a must in our current environment.”
When it comes to booking an all-inclusive vacation, it does take away a lot of the stress and time looking up each aspect of the holiday, making comparisons and many more decisions, but there are some things to look out for.
From her experience in the travel industry, and with her own company, Donna suggests that “one thing you must watch out for when booking an all-inclusive holiday, is that it is truly all-inclusive. Some resorts have restaurants that you need to pay extra for. Are water sports included? Are transfers? You need to give your clients the out-of-pocket expenses, even at an all-inclusive.”
Our suggestions above also include some things to be aware of or limitations for each resort. It’s looking through the resort specifications, looking out for those *’s that denote extra charges, and even checking out dress codes for restaurants, that will help you make the most of your all-inclusive vacation.