America's Best All-Inclusive Resorts
“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 percent repeat business.
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.”
Related: The Best Vacation Spots in the U.S.
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.
Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, GA
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.
Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Springs, CO
“Picture this,” raves Jamie Pearson on her Travel Savvy Mom blog_ “After an outrageously fun day of riding, learning to herd cattle, or watching your kids compete in a just-for-fun rodeo, you unwind on the porch of your private cabin in your private Jacuzzi. It’s heaven.” It’s otherwise known as Vista Verde Guest Ranch, where rates include meals and all beverages; horseback riding; guided hiking, biking, and fly-fishing; river rafting and kayaking; kids’ and teens’ programs; evening barn dances and rodeos; and shuttle service to and from Steamboat Springs.
Price Tag: Weekly rates from $2,900 per adult and $2,300 per child under 11 staying in the lodge; add $400 per person for a cabin.
Travaasa Austin, Texas
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.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida
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 percent are so common that you should never pay full price; sign up for the newsletter to stay in the know.
Fair Hills Resort, Detroit Lakes, MN
This affordable old-fashioned summer camp on Minnesota’s Pelican Lake earns raves from families who return year after year, generation after generation. The resort is decidedly no-frills and unpretentious—and that’s exactly what devotees love about it. Guests stay in rustic lake cabins and come together for a wide array of activities, from pony rides, fishing, kayaking, and scavenger hunts to swimming, tennis, golf, and sailing lessons. The American Plan includes all meals and activities.
Price Tag: From $124 per night per adult; add $41 per child 6-12; free for kids 5 and under.
Skytop Lodge, Pennsylvania
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.
Tyler Place Family Resort, Highgate Springs, VT
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 percent lower.
Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, Tucson
Guests take treatments in one of six tents styled by Irish-born designer Clodagh. “For me, a tent evokes impermanence,” she says. “It reflects the impermanence of the spa treatment as well.” Set in a botanical garden shaded by paloverde trees, each of the tents has natural cleft-stone flooring, an acacia-wood bench, and walls made of saguaro and ocotillo cacti. Miraval offers a host of treatments and packages, medical consultations and diagnostics are offered, along with wellness treatments in a spacious facility conceived by Dr. Andrew Weil.
Price Tag: Rates from $625 per person, per night, including a $150 daily resort credit to apply to select spa services and activities.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
About 25 minutes from Knoxville, Blackberry is like a south of the Mason-Dixon Line edition of a Currier & Ives print: ribbons of white fences, a pond stocked with catfish, and houses constructed from Tennessee fieldstone. Set on 4,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry’s 51 rooms—spread throughout the main house, three guesthouses, and 20 cottages—are done in a plush Anglo-American idiom, complete with fringed swags and decorative pillows in fancy fabrics. Regulation rockers are soldiered onto the front lawn for the day’s Big Moment: sundown with tumblers of Hirsch 20-year-old bourbon.
Price Tag: All-inclusive rates from $745 per person, per night; there is a two-night minimum stay.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI
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.
Mohonk Mountain House Hotel, New Paltz, NY
Mohonk Mountain House is a 251-room Victorian castle-with a well-planned kid's program, and 21st-century rates. Every December 24, guests competing in the annual Yule Log Hunt venture into the woods to find the timber with a red ribbon on it. Whoever brings back the ribbon gets to light the Yule log in a ceremony before Christmas dinner. The outdoor fun also includes hiking in the surrounding Shawangunk Ridge (aka the Gunks, a famous rock climbing locale), and skating in the resort's own pavilion.
Price Tag: Doubles from $580 per night; add $99 per child ages 4–17; kids under 4 stay free.
Twin Farms, Barnard, VT
Just north of Woodstock in southeast Vermont, Twin Farms is an all-inclusive resort set on the former estate of Sinclair Lewis and his wife, journalist Dorothy Thompson. Surrounded by woodlands and wildflower meadows, the 300-acre resort has 10 suites—most of which include American folk art and wood-burning fireplaces—and 10 private, freestanding cottages. The cottages are individually decorated and may include stone terraces, 18th-century limestone floors, and living rooms with fireside hot tubs. Twin Farms also provides customized meals with wine pairings, and a wide range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and downhill skiing on private trails.
Price Tag: Doubles from $1,400 per night for a self-described "beyond inclusive" stay that includes perks such as private airport transfers, same-day laundry service, Wi-Fi, and worldwide phone calls.
Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, MT
It’s a 100-mile drive from Missoula International Airport to this 6,600-acre spread, but the posh high-mountain pampering is worth it. Ponds are full of trout, cabins come with well-stocked wine fridges and claw-foot tubs, and spa treatments are tailor-made for two.
Price Tag: Doubles from $950 per night; add $800 per teen and $700 per child ages 3-12.
Winvian, Morris, CT
Winvian opened on a sprawling Colonial estate in northwestern Connecticut in 2007. The conceptual project reflects the combined efforts of owner Maggie Smith and her daughter Heather, who, with the assistance of David Sellers, a former professor at the Yale School of Architecture, asked 15 architects and designers to unleash their fertile imaginations and create a collection of 18 idiosyncratic cottages. One structure is made of boulders; another is a tree house set 35 feet off the ground. There is a suite built around an old Coast Guard helicopter, while a cottage called the Beaver Lodge has an actual beaver lodge suspended from the ceiling. Comfort, however, is never sacrificed in the name of design. Rooms come with fluffy robes, steam showers, and fully stocked bars.
Price Tag: All-inclusive rates start at $1,050 per cottage, per night, based on double occupancy.