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There’s a new term floating around in the world of luxury resort vacations:
The ultra all-inclusive resort.
I’m a frequent Caribbean traveler, and no stranger to all-inclusive resorts. So I couldn’t help but wonder: What in the world is an ULTRA all-inclusive? Is this the next level luxury resort? Should I be recommending it to Mango Tree clients?
I had to dig in and figure it out. So here we are.
It turns out, hoteliers around the world are taking the all-inclusive resort to the next level by offering more amenities, unique experiences, and special perks for the discerning traveler. An “ultra all-inclusive resort” might offer luxury perks like unlimited gourmet food and top-shelf drinks, exclusive island excursions, and spa treatments, all wrapped into the price of the room.
These next level luxury resorts are not yet common place, but in this article I’ll explain where they are popping up, and how the best ones differ from traditional all-inclusive packages. You’ll learn about the top destinations around the globe for this next-level luxury offering, the pros and cons of chooseing an all-inclusive resort for your family vacation, and our favorite luxury all-inclusive Caribbean resorts for families.
Let’s dive in.
My Top 3 Picks: Luxury All-Inclusive Caribbean Resorts
- Delicious breakfast
- Expansive pool villas
- Tranquil lagoon setting
- The best beach chairs ever
- Warm and welcoming
- Kids club (3+) and playground
- Classic but intimate resort
- Private Island
- Airy beachfront cottages
- Overwater spa
- Kid-friendly grounds
Background: The All-Inclusive Resort
I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of all-inclusive hotels and resorts. But did you know that all-inclusive resorts have really only been a thing since the 1950s? Since then, they’ve skyrocketed in popularity around the world–especially among families–and now hotels are trying to find a new take on the well-established concept.
An all-inclusive resort – unlike a traditional hotel – is one that is considered a self-contained destination, with all the food, drinks, amenities and luxurious experience you could want at your fingertips. Usually, those are all included in your nightly rate.
All-inclusive beach resorts are typically found in warm, tropical destinations like Greece or the kid-friendly Caribbean islands. Some all-inclusive vacation resorts are adults-only, while others cater to families
What is an Ultra All Inclusive?
An ultra all-inclusive is an all-inclusive resort that offers even more amenities, unique experiences, and special benefits than a standard all inclusive package. These extras can include premiums like unlimited food and top-shelf drinks, exclusive island excursions, and spa treatments.
A handful of all-inclusive hotels are beginning to offer an ultra all-inclusive package option, which comes at a higher cost.
But an ultra all inclusive resort is by no means a universal concept yet, so don’t expect to find one in every destination. You may hear them also referred to as ‘ultimate all inclusive,’ or ‘luxury all inclusive’ resorts.
The intention of an ultra all-inclusive experience is to provide guests with luxurious, exclusive benefits. They’re meant to provide everything a guest could ever want, day or night, so that one never has to leave the grounds for top-notch vacation amenities.
All-Inclusive vs Ultra All-Inclusive: What’s the Difference?
Still wondering, what is the difference between an all inclusive and ultra all inclusive? Frankly, we’re still not totally clear on the distinction ourselves.
Since the concept of an ultra all inclusive resort is still pretty new and uncommon, the verdict is still out as to whether this is truly a new breed of all-inclusive resorts, or just a twist on the same concept. It seems like some hotels are just toting an “ultra all-inclusive” package as a marketing or upselling opportunity.
Regardless, it’s safe to think of ultra all inclusive holidays as a vacation at a resort that offers all the things you’d normally receive, and then some. Think things like top-shelf booze, food without limits, exclusive access to certain parts of the resort, and private island tours or excursions.
What’s included in an ultra all inclusive beach resort stay depends on the resort that offers it. Let’s start with what’s typically included at a regular all-inclusive resort stay:
- The room
- Unlimited food (or 3 meals a day and snacks)
- Mini bar and drinks (alcoholic & non alcoholic)
- Private beach and pool access
- Access to sporting facilities, gym, pool, sauna, etc.
- Entertainment and special events
And here are a few additional premium amenities might receive if you purchase an “ultra” all-inclusive package, depending on the resort:
- Top shelf alcohol
- Special spa services, like massages
- Add-on concierge or room services
- Exclusive access to private sporting, entertainment, or spa facilities
- Private tours or island excursions
Top Ultra All-Inclusive Destinations
These mega-luxurious, ultra all inclusive vacation resorts aren’t found just anywhere. Here are a few of the world’s top ultra all-inclusive destinations, and the hotels that are embracing this new term. People the planet over flock to these locations for a premium ultra all-inclusive resort experience:
The Mediterranean city of Antalya, Turkey is an all inclusive resort hotspot. Several of these all-inclusives are beginning to rebrand themselves as ultra all inclusive resorts, like Miramare Hotels. The ultra all-inclusive packages includes kids programming, entertainment, food and drinks, and Turkish spa treatments.
In Turkey, most traditional all-inclusive resorts include only local spirits. That’s because imported liquor is heavily taxed and therefore much more expensive in Turkey. One of the ultra all-inclusive benefits at Miramare is the inclusion of premium, imported liquor in the cost.
Dubai is known as an opulent, futuristic city and a top ultra all-inclusive resort destination, with its waterfront sand dunes and glass cityscape. But Rixos the Palm Hotel, Dubai’s premiere ultra all-inclusive, takes it to another level.
On top of all the normal all-inclusive perks, an ultra all-inclusive package here includes unlimited specialty items from the hotel’s restaurants. You’ll also have access to 60 kinds of branded specialty spirits.
Ikos Resorts could be credited for making the Greek Islands, especially Corfu, a top ultra all inclusive resort destination. Ikos Dassia on Corfu Island offers an ultra luxury package that includes unlimited food and imported alcohol, and an included “Local Discovery” program, offering tickets and scheduled tours to local experiences and cultural institutions on Corfu.
Ultra All-Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico
The term “ultra all-inclusive” has not made its way into the marketing vocabulary describing the resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico — which are our specialty. But these tropical destinations often steal the show for families or couples searching for an all-inclusive retreat.
Even if the term “ultra” isn’t used, there are tons of luxury resorts to be found in these regions. Cancun and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, plus Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, are the top markets for all-inclusive resort destinations in the Caribbean.
Below, we highlight some of the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, which give the “ultra” all-inclusives around the globe a run for their money. We also highlight some of the Mango Tree favorite family resorts for every style of traveler and budget level.
Pros and Cons: Ultra All-Inclusive Beach Resorts With Kids
Before we talk specific resorts, it’s worth taking a minute to consider: Is an all-inclusive resort (whether it’s “ultra” or not) the right kind of vacation resort for your family trip? There are definitely plenty of benefits, as well as drawbacks to staying at an all-inclusive resort.
If we’re being honest – and we sort of can’t help ourselves – all-inclusive resorts are not usually our jam here at Mango Tree Travel. We tend to prefer boutique hotels over mega resorts even when traveling with kids. But even we love a good all-inclusive resort from time to time. It just depends on our trip priorities – and it may be the same for you. Here are the pros and cons to staying at an all-inclusive resort with kids.
Pros of the All-Inclusive
Transparent pricing. At an (ethical) all-inclusive resort, you know exactly what you’re getting for the price. This is a breath of fresh air, compared to many hotels that try to nickel and dime guests with hidden fees and itemized checks (like $5 bottles of water or $15+ kids meals.) This is a huge relief for travelers with a set budget, or who simply do not want to have to worry about each dollar spent on vacation.
Kid-oriented amenities. At family oriented resorts, kids can enjoy plenty of fun family amenities regular hotels don’t offer. We’re talking kids clubs or daycares, playgrounds, water slides, kiddie pools, and live children’s entertainment. The bonus: These all give mom and dad a break, probably the number one reason for choosing this type of resort.
Low-stress trip planning. All-inclusive resorts make it far easier to plan a trip. A good travel agent can find you the right hotel for you, which fits your travel style. And all your activities are right there at your fingertips. No need to slave away creating itineraries, booking tickets, or searching for the area’s best restaurants or activities.
Convenience. Guests might love ultra all-inclusives because there’s no need to lift a finger. Everything is on-site: shops, restaurants, meals, entertainment, swimming, spa treatments, and outdoor activities. And most all-inclusive properties are well-designed and gorgeous, enjoyable places to take it all in. There are moments in a parents life –such as when traveling with a new baby, or taking your first big vacation with a toddler – when ease trumps all other priorities.
Cons of the All-Inclusive
Too curated. All-inclusive resorts are highly curated for guests. That can sometimes feel a bit too glossy or inauthentic. And many of the all-inclusive resorts that focus on children can feel a bit cartoony and cheesy, with little to satisfy parents’ personal tastes. It can be hard (but not impossible) to find one that feels authentic.
Isolated from surrounding culture. To many travelers, this is a major con of all-inclusives. Due to the nature of “never having to leave the resort,” you are quite isolated from the local destination–and you often never leave the resort. You can have the feeling of being on any beach, anywhere.
Boring for adventurous travelers. Resorts are geared towards relaxing, unwinding, and enjoying the lap of luxury. This is exactly what many parents need! But others may find the lack of adventure activities and exploration dull, not really one for the bucket list. Others still complain about the lack of good food, as many resort menus cater to more unadventurous eaters.
Local/environmental impact. This depends on how green a resort is, but some mega resorts have a negative impact on the local environment, community, and economy.
All-Inclusive Costs: What to Expect
If the pros of an all-inclusive resort outweigh the cons for you, we can guess your natural next question: How much does an all-inclusive cost? It completely depends on what you want.
Traditionally, all-inclusive resorts offer some of the most affordable vacation options. In Mexico and the Dominican Republic, for example, where there’s a huge market for such resorts, you can find rooms starting anywhere from $150-$300 a night, all-inclusive for a standard room. You’ll have to pay more for a room to fit families.
That said, you get what you pay for when it comes to all-inclusives. You won’t get high-end food or top shelf liquor on the lower end of the pricing scale, and you’re more likely to get nickel-and-dimed for little extras during the stay. Customer service also tends to suffer at large hotels at lower price points.
On the other end of the scale, ultra all-inclusives can cost thousands of dollars a night, easily, especially if you need a suite when traveling with kids. Hotel prices have skyrocketed in many destinations in 2022 and 2023, including in tropical island destinations where all-inclusives are often found.
For a higher-end hotel, don’t expect to pay less than $500 a night for an all-inclusive stay. In many cases, though – especially where luxury amenities and ultra all-inclusive perks are offered – family suites cost more than $1000-$1500 per night.
Families often come to us in search of an all-inclusive that is better-than-average, but still affordable. We’re always on the look-out for top all-inclusive resorts to recommend. Our current favorite? The Finest Playa Mujeres in Mexico offer affordable family rates of $500 or less a night a relaxing and kid-friendly property.
Luxury All Inclusive Resorts: Mango Tree Travel Favorites
Our mission at Mango Tree is to help you find the right Caribbean destination for your family trip. Each family might need something a little different in their ideal family-friendly hotel.
These are our current favorite Caribbean all inclusive resorts for families lookign for luxury. These are the closest the region comes so far to the ultra all-inclusive beach resort.
We love these because most of them are small and intimate, compared to many much larger, impersonal resorts. They are as close as it comes to an ultra all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, and will delight luxury travelers.
Ultimate Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts
Since we’re talking about ultra all-inclusive resorts, we’ll start with the best of the best. These resorts offer a total luxury experience, but are also very welcoming of kids.
Kamalame Cay is often named the best resort in the Bahamas. (Yes, the Bahamas are part of the Caribbean!) It offers a truly special – and luxurious – private island experience, all just an hour away from Miami, or a 15 minute hopper flight from Nassau.
This award winning Bahamas all-inclusive resort welcomes families. Kids will love playing on oversized floats at the pool, and exploring the grounds in search of hermit crabs. Parents will love the well-designed villages and cottages. Everyone will love getting around the island by golf cart.
The hotel offers all-inclusive rates, and since you’ll have no desire to leave the property, we highly recommend going that route.
We recently had the chance to stay at the stunning, boutique resort in Curacao, part of the ABC Islands. Set off the main street of beach hotels, it’s truly an island oasis. The Balinese-influenced resort is lush and natural, and surrounds a manmade lagoon with some of the softest sand our kids have ever experienced. Eat a gourmet dinner with your feet in the sand and relax on plush loungers to truly unwind.
What makes Baoase an ultra all-inclusive resort? The over-the-top, toes in the sand breakfast, the elaborate pool villas, and the attention to detail.
It’s rare to find a small resort that also offers all-inclusive packages and a host of amenities for the whole family. Curtain Bluff does it all.
Despite having only 72 rooms, you’ll find tennis courts, a spa, squash, a playground, a kids’ club (accepting littles from 3+), lawn games, non-motorized watersports, and a dive shop all on-site. Add on the all-inclusive meal plan, and you won’t have to worry about a thing on this vacation.
Curtain Bluff often books up for the holiday season a full year in advance: Guests return year over year to an all-inclusive family resort that feels like coming home.
This is barefoot, private-island luxury at its best, and will put most “ultra all-inclusive” resorts to shame. There are only 22 cottages on the entire island, located in the far south of the Caribbean Sea in the Grenadines. Beach and water will be everywhere you look. Enjoy an awesome blend of low-key energy and beautiful design. This is also the place to unplug – the resort uniquely features no TVs, internet, or phones!
Those looking for an eco-friendly all-inclusive resort that caters to families will love Petit St Vincent.
The family-owned resort of Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada is perfectly situated on the gorgeous shores of Grenada’s Grand Anse Beach. The staff here are phenomenal, as they make you feel so welcome and greet your children by name like they’re VIP guests. Take advantage of their Kids Club and beachview terraces.
We especially love the oceanfront one-bedroom suites where families can have their morning coffee steps from the ocean. Grenada is an easy island to navigate, and easily nabs a place on our top Caribbean islands for kids, and this hotel the perfect home base.
With rooms designed by Ralph Lauren, you’ll find simple and stylish luxury at Round Hill Resort in Jamaica. You can feel the intentional sophistication in everything from reception’s black-and-white checkered floors to the white-and-blue striped pillows on the outdoor Adirondack chairs. It appeals to luxury tastes, but there’s nothing stuffy about it.
If you’re looking for a resort that offers a sophisticated vibe while still welcoming children to the property, this is it. Your kids will enjoy themselves at the free Kids Club cottage, or jumping on the ocean trampoline, while you enjoy a Jamaican rum cocktail and wander the lush gardens.
Note that Round Hill is not technically an all-inclusive resort, and meals and drinks can be purchased a-la carte, but meal plans are available.
A Unique Tropical All Inclusive Experience: Small Hope Bay Lodge
For a total unique all-inclusive experience, families should consider the two-bedroom cottages at Small Hope Bay Lodge in the Out-Islands of the Bahamas. Rather than luxury bedding or fine-dining, here you’ll find a more rustic, tropical experience.
Small Hope Bay Lodge is perfect for families looking for a more off-the-beaten-path, rustic tropical experience. This small beachfront resort encourages guests to socialize in the main room for meals. To facilitate a great experience for parents, they offer top notch family benefits like childcare, a game room, and even babysitting so you can enjoy Happy Hour.
A More Affordable All-Inclusive Option: Finest Playa Mujeres
We totally get it – you’re suffering from sticker shock looking at some of the ultra all-inclusive resorts.
And the affordable resorts look well… mediocre.
We love a luxury hotel in the Caribbean but, if that’s not in the cards for thsi trip, there are more affordable options.
Finest Playa Mujeres – Mexico is our personal favorite affordable all-inclusive resort.
The Finest resorts are sister to the adult all-inclusive Excellence brand, which has properties in Cancun and elsewhere. This large but manageable resort with beachfront access has spacious rooms, good food, and an aesthetically pleasing design. It has a nice energy and is a great choice for an easy, affordable vacation.
A bonus? Some of the family rooms have private swimming pools, an awesome perk with or without kids.
One last tip: The family rooms at the Finest Playa Mujeres often sell out months in advance, so plan ahead. If you find your ideal travel dates booked, be aware that the Finest brand launched the Finest Punta Cana in 2021, and it tends to have a bit more availability, with a similar layout.
Now that you have a better sense of ultra all inclusive resorts and what in the world they are, we hope you’ll feel more confident deciding whether that’s the right vacation path for you!
Need extra help choosing a Caribbean resort destination? We’ve got you covered.