The Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Every Type of Family
April 4, 2018
All-inclusive vacations are no longer for spring-break singles or people who just want to lounge by the hotel pool for a solid week, Mai Tai in hand. Today, the all-in landscape is dotted with more kid-friendly all-inclusive resorts than ever—and they’re popping up all over the globe at just about any budget. Whether you’re looking to take the kids to a high-end dude ranch in Montana, a luxury safari in the Galapagos, or a downright affordable all-inclusive resort in Mexico, here are our picks for the best all-inclusive family resorts.
While everyone’s idea of luxury is bit different, these kid-friendly, all-inclusive resorts strive to make the whole family feel like royalty. And, yes, even upscale all-inclusive resorts can have buffets and water parks. Some even offer log cabin accommodations. So what makes these vacations particularly upscale? It’s about the vibe the resort gives off—and the price tag.
Your Galapagos dreams and all-inclusive wishes can meld into a luxury-laden, family-friendly vacation of a lifetime. The Galapagos Safari Camp resides on an 135-acre private farm on Santa Cruz island in Ecuador and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific. Here, you and yours hunker down in one of nine beautifully-appointed fancy-pants safari tents (with bathrooms!) or in a three-suite lodge featuring a playroom. The all-included perks are no joke, encompassing a private family safari; plus trips to places like deserted beaches, flamingo lagoons, an organic coffee plantations, and the Charles Darwin Research Center. All farm-to-table cuisine and guided activities are included. So is the snorkel gear and wetsuits. And, have no fear, there’s free wifi, a yoga deck, and a bar, but you’ll need to pay for the drinks.
Kid-friendly features This type of an adventure is often best for children over 6, but babies and younger kids can easily be accommodated. (They’ve got baby cots, baths, bed rails and high chairs upon request.) By 6-and-up, however, kids can thoroughly enjoy spying tortoises, iguanas, egrets, owls, blue footed boobies and all the region’s most jaw-dropping wildlife. All the naturalists who run the tours are specifically chosen because they rock at knowing what kids want to see and hear. Beyond the whole OMG-I’m-in-the-Galapagos thing, kids (and adults) can enjoy the infinity pool, a play room stocked with games, bikes and a trampoline. Bonus: During certain school holidays, children can enjoy the kid’s club and babysitting can be arranged.
Rates: Starting at $18,600, 5-night stay, family of four*
Spending a week at a creekside ranch set on 6,000 acres of Montana wilderness may sound all rustic and charming (you can stay in an authentic log cabin or barn!), but make no mistake, The Ranch at Rock Creek is luxury dude-ranching all the way. They offer three-times-daily gourmet farm-to-table meals; unlimited premium booze, beer and wine; and a plethora of cocktail-and-hors d’oeuvres get-togethers. And every activity is included, like horseback riding, snowshoeing, stagecoach rides, rodeos and skiing. A big bonus: You don’t have to take any gear with you. All equipment is provided. Heck, even laundry is included. And, of course, what’s luxury without a spa? It’s here, but that will cost you extra.
Kid-friendly features No matter the season, starting at age 4, you can drop your little buckaroo at the kids club where he or she can do fun stuff like mine for sapphires, go geocaching, ride a pony or go on a hike to spy prairie dogs, deer, elk, moose and more. Beyond the club, there’s a state-of-the-art ropes course and zip-line, a pool, a dock to dive off of, sledding, bowling, lots of s’mores-roasting and an on-site movie theatre. The kids club also host twice-weekly kid-only dinners, so the grownups can eat in upscale peace. If you require more kid-care, babysitting can be arranged (for a fee) or you can pre-book a nanny to shadow you throughout your stay. Car seats, highchairs, cribs, pull-behind bike cart are all included.
Rates: Starting at $27,300, 7-night stay, family of four*
If you think a lakefront vacation would be all mucky, buggy and anything but luxury, you haven’t been to Migis Lodge in South Casco, Maine. This family-friendly all-inclusive resort hugs pristine Sebago Lake. Each of the resort’s 35 cozy cottages come complete with fireplaces and lake views. Your family lodging, activities (like golf, pilates, tennis, and sailing), the kids’ club and meals are all part of the package. And it’s not just a hot-dogs-and-burgers type of vacay: You can take a sailboat to a private island for a filet mignon lunch; you can experience a good old New England lobster bake; enjoy pan-seared duck on a dinner date; and, yes, have a hot dog by the lake. For a little extra, you can even book a massage. (Alcohol, while served, is not included.)
Kid-friendly features Besides the fact that there’s an African Gray parrot that chills at the front desk and oodles of wildlife around, kids age 4 and up can do things like make tie-dye, swim, take boat rides to the candy store, and do arts and crafts at the drop-off kids’ club between noon to 5 p.m. Afterward, children of all ages gather for a big group dinner with their new pals and counselors, leaving you to dine with your other half, no high chair required. (Rest assured: Even if your child is too young for the kids’ club, he or she can still participate. All children under three get a one-on-one caregiver while you’re enjoying your meal.) Kids can also hit up to the rec room or playground, which has a zip-line, climbing wall, tire swings, slides and a tree house. There’s no shortage of old-school family activities either—with things like all-ages bingo, karaoke, and s’mores at the bonfire peppering your stay. (Need a babysitter? They’re available for $15 an hour.)
Rates: Starting at $7,264, for a 7-night stay, family of four*
Once you travel in Europe this way, it’ll be hard to do it any other way. This all-inclusive (from June through September) boutique retreat in the south of France is not a classic setup. Instead of hotel rooms, you and your family stay in a cluster of five luxury villas (a dairy, a farmhouse and private cottage) complete with exposed stone walls and original French oak floors. All meals (even afternoon tea), alcohol, activities and childcare are included. Perhaps even more exciting: Each adult also gets an on-the-house spa treatment and massage. Plus, little extras like wine tastings, yoga classes and tennis lessons are also part of the package. There’s even a washing and ironing service.
Kid-friendly features If you don’t have any children, you can’t stay here—that’s how all-about-the-family this estate is. Childcare is provided for all children age 3 months and up, including on-demand babysitting, a drop-off kids’ club; and a Friday morning PJ party that allows parents a much-needing sleep-in. Adding to the kid-fun: Complimentary swim and tennis lessons, bikes, a trampoline, a sandbox, mini golf and daily tractor rides to visit the on-site petting farm. Strollers, cribs, toys, baby baths, baby food, diapers and wipes are all included.
Rates: Starting at $10,194, 7-night stay, family of four*
Palm trees, white sandy beaches, a kids club, inclusive food and drinks, and some sweet, sweet relaxation is expected at a Beaches resort in Turks and Caicos. But what makes this resort one of the very best all-inclusive family resorts are the bonus extras, like the comprehensive scuba diving program for all ages. (That means you can honest-to-goodness learn to dive here.) There are a staggering 21 restaurants and 15 bars to choose from. (For an added cost, you and yours can even schedule private dining.) And while there’s plenty of for-the-kids water activities here, you can enjoy a lap pool and an adults-only pool. And, yes, there’s a spa, and you’ll love it. (It does cost extra, though.)
Kid-friendly features From infants to teens, your kiddo is in good hands with the various supervised camp programs provided from 9 to 9 daily. On-site counselors have even received training to work with special-needs kids. (You can request a one-on-one counselor/buddy to be with your child at all times.) When not kids-clubbing, there’s 12 miles of beach, six pools (one has a kid-friendly swim-up bar), and a 45,000-square-foot pirate-themed waterpark complete with a lazy river, surf simulator and lots of water slides. A super-cool bonus for Sesame Street-loving guests: You can meet Grover, Big Bird, and the rest of the gang over a storytime, a nature walk and more. For older ones: There’s an Xbox Play Lounge 360 Game Garage.
Rates: Starting at $7,755, 7-night stay, family of four*
A romantic getaway and kid-friendly vacation at the same time? You bet. Vista Verde Ranch, perched on roughly 600 acres of natural beauty just outside Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has all you’d want in a luxury all-inclusive dude ranch getaway. (There are 120 horses here!) The stunning cabins come equipped with Italian linens, spa robes, a hot tub and complimentary snacks and sips. The all-inclusive dining? It’s all about the marriage of ranch-y and fancy, with family-style dining one night and multi-course dinner the next. While it’s a given that meals and lodging are included, so are beer and wine, horseback riding, skiing, rock climbing, rafting, photography workshops, cooking classes and so much more. Not included: In-room TV and wifi. You’re supposed to disconnect, silly. (Don’t freak: You can get online while in the Main Lodge.)
Kid-friendly features While the Ranch offers pack n’ plays to those who inquire, the resort generally caters to the 6-and-up kid crowd. In the summer, the on-site (included) drop-off kids program is broken into three age groups, ranging from 6 years old to 17, operating from 9:30 to noon, then again from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Roughly every-other-night they open back up so the grown-ups can have a nice just-the-two-of-us dinner. There’s also a daily children’s program during winter holidays where lots of sledding, sleigh riding, horseback riding and snowshoeing happens. And no kid will let you leave Vista Verde without checking out the indoor riding arena and the ropes course.
Rates: Starting at $13,500 for a 7-night stay, family of four*
This family-owned surf camp in Montezuma hosts only three families at a time, ensuring that you garner all of the attention you desire. Each family gets a beachfront villa, complete with your own hammocks, private outdoor space and kitchen. Not that you’ll need to cook. Three family-style meals a day (plus beach snacks and happy hour) are included. They incorporate local and organic ingredients. And, since the resort is all about teaching you and your family how to surf, daily sessions are provided. There’s one no-surf day in the middle of the week so you can explore a local waterfall, the nearby turtle sanctuary, try zip-lining, take a boat tour and more—all included. If you don’t want to go anywhere, simply enjoy the pool, a yoga class or a massage, all on-the-house. Bonus: family photography is also included.
Kid-friendly features Children as young as 4 are welcome to safely learn to surf with a 2:1 instructor-to-kid ratio. When your kiddo isn’t catching waves, the children’s activities director is busy organizing fun alternatives like art projects, nature walks and soccer games on the beach. What’s more, your child can spy a monkey or a turtle any day, enjoy the pool or the easy-on-your feet sandy-bottom beach. They can even pick and gather mangoes and coconuts that grow onsite.
Rates: Starting at $9,690 for a 7-night stay, family of four*
Not every family can afford a vacation at a luxury resort, so we searched high and low to find some all-inclusive options that hit a more affordable note. From stateside to across the ocean, here are some more budget-friendly picks.
At once tranquil and exciting, this gem of an all-inclusive eco family resort is among the best. The majority of the property is untouched jungle, mangroves and lagoons, leaving guests to enjoy miles of lush tropical surroundings and native wildlife. Translation: You will for-sure encounter monkeys, coati, iguanas, turtles and more. As an eco resort, you can count on many get-to-know-your-surroundings activities, including on-site snorkeling, swimming through a natural cenote, going on a photo safari, and learning how to use a traditional Mayan underground oven. Plus, like all of the best all-inclusive family resorts, this one’s got plenty of eating options that are downright delicious and alcohol is included. Of note: The beach is lovely, but rocky. Pack water shoes.
Kid-friendly features There’s a special family section of the resort that’s dotted with villa-style housing. Some have bunk beds and balcony plunge pools, and they’re all close to what kids love: the all-ages aquapark, two pools, the water sport center, and the drop-off kids club for children age 4 to 12, which boasts a playground, video games, kid yoga, foosball, a climbing wall and more. Littles between 2 and 3 can spend time in the kids club, too, just at more limited hours. But, fear not: You can arrange private babysitting in advance with concierge. Last but not least, there’s an actual mini farm on-site hosting dozens of rescue animals. Kids get to play animal keeper under the staff’s watchful eye.
Rates: Starting at $1,957, 7-night stay, family of four*
One of the best all-inclusive family resorts sits right on Lake Champlain in Vermont, hugged by 165 acres of forest, fields, and trails, and an entire mile of private shorefront. It checks off many of the all-inclusive boxes you’d expect (meals, kids’ club and activities included) and some you wouldn’t expect, like feeling like you’re a kid again only at the nicest summer camp, ever. There’s a kids-dine-earlier policy, so you can relax with your honey over dinner nightly while the children gobble up healthy meals with their new pals. Afterward, you can enjoy live jazz, a dance party DJ, a cruise or roasted s’mores at the bonfire. (Know that alcohol and spa treatments are available, but not included.)
Kid-friendly features There’s a whole lot of outdoor-fun to be had here, like campfires, mini golf, tubing, rock climbing, lawn games, cannonballing into the lake and swimming hole, and bike riding. In fact, each kid gets his or her own bicycle for their entire stay. The kids club hosts infants all the way to teenager. The 2.5 to 5-year-old set, for instance, can be dropped off to enjoy well-supervised time in the wading pool or splash pad. They can garden, fish, jump on trampolines, hit up the playground or treehouse and more. The youngest crowd enjoys three different age-appropriate drop-off programs that offer one caregiver for every one to two children. Cribs, high chairs, strollers, baby bike seats and more all there for the borrowing too. And if extra babysitting is needed, just ask—it’s can be arranged for a little extra money.
Rates: Starting at $3,250 for a 6-night stay, family of four*
Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic recently went through a pretty stellar reno adding even more luxury and fun to this staple of family-friendly all-inclusive resorts. They jazzed up some restaurants, updated the main pool and deck, and added an entire circus! While you may think, that’s for kids, it truly is for everyone. The Cirque du Soleil-trained staff teaches acrobatic bungee, the flying trapeze, aerial silk, tightrope and more. If learning new tricks isn’t for you, there’s always 2,000 feet of white sandy beaches, golf, a spa, water sports and shows.
Kid-friendly features Your children won’t be playing old board games in windowless kids’ club here. Instead, kids ages 4 and up are learning to sail, testing out the trapeze, trying archery, learning to cook and playing tennis. (Kid classes are offered 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and again in from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) If you’ve got younger kids, Baby Club Med and Petit Club Med are available, but at an extra cost. If you tell the resort in advance, you’ll have access to nursery essentials like a crib, stroller and baby tub. There’s even a special restaurant baby corner where you can find items like a sterilizer, a bottle warmer, baby food, blenders and plenty of boiled veggies ready to be pureed.
Rates: Starting at $2,893, 7-night stay, family of four*
If you’re looking for a nostalgic summer, this all-inclusive Catskill Mountain resort fits the bill with lots of old fashion activities like family Olympics, lawn games and concerts, fishing tournaments and paddle boat rides. And thanks to the drop-off day camp for kids, you can enjoy grown-up stuff like golfing (extra, but discounted), wine and cheese mixers, Zumba, water aerobics, yoga and fencing classes. For adventure-seekers, there’s even a Viking Obstacle Course on site. And, of course, three daily all-you-can-eat family-style meals are included. Alcoholic drinks are an extra charge. Use of the day spa is extra too, but totally worth it. Bonus: The resort can arrange day trips to nearby outlets, caverns, Woodstock and more.
Kid-friendly features There’s a drop-off day camp (for ages 3 to 12) that’s included. And mini golf, playgrounds (indoor and out), and tons of sporty fun, whether lakeside or on land. You can pet goats! Even better? Sunny Hill hosts family movies under the stars and sets off fireworks. And what may be the coolest: Throughout your stay, the lawn is filled with kid rides including a train, swings and a merry go round. And once a week, kids big and small can take a ride on a military vehicles, such as a tank and a Humvee.
Rates: Starting at $3,760, 7-night stay, family of four*
This Dominican Republic all-inclusive family resort may look like it’s all for the kids (there are three fairytale castles dotting the property, after all) but there’s plenty to make this an ideal vacation for grownups too. Diving lesson in the pool, paddle surfing, kayaks, tennis, catamarans and snorkeling are all included. There are six eateries and six bars folded into the price-of-stay, plus 24-hour room service. And, yes: All beverages, even alcoholic, are included. As far as rooms go, you can book a family suite with connected rooms, including a themed room for the kids (there’s even a pillow menu to ensure your ultimate comfort). Finally: A spa!
Kid-friendly features If the castles didn’t give it away, kids are treated like royalty here. Upon arrival, they’re offered a welcome drink and showered with treats that they can enjoy while parents check in. Once children get to their rooms they’ll find just-my-size bathrobes, bath kits and a minibar stocked with milkshakes. There’s a kids club castle for those age 4 to 12 where children can take a Spanish lesson, learn to cook, whip up crafts, go on a scavenger hunt and more. (There’s also a teens club for kids 12 and up.) Beyond the clubs are pools, a beach (a short walk or cart-ride away), and a waterpark with lifeguards and an actual Candy Man who roles into the lobby daily with treats for all. Other kid perks include: babysitting, cribs available upon request and kids-only spa treatments.
Rates: Starting at $2,328, 7-night stay, family of four*
Finding all inclusive family resorts in Jamaica isn’t that hard. But finding one that’s as lush, lovely and oh so family-friendly as FDR is. Situated on Runaway Bay, Jamaica, FDR includes what you’d expect: a kids’ club, three meals daily, snacks, drinks and activities such as biking, snorkeling, tennis, kayaking and glass-bottom boat outings. But it’s also the one and only Jamaican resort to also offer a just-for-your-family nanny for the entirety of your stay. And, yes, the service (from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.) is included. (If you need more care, it’s $12 an hour.) Think about it: You can hit up the spa or go scuba diving (both extra), anytime your kiddo is occupied. And that’s luxury.
Kid-friendly features Kids have to make tough choices here: Which of the four swimming pools should they cool down in? Or should they tackle the 100 feet of water slides? Or maybe the infant and toddler water play area is best? But what about the two small beach coves that are perfect for safe and sheltered water time? When out of the water, children can head to the Yellow Bird Kids’ Club (open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.) for supervised activities like games, arts and crafts and excursions. There’s also the activity room complete with an Xbox and Nintendo, ball pit, blocks, library and more. Other standout extras include: a treehouse ice cream shop, a playground and organized family picnics with goat racing. Bonus: Families with physically disabled children can save 40 percent year round.
Rates: Starting at $4,970 for a 7-night stay, family of four*
Situated on the largest island in Panama, this away-from-it-all eco-lodge butts a marine national park, which allows guests access to both the ocean and the jungle. And, no matter which room you select, you’ll get a view of one. Included in your (air conditioned) stay: all non-alcoholic beverages, Panamanian beer and rum, and breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breads and desserts are baked on premises daily and much of the fruit and herbs used in cooking are grown on the property. As far as adventure, you can follow a biologist-trained naturalist for a guided tour, go bird-watching, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and even try stand up paddle boarding.
Kid-friendly features Tranquilo Bay has portable cribs available and bunk beds for your kiddos. They also offer early dinner for children (complete with an after-dinner kid-friendly movie or game-play with a babysitter) while the adults enjoy a relaxing meal. But the real kid-perk here is the access to nature and wildlife—this part of the world has been dubbed the Galapagos of the Caribbean. Your own personal guide will ensure you and your kids are in good hands while visiting an indigenous village, checking out an organic chocolate farm or snorkeling by the coral reef. The resort sits on over 200 acres of natural beauty, pretty much guaranteeing that your child will go home having spotted a ton of tropical birds, monkeys, three-toed sloths, iguanas, caiman, blue morpho butterflies, and lots of frogs and lizards. And there’s always Fula, the resident Labrador retriever who lives onsite. Bonus for messy kids: Free laundry.
Rates: Starting at $3,675, 7-night stay, family of four*
Of course a kids’-TV-network-themed hotel is going to cater to children. But this two-years-young beachfront Dominican Republic resort really does cater to all. You’ll see it as soon as you arrive when you’re greeted with a glass of champagne (the kids get green slime mocktails). Unlike many all-inclusives, the rooms themselves are very much part of your luxury stay. Here, you can book a swim-up suite where you can walk out onto your private furnished deck and directly into your pool. This means you can swim late at night, first thing in the morning, during naptime and every time in between. Included in your stay: Ten eatery choices, including many dubbed “gourmet inclusive” and an adults-only establishment, room service, beer, soda, juice, water and complimentary snacks in the mini fridge. For a little extra, indulge in indoor or outdoor spa treatments, like herbal steams and massages.
Kid-friendly features You can’t get more kid-friendly than having Dora, the pups from Paw Patrol and SpongeBob hangin’ with you on vacation. Kids can see them at designated spots, themed meals (that’s extra), and at the Just Kidding clubhouse which hosts supervised drop-off activities like slime-making and free-play for kids age 4 to 12. There’s also the Aqua Nick playground, bursting with water slides, splash and spray pads and a lazy river. At the Sports Hub kids can play tennis, try archery, have a chess game on a giant set and more. Finally, what makes this one of best all-inclusive family resorts: the complimentary Gotcha Covered amenities, like baby food, bottles, strollers, cribs and kid-size spa robes.
Rates: Starting at $4,795, 7-night stay, family of four*
Spread across 500 beautiful acres in New York’s scenic Hudson River Valley, this kid-friendly all-inclusive ranch offers more than horseplay. But, rest assured, there’s plenty of horse action, like trail riding, horse-drawn wagon rides, sleigh rides, horse shoeing demos and more offered year round. There’s a ton of onsite activities to enjoy and the vast majority are included, like water sports and skiing. While here, you and the family will enjoy three all-you-can-eat meals daily, a 24/7 snack bar stocked with cocoa, coffee, cakes and pastries. There are evening shows and entertainment, like acrobats, magicians and country line dancing. Bonus: When an adults-only event is scheduled (like a wine and cheese party or a comedy show), there’s often a kid-friendly performance at the same time, so you can drop off and enjoy. Alcohol and spa services are available, but cost extra.
Kid-friendly features Rocking Horses’ trail riding program starts at age 7, but younger kids can totally ride too. Their horses will simply be of the pony variety. In the winter, activities like tubing, ice skating and s’more-roasting keep kids happy—and they’re all included. And so is the Rocking Horse Ranch’s learn-to-ski guarantee, where kids score ski equipment, instruction and downhill adventures all on the house. When the snow melts, children of all ages can slide down the big hill with snow-free mountain tubing, go swimming, play mini golf, try a bungee jumper, hit up the playground or sports courts and lots more. There’s also plenty of indoor-fun, including a water park, arcade, a BB gun and archery range, bowling and a bounce house. And, yes: Parents, there’s a kids’ club for your teeniest cowboys and girls: They take newborns all the way up to big-kid buckaroos (age 12). Cribs and roll-away mattresses are available too.
Rates: Starting at $3,643, 7-night stay, family of four*
You don’t need to get your passport stamped to enjoy a warm, waterfront all-inclusive with the kids. There’s a Club Med on the banks of the Saint Lucie River in Florida offering everything you’d expect (plus some things you wouldn’t: Kids under 4 stay free). All meals, snacks and by-the-glass drinks are included. So is childcare, and activities like flyboarding, paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing school. Even golf is on the house. When you just want to relax, you can settle in on a chaise by the adults-only riverfront infinity pool or soak in the jacuzzi. And bonus to all the kids-at-heart: There’s an on-site flying trapeze school with circus activities. For a little extra, you can spend some quality time at the L’Occitane Spa.
Kid-friendly features If you’ve got some sporty shorties, they’ll love all the action-packed extras, like just-for-kids tennis, football, circus-training, golf and sailing. All activities are led by the folks at the kids club, open to kids age 4 to 10. Beyond sports, kids can learn to cook, dance, enjoy nature walks and get their arts and crafts on. For younger kids, care is also available for an extra charge. Children’s clubs are open all week, except Sunday.
Rates: Starting at $2,683, 7-night stay, family of four*
* These are average rates calculated at the time of reporting. All rates are subject to change.
Published March 2018