Few can resist the promise of total relaxation, an endless buffet and nightly entertainment, all without lifting a finger. But before you reach for that margarita, consider this: Many all-inclusives have crowded restaurants, pools packed with rowdy spring breakers and expensive à la carte activities.
Here’s the good news: A new generation of one-rate hotels and resorts—which focus on design, personalized service and sense of place—have been quietly changing the game. Take the Singular Patagonia, for example, known for its top-notch activities (spa treatments, horseback rides and boat rides to glacier parks) and striking design. Debra Scharwath, an interior designer in Los Angeles, is one dedicated guest. “Everything was taken care of. My only worry was whether one or two glasses of wine would slow me down during afternoon excursions,” she says.
If white-sand beaches and turquoise waters are more your speed, consider Dedon Island in the Philippines. Here, travelers can surf, kayak and stand-up paddleboard, all without leaving the lush, exclusive campus. Best of all, there is no stopwatch: Lessons and tours end only when you want them to. Upon return, hit up the spa for a post-surf rubdown. Heck, sign up for a pre-workout treatment while you’re at it—all pampering is included in the rate.
Cabin fever is the last thing you’ll experience at Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona, another resort where an all-in-one price tag is the M.O. Campfire meals, stargazing and long nature walks can make the customizable itinerary. “There was always something new to try,” says guest Robin Turro, who followed riding lessons with poolside sunbathing. “I didn’t want to leave.”
Turro brings up a good point. If there’s one collective danger about our list, it’s this: Eventually, you do have to go home—and finger lifting will be required.