Some of the greatest values for families can be found at all-inclusive resorts, which offer plenty of diversions and schedule flexibility.
The kids want to go ziplining—for the third time in two days. But you don't need to think twice. When you're staying at an all-inclusive resort, nearly everything is included, so the pressure is off to constantly tally the cost of your vacation.
The all-inclusive concept has gotten a recent makeover—better food, spruced-up décor, more varied activities—and many are perfect for families. Activities are on-site, so there's no need to wake up early and usher the troops out the door only to wait in traffic or long lines. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa offers four themed villages, 19 restaurants, a 45,000-square-foot water park, a Scratch DJ Academy, a surfing simulator, an Xbox Play Lounge, and Sesame Street® characters.
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The best all-inclusive family resorts also have programs that give grown-ups a little space. Vermont's Tyler Place Family Resort runs nine camps tailored to specific ages, each with its own facilities; parents meet up with their brood for lunch and activities, but can enjoy dinner in the adults-only restaurant.
These are the kinds of distinguishing factors to look for before booking. "The devil is in the details, so do your homework with special attention to size, quality, and the staff-to-guest ratio," says Zachary Rabinor, CEO of Journey Mexico.
At Kenya's Lewa Safari Camp, families can customize the experience, say, with earlier mealtimes. Before each morning's game drive, hot chocolate is delivered to the door. Now that should keep the whole family happy.
• Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, St. Lucia
• The Ranch at Emerald Valley, CO
• Meliã Caribe Tropical, Dominican Republic
• Rancho de los Caballeros, AZ
• Skytop Lodge, PA
• Tyler Place Family Resort, VT
• Club Med Pragelato Vialattea, Italy
• Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmerelda, Mexico
• Lewa Safari Camp, Kenya
• Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa
• Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch, WY
• Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, Costa Rica
• Vista Verde, Steamboat Springs, CO
• Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
• Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, AZ
• Barceló Maya Beach Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
• Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY
• Alsol Luxury Village, Dominican Republic