Coolest All-Inclusive Resorts
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.
Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, Arizona
There’s no shortage of food at this luxuriously rustic 69-room ranch on the edge of the Coronado National Forest, but an all-hours buffet isn’t its style, either. Instead, guests horseback ride to breakfast, for example, or cook out on an open plain as the sun goes down. Activities between chow-downs also impress. You can sign up for tennis or riding lessons, bike along mountain trails or go birding in Saguaro National Park. If you’d rather stay close to the watering hole, try out yoga sessions, stargazing and dive-in movies at the pool. tanqueverderanch.com
Dedon Island, Siargao, Philippines
When Bobby Dekeyser of furniture brand Dedon—well known for its high-end, handwoven chairs and lounges—founded Dedon Island last year, the country’s stock among savvy jet-setters skyrocketed. The resort’s nine villas—with chic interiors including swinging daybeds and lattice-style doors—lured them, as well as the island’s unspoiled beaches. On campus, you can sign up for water activities such as surfing, sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Want to venture outside of the resort? Join Dedon Island’s chef on an in-town market run, where you can meet local fishermen and farmers and get the inside scoop on what’s for dinner. dedonisland.com
The Singular, Puerto Natales, Chile
Thanks to its windswept, empty surroundings, this 57-room hotel—housed in a former cattle-storage facility in Chilean Patagonia—feels particularly secluded. Don’t be fooled, though; there is plenty to do. High-octane activities include full-day hikes to the base of the three-pronged Torres del Paine or picturesque boat rides to area glaciers. (Singular’s catamaran makes the trip an hour before other tourists, so you get the block of ice all to yourself.) Back on property, sip cocktails in the atmospheric lobby bar, outfitted with dark leather furnishings, or unwind in the sauna. At night, retire to your spacious room where a floor-to-ceiling glass window is the only thing separating you from the wild outdoors. thesingular.com
Rosewood Jumby Bay, Antigua
Even all-inclusive skeptics can’t help but get excited about the list of perks at this Caribbean resort, fresh from a $28 million renovation. Located on a private island two miles off the coast of Antigua, the property has tennis courts, a full-service spa, poolside yoga classes and even lawn games like croquet. Hoping to sunbathe with a beach read in hand? The resort’s partnership with Random House, HarperCollins and Knopf means that travelers get access to future best sellers before they hit Amazon. Interested in marine life? From June to November, guests can partake in conservation efforts on Pasture Bay Beach, where endangered hawksbill turtles lay their eggs. rosewoodhotels.com
Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont
This Relais & Châteaux hideaway on a leafy 300-acre property is a four-seasons getaway. When the snow starts to fall, you can channel your winter Olympian on one of the onsite slopes; in the summer, guests can swim and fly-fish. The farm’s spacious suites are elegant and cozy, but the 10 cottages, scattered across the grounds, are the real showstoppers. Each house is outfitted with massive stone fireplaces, eclectic throwback interiors and museum-quality works by artists such as Lichtenstein and Hockney. Even after checkout, the experience lingers courtesy of a thoughtful gourmet lunch box for the trip home. twinfarms.com
Lonhea Alpine Clinic, Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland
If you’re in the market for a total mind and body makeover, head to this wellness-focused resort in the Swiss Alps. Your stay begins with a four-hour consultation by Lonhea founder Dr. Michel Golay, who will carefully devise your week’s treatment plan—from meals and massages to nutrition and private fitness classes—based on your personal goals and abilities. Stay in one of nine chalet-inspired suites; heavy wood interiors have a contemporary feel thanks to plush cowhide rugs and Pop art wall fixtures. Before you sign up, make sure you’re committed: Dr. Golay, who has worked with Olympic athletes, is known for his grueling—though rewarding—itineraries. lonhea.com
Dunton Hot Springs, Dolores, Colorado
In 1994, German businessman Christoph Henkel bought this Colorado ghost town—a 19th-century mining camp in a previous life—and transformed it into a haute outdoors destination. Here, guests can fly-fish in one of two rivers, horseback ride across 183 acres and soak in indoor and outdoor hot springs. With only 12 cabins, all decked out in rustic-chic decor, and an impressive five-to-one guest-to-staff ratio, the service is top-notch. Head to the kitchen at any time of day, for example, and the chef is happy to cook up whatever your stomach is grumbling for. duntonhotsprings.com
Dar Ahlam, Skoura, Morocco
This 19th-century casbah, or fortress, set against the Sahara dunes, is made up of 14 rooms, suites and villas. (Or, if you want to sleep under the stars, you can opt for a plush desert tent.) Most excursions—such as sunset camel rides in the desert, picnic lunches underneath almond tree blossoms or tours of olive oil producers during harvest season—require 4 x 4s because of the locale’s sandy surroundings. At night, end lengthy dinners with sumptuous desserts by “the Picasso of pastry” chef Pierre Hermé. Best of all, the property is limited to 30 guests, so you can count on being well taken care of. maisondesreves.com
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana
Set on a 10-square-mile private property in Montana’s Big Sky region, this beautifully appointed dude ranch (which can accommodate up to 82 people) is happy to let guests sleep in, but intends to keep you busy. Fuel up for the day with a gourmet breakfast—the elk sausage is a must—before taking on the exhaustive activities list. In the winter months, you can build an igloo or take a carriage ride with hot chocolate in hand (make it extra warm with a dash of mint schnapps). When the weather warms up, try your hand at fly-fishing, skeet shooting, or western-style riding on one of the property’s 72 horses. At night, head to the Silver Dollar Saloon for a round of bowling, or ask the staff to put on a classic cowboy flick in the cozy screening room. theranchatrockcreek.com
Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania, Australia
Since it opened in 2010, the 11-acre Saffire Freycinet has developed a dedicated following because of the exceptional service and high design. Its 20 eco-friendly suites are modern and stylish thanks to cool earth tones, private patios and bathrooms with black-stone soaking tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking green mountains. If you can manage to leave your luxe cocoon, archery, mountain climbing and winemaking lessons at an onsite vineyard keep you entertained. saffire-freycinet.com.au
Explora Rapa Nui, Easter Island
Rates at Explora Rapa Nui conveniently include the entrance fee to Rapa Nui National Park, home to the island’s iconic Moai statues. Activities don’t stop there, though: Every day, staff members help you piece together an itinerary, which could include scenic five-hour hikes, picnic lunches on the beach or sailing trips to nearby islands. You’ll love the 30 rooms’ simple yet striking look—especially the balance between the raw concrete walls and refined bedding and furniture. explora.com
Kapama Karula, South Africa
Kapama Private Game Reserve features several program options, the most luxurious of which is the recently reopened Karula lodge set along the Klaserie River. Thanks to its waterfront location, many animals—nyalas, impalas and giraffes—graze nearby. Along with daily game drives and regular meals, perks such as plush rooms (think indoor/outdoor showers and private terraces in 12 suites, some of which come with their own plunge pools) and nightly sundowners, or sunset cocktails in the bush, set Kapama Karula apart from its competitors. kapama.co.za