It started with the Crayola Factory, Sesame Place and then New Jersey shore houses. Hershey, Disney and Universal Studios followed.
I began to get more adventurous and took my family to Aspen, the Bahamas, Myrtle Beach, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. By this point, my boys were tweens. Wanting their independence, excitement and adventure, I finally discovered the beauty of all-inclusive resorts! A vacation transformation!
All-inclusive resorts are perfect for any age group, catering to families, singles, couples and seniors. Combining luxurious accommodations with all the food you could possibly eat; free-flowing drinks [alcoholic and non-alcoholic]; planned poolside games and activities; fully-staffed children and teen programs; game rooms; land and water sports; endless entertainment; butler service and taxes and gratuities; all-inclusive vacations are appealing to so many, as the cost of your vacation is known up–front.
From ultra luxury resorts to five-, four- and three-star rated resorts, all-inclusive vacations are available for every budget. Each resort is unique, whether it is the theme of the resort or the particular amenities offered. Popular all-inclusives are located in Antigua, the Bahamas, Cancun, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Riviera Maya, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos. But still there are many in Central and South America, Europe, Africa, South Pacific and Asia.
All-inclusive resorts offer different options for different tastes, so it is important to understand what you’re looking for. Some resorts include beautiful lush gardens, natural lagoons and jungle settings, while others offer several award-winning pools and magnificent spa services. Some cater specifically to newlyweds and romantic getaways, while others offer a wide array of sports and award-winning golf.
Topping the list of the best family resorts is Beaches in Turks and Caicos. With a 45,000 square-foot waterpark, three magnificent villages boasting the ambiance of Italy, France and the Caribbean, endless activities for tots to tweens and teens, an Xbox 360 game garage, a teen disco, sixteen restaurants and even butler service, this was the first all-inclusive resort I visited. And equally important, the flight was nonstop from Newark Liberty International Airport.
At the time, my boys were 10 and 12 years old, and they lived in the XBOX garage and at the waterpark. The nightly entertainment was spectacular and very interactive. My kids were on stage and, yes, even Mom entered a contest impersonating a famous celebrity. Needless to say, my impressive dance moves earned me the top spot in the contest and around the resort, I became known as, “Michael.”
Moonwalking to the magnificent east coast of the Dominican Republic, Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa and Iberostar Punta Cana are other fabulous choices for families. With luxury rooms and suites offering ocean views combined with international restaurants, 24-hour room and concierge services, a supervised kids club and nearby excursion sites for golf, shopping and history, both resorts offer the perfect destination not only for family time, but for reunions or group events.
Singles and couples are finding all-inclusive resorts a fantastic getaway for romance, weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. Much like family resorts, each one is unique to its clientele. Many resorts offer catamaran cruises, glass bottom boat rides, fantastic nightlife, dancing under the stars or a romantic beachside dinner for two. It is important to check out the amenities offered as they are not all equal. While jacuzzis outside on your patio or balcony, swim-up suites, roofless showers or a candlelit beachside dinner may be on the romantic menu, a cocktail master class, Spanish or dance lessons might be more your style.
If traveling to Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua or St. Lucia is your choice for an adult-only vacation, Sandals Resorts not only offer amazing accommodations and gourmet restaurants from around the world, but private offshore island activities; weddings by Martha Stewart; unlimited scuba, motorized and land sports; top golf courses; and many more luxurious amenities. And flying nonstop out of Newark is a bonus.
Or if Mexico or the Dominican Republic are your choice, imagine being greeted with a cool towel and a glass of champagne—then being escorted to meet your personal butler who will check you in, take you to your room and make sure you are completely happy. It’s an amazing start to any vacation at the spectacular Iberostar Resorts.
Rest assured, if all this fun and excitement seems like too much money, it is not. Currently, there are many sales and promotions taking place at all-inclusive resorts. Breezes resorts are offering huge savings if you book between Jan. 1, 2012 and April 30, 2012.
If golf is your passion, guests of Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun and Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun are offering complimentary greens fees at the Grand Coral Riviera Maya. This golf course, designed by PGA champion Nick Price, boasts a magnificent 18-hole, 7,043-yard golf course where golf pros and amateurs can enjoy a round, only steps away from the breathtaking Caribbean Sea. Guests of the resort receive one complimentary round per person, per day when staying anytime until April 30, 2013.
Beaches Resorts offer military and firefighter discounts as well as special packages like the “Best Friends Forever Getaway.” Gather your girlfriends for four nights and enjoy a welcome cocktail party, a beach bonfire, skincare classes, a private catamaran cruise, beach yoga and meditation, a farewell dinner and much more! In addition, offfered at 18 Sandals and Beaches resorts in the Caribbean, “Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart,” will make your destination wedding a dream come true. And with this package, there are still discounts to consider.
There are so many avenues to explore while saving money and fully experiencing a vacation like no other. Now is the time to put your sandals on, grab your sunscreen and fit some relaxation and fun into your 2012 schedule! See you at the beach!