The winter chill is just getting started, so it's time to plan your escape from New York. And if you've ruled out an all-inclusive vacation because you envision wristband-wearing tourists swigging watered down mixed drinks at the swim-up bar of a run-down resort, then think again.
New and improved all-inclusive hotels are cost-efficient travel solutions for singles, couples and families alike that are often decked out with upscale accommodations and gourmet food and drinks galore. Here are our all-inclusive picks for your next warm weather getaway.
With 15 resorts throughout the Caribbean, Sandals Resorts are popular for their "luxury included" all-inclusive vacations. The latest addition to the Sandals family is the lavish Sandals LaSource Grenada (select suites have butler service and balcony plunge pools), and a new Barbados resort will open in January. Upon arrival, you will eat, drink and become very merry. Each room has a fully stocked bar (never mind there's a bar wherever you turn), and starting in the spring, all Sandals Resorts will serve six complimentary house wines from Robert Mondavi. Whether you fancy casual cuisine or fine dining, choices range from pizza and pasta to sushi and steak frites. While Sandals Resorts are for couples only, its sister Beaches Resorts are family-friendly and girlfriend-getaway ready.
In recent years, Club Med -- the grand dame of the all-inclusive vacation -- has been rebranded and remodeled with amenities including beachfront family rooms, a quiet zone for adults and couples and oceanfront dining options. Club Med has 65 exotic destination options in the Caribbean, Africa, Indonesia, Central America and South America, as well as the Alps for those who would rather hit the slopes than frolic on the beach. Part of the resort's new offerings are a partnership with Cirque du Soleil that will launch at Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic in June, where thrill-seeking guests will perform many of the acrobatic tricks showcased in famed Cirque du Soleil productions -- all at no additional cost.
Live it up at the 400-acre Half Moon resort on the North Coast of Jamaica with posh perks like an equestrian center and a dolphin lagoon. Named after its private, crescent-shaped, two-mile white sand beach, guests can book an a la carte stay or add on one of three all-inclusive packages that include deluxe accommodations, roundtrip airport transfers from Montego Bay, unlimited golf green fees for the 18-hole championship course, up to three spa treatments depending on the length of stay, water sports and breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts
Award-winning Karisma Hotels & Resorts in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe have stepped up the all-inclusive model with their Gourmet Inclusive concept. That means top-shelf services and amenities like 24-hour room service, personal concierge service and of course, gourmet cuisine prepared by chefs trained at Michelin-starred restaurants. As an added incentive for families, in summer 2015 Azul Hotels by Karisma will offer a Nickelodeon vacation experience where the kids can dine and interact with beloved characters like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.