All-inclusive resorts promise a simplified vacation: One upfront fee covers food, drinks and select activities, so you can focus on relaxing with a cocktail in hand instead of worrying about your spending. However, not every all-inclusive accommodation option offers the same budget-conscious bang for your buck; some can end up costing much more than you may be hoping to pay thanks to extra fees for amenities like kids clubs or meals at specialty restaurants.
These U.S. News picks for affordable resorts are properties where two guests can stay for around $250 or less per night in one room. These prices may not be available year-round: You may need to settle for off-peak travel periods, or reserve well in advance for peak periods (usually December to April for sun destinations). Round-trip flights are not factored into these prices, but many of the resorts below offer packages that include these.
Whether you’re dreaming of a family-friendly beach trip or an adults-only escape, these reasonably priced all-inclusive resorts across the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada ensure a memorable travel experience that won’t break the bank.
Amenities and activities abound at Iberostar Selection Cancún, one of the best all-inclusive family resorts in Cancun. A starting rate of around $240 per night (depending on the time of year and room style) covers all of the bases at this five-star establishment: meals and drinks, on-site beach access, free Wi-Fi connectivity, 10 pools, a children’s program, a FIFA regulation soccer field, live evening entertainment, tennis, parking and a fitness center. Extras like babysitting and beauty salon services are available for a fee. This Cancún resort’s clean, modern guest rooms include room service, coffee makers, daily minibar service, bathrobes, flat-screen TVs and more. Past travelers commended the caring staff, relaxing pool areas and abundance of things to do for the whole family.
(Courtesy of Sunscape Resorts & Spas)
At this resort, you won’t need a wristband to enjoy the property’s limitless amenities. That’s because rates include reservation-free meals and drinks across six restaurants and seven bars, plus access to kids and teens clubs, four pools, and a wide white sand beach. Included activities range from kayaking to land activities such as beach volleyball, rock climbing and tennis, with golf and various water sports available for additional fees. There is also a casino and a spa on-site (not included in the rate). Guests can take the complimentary shuttle to downtown Willemstad, a city in Curaçao, should you wish to explore colorful, Dutch colonial-style architecture – a unique draw among the Caribbean islands – off the property.
Recent travelers were particularly fond of the variety of food options and live entertainment at this resort. In-room amenities include minibars, flat-screen TVs, coffee makers and Wi-Fi access (which may cost extra, depending on your accommodation choice). Nightly all-inclusive rates start around $250 per night for two guests in a standard room, including taxes.
Catalonia Royal La Romana is an adults-only, all-inclusive property in the small resort town of Bayahibe, which sits about 45 miles southwest of Punta Cana. With fewer than 120 guest rooms and suites, this resort differs from the larger complexes found across the Dominican Republic. In fact, some vacationers have said it has the feel of a boutique hotel. Accommodations are modern and clean, decorated in neutral colors with pops of sea foam green. All offer amenities like a balcony or terrace, free Wi-Fi, bathrobes, a minibar, and towels for the pool and beach; some rooms even have swim-up access. Standard rates start around $240 per night for two. This cost includes meals, snacks and certain alcoholic beverages at various buffet-style restaurants, a la carte venues and bars, as well as gratuities and entertainment throughout the day and night. You also get access to sports facilities (including a free scuba diving lesson in the pool), a private beach, a swimming pool and a solarium.
Located in Puerto Plata, a beach town on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, BlueBay Villas Doradas is a great spot to unwind away from the kids. Travelers can stay at the adults-only, all-inclusive property for as low as $160 per night for two guests. Rates include prime access to the warm sands of Playa Dorada, meals and drinks at four restaurants, and plenty of on-site activities and entertainment options. You’ll have access to a swim-up bar, and there is also an 18-hole golf course nearby (additional fees apply). Be aware, however, that certain amenities like Wi-Fi and beach towels come at an extra cost. Recent travelers were mostly pleased with the resort, noting the top-notch service and abundance of beach and pool chairs.
Skip the obvious all-inclusive destinations and consider heading a little further south to this adults-only property on Costa Rica‘s Pacific coast. The Occidental Papagayo offers tiled rooms that are simple yet offer all the necessities: Wi-Fi, air conditioning, minibar, and satellite TV. Accommodations with a view over beautiful Culebra Bay are sometimes available for just a few dollars extra per night. Out in the resort, you can lounge by two pools and choose between a variety of bars and restaurants on the premises; the nearest beach is less than 2 miles away, with shuttles available to get there. The activities here reflect Costa Rica’s prominence as an ecotourism destination, with options like kayaking and exotic animal tours on offer; cycle tours and a spa are also an option if you’re willing to pay extra.
Double occupancy rooms typically start around $220 per night (or sometimes lower), and it’s possible to find affordable rates in the peak season. Previous guests have complimented the friendly staff at the resort, particularly the bartenders, as well as the gorgeous natural setting. The resort is best accessed via a 15-mile drive from Liberia Airport, which offers direct connections to a number of major U.S. and Canadian cities.
Located around 45 miles east of Montego Bay (where you’ll find the nearest major airport), Bahia Principe Luxury Runaway Bay offers an upscale adults-only experience without breaking the bank. With 525 rooms, it’s on the larger side, and there are plenty of white sand beaches right alongside the property offering hammocks, a bar and waiter service. This resort in Jamaica also boasts three interconnected swimming pools; for something more lively, enjoy an array of aquatic sports such as kayaking, snorkeling and catamaran sailing. The earthy toned rooms offer comfort aplenty with canopy beds, robes, slippers, a pillow menu, 24-hour room service, a living room space, and a balcony or terrace. Previous guests complimented the Jamaican food like jerk chicken on offer at some of the five restaurants, and the aesthetic beauty of the resort. Rooms for two guests start around $245, with better availability in the off-peak season.
(Courtesy of Occidental at Xcaret Destination)
If you’re willing to travel at off-peak periods (from around August to November), it’s possible to nab a room at a five-star resort like the Occidental at Xcaret Destination for less than $250 per night for two guests. Situated just outside Playa del Carmen, the property has a whopping 765 rooms and suites, many of which can accommodate families. In those rooms, expect a king bed (or two doubles) and a regularly restocked minibar, as well as a balcony or terrace looking over the resort’s lush, tropical grounds.
Outside the rooms, there’s plenty to experience: You can choose between 20-plus restaurants and bars (including a nightclub) that offer everything from tacos to Asian cuisine to Italian food. There’s also a private lagoon-style white sand beach for swimming, plus seven pools (including a kids pool). Sporty travelers will be well served by the activities on offer, which include tennis, archery and shuffleboard, plus nonmotorized aquatic sports; there’s also plenty of natural attractions in the surrounding area. Past visitors have noted the wide range of activities, including options for children, and the resort’s spacious rooms and grounds.
If you’re hoping to head to the white sands of Cozumel, a popular island just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, El Cozumeleño Beach Resort is one of the cheapest choices. Choose between rooms facing the garden or out to the ocean (typically more expensive), all with terraces or balconies. Out in the resort, the all-inclusive rates include free diving lessons in a pool and snorkel hire, as well as other activities like kayaking, tennis, and dance classes. For relaxation, there’s five pools (including one indoor option), two hot tubs and a private beach, as well as the upscale Veranda restaurant, casual Cocal eatery and an assortment of bars. Recent guests describe El Cozumeleño as a great place to relax, with particularly friendly staff. Per-night costs hover around the $240 per-night mark for two guests, with those prices are available during both on- and off-peak Caribbean travel periods.
For an affordable option within reach of Puerto Vallarta, consider Paradise Village Nuevo Vallarta, located just under 10 miles from the center of the popular resort city. The all-inclusive plan encompasses unlimited food and beverages, gratuities, nonmotorized water sports, Wi-Fi and more. Stays for two guests on this plan can be booked for less than $250 per night (including some dates during peak season). You’ll enjoy access to two lagoon-style pools with slides, hot tubs and waterfalls – plus another lap pool for workouts and a kids area. If you head to the beach, palapas and chairs are available. A long list of sporty activities from bocce to kayaking is also on offer. To eat, the array of restaurants includes options for Mexican, Italian and sushi, plus the Copan Sunset Sky Bar for drinks with a view. Recent visitors say that Paradise Village is a good bet for family vacations, thanks to the plentiful activities at the property.
(Courtesy of Riu Hotels & Resorts)
Look beyond classic all-inclusive destinations such as the Dominican Republic or Mexico for great deals such as at Hotel Riu Playa Blanca, about 75 miles out of Panama City. This modern property, opened less than a decade ago, features a sleeker design than your average older all-inclusive, with a red and white color scheme in its hotel-style rooms. These accommodations all come with free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a balcony or terrace.
The resort is a good place for a relaxed trip: Out in the property you’ll have access to three main pools (plus another for kids) and the beach Playa Blanca, right on the Pacific. For activities, there’s sporty options like volleyball as well as a kids club, and by night you can enjoy live music and a discotheque. In addition to activities and entertainment, the all-inclusive fares cover all meals, snacks and beverages. Dining spans a buffet, Asian restaurant and steakhouse, among other options. Rates start at a very affordable $180 per night for a couple, and that price is available in peak periods. Past visitors have noted that the resort is ultra clean, and with very friendly staff.
This all-inclusive resort sits just under 50 miles from Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, and has the unusual feature of a volcanic black sand beach at its doorstep. Whether you’re lounging there or near the pool, the resort’s lush gardens give the feel of a tropical paradise. Activities include hits like kayaking and beach volleyball, as well as some more unique options like a coffee class and palm weaving. Eating and drinking are well catered, with three main restaurants, a snack bar and another four bars, including poolside options. Given Costa Rica’s prominence as an ecotourism destination, you may also want to visit the pristine rainforests or tropical islands in the area (however, such excursions aren’t included in the rates). Previous guests love the proximity to nature and the option to go on wildlife tours, though some travelers feel the resort caters more to locals. Rates go as low as $188 per couple per night, including in peak seasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s no one agency or website that offers the best deals for every all-inclusive resort. Instead, a solid approach is to use a website like Kayak or Expedia to search for resorts that have cheaper pricing available at the time you want to travel. Then, once you have the names of a few affordable options, you can shop around different agencies or websites to see which one offers the cheapest deal.
If you’re on the hunt for an all-inclusive deal, it’s important to think about your timing, both in terms of when you’re booking and when you want to travel. Better deals tend to involve traveling when there’s less demand. According to Laura Sangster, founder of luxury travel agency Caribbean Journey, this is usually the months of September and October for all-inclusives in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.
“This is when hotels, including all-inclusive resorts, experience the lowest occupancy and thus offer the best deals in an effort to fill rooms. Historically, these have been very active hurricane months. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov 30, so rates within this period are always less than December to May.”
Sangster notes that it’s also possible to find last-minute resort deals for travel during these more popular months, but that she doesn’t recommend holding out for such bargains.
“While you might benefit from a decreased hotel rate, airfares currently price the other way and will only be more expensive closer to travel,” she says. “It’s also important to plan ahead to ensure you are able to secure the room category you want.”
Instead, Sangster recommends booking well in advance to get better prices, particularly if you’re hoping to travel during peak season. “We saw very few deals during the 2021 and 2022 peak seasons. All-inclusive resorts seemed to follow a trend of increasing as the weeks and months ticked by,” she says. “Our clients who didn’t book the initial proposal we prepared often faced higher rates when they came back to book weeks or months later.”
Unfortunately, there isn’t one easy answer to this question. It’s generally possible to find cruise fares at a cheaper price than all-inclusive vacations, but cruises are known for having more hidden costs that can rack up during your trip. For example, not all cruise fares include alcoholic drinks; you may need to purchase a beverage package on a per-day basis, which could quickly add to your bill. This isn’t the only possible extra cost: You may also have to pay more to access some restaurants on board or for excursions when the ship docks.
In contrast, all-inclusive resorts usually include a lot more in the price. For instance, drinks (including alcohol) are generally included, and you’ll often be able to eat at all restaurants in a resort without paying extra. It’s still possible to incur additional charges for services like spa treatments or some activities like a scuba diving trip, but such fees tend to be for much more obvious added extras. The best way to know which option is cheaper is to do your research before booking – look at what a cruise fare does and doesn’t include, and try to figure out how much you’ll need to pay in extra fees to have the vacation you want. For more help, consult this U.S. News article on whether a cruise or all-inclusive resort is right for you.