All-Inclusive Resorts: Changing and Innovating 5

The all-inclusive resort was introduced more than 50 years ago. When they originally debuted, most were known for mediocre buffet food, watered down drinks and hidden charges. Thankfully, times have changed as resorts have innovated.

A traditional all-inclusive resort offers three meals daily, all drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), taxes, daily activities, nightly entertainment, non-motorized water sports and your chosen accommodations. With this plan, you’ll know that most of your potential costs are included. It’s a stress-free way of knowing you can put your purse and wallet in an in-room safe and enjoy the resort unconditionally. For example, if you’re staying at a resort where windsurfing or renting a stand-up paddle board costs extra, you may not be inclined to try it. Staying at an all-inclusive resort removes that obstacle. Doing new and exciting activities makes vacationing more fun and memorable.

Many all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean have been transformed into gleaming, luxurious places. Many are outfitted with gourmet restaurants offering a wide variety of choices, including premium liquor and room service at no extra charge.

Innovation takes many forms. Dana Innocenti, having just returned from her honeymoon at the all-new Secrets Akumal adults-only resort near the Mayan ruins of Tulum, was pleasantly surprised to see an iPad right at her fingertips. The concierge informed her that she could not only book spa treatments and order extra towels directly to her room, but could also order 24-hour room service without even picking up the phone.

In early 2017 (only a four-hour flight from O’Hare), Sandals Montego Bay Resort in Jamaica (adults only) will unveil five stunning over-the-water bungalows on a private off-shore island. The best part is that everything is included: a private outdoor jacuzzi, a shower for two, a hammock hanging above the crystal clear blue water and a glass floor to view marine life.

Also in the Caribbean, the luxury boutique resort of Curtain Bluff is a gem. Located on the island of Antigua on a peninsula between white sand beaches, it is a small, quiet and secluded resort for couples and families where personalized service is key. The resort has two restaurants, a special martini bar evening, an afternoon tea complete with snacks, and all cocktails are top-shelf. The activity program includes windsurfing, paddle boarding and water skiing on the resort’s boat.  Championship tennis courts are popular with clinics at various times of the year. Additionally, Curtain Bluff has a top-notch spa for pampering while the ocean views are truly breathtaking.

One of the all-inclusive resorts and areas that Allie Bieniarz, a lead travel consultant at Lake Zurich Travel, has recently discovered is the Dreams Huatulco on the west coast of Mexico. Huatulco is an unspoiled area that few have discovered. Couples and families alike will enjoy a stay here where most rooms offer views of the ocean and pools. There are five a la carte dinner restaurants to choose from, a large buffet, many bars and a fabulous coffee shop.  The activities from morning-to-night offer something for everyone.

When it comes down to it, there is always something to do at an all-inclusive resort. Just seek professional advice to find the best one for you.

About the Authors: Dana Innocenti and Allie Bieniarz, Lake Zurich Travel lead consultants, along with the rest of the dedicated team, offer a wealth of vacation advice, experience and planning. Learn more at