Which All-Inclusive Brand Would Fit Your Honeymoon?
Every year my number one honeymoon resort request is for all-inclusive resorts. These resorts are excellent and increasing in popularity, and they are popping up in new and compelling destinations, like Italy and Spain. All-inclusive resorts offer great steal and the freedom of knowing the cost before you book. But there are thousands of hotels; most are independently run, but dozens of large brands have multiple resorts. The Sandals Resorts are the most well-known, but several alternatives are just as lovely as Sandals that you might not know. I will reveal some of the best adults-only all-inclusive brands, where each brand excels, and what could work.
Secrets Resorts by AMR Resort
5-Star resorts located in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, St Maarten, and Spain
Most Well-Rounded Brand
Pros: the Secrets are the most well-rounded; each offers a great experience with multiple restaurants & bars and lots of fun activities. The resorts are medium in size, but the amenities feel like a larger resort. Even the least expensive room categories are large and well-appointed. Secrets will fit many different types of honeymooners. Do you love to party the night away? No problem, there are many clubs and bars to keep you entertained. Do you want romance and privacy? Choose one of Secrets Preferred Club Suites located in exclusive areas of each resort.
Cons: Secrets are all nice, and I can send you to any one of them, and you will have a good time, but they are also kind of cookie cutter. One is pretty similar to each of the others. And they aren't where you want to go if you want an authentic experience.
5-Star Resorts located in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic
Best Rooms & Suites
Pros: The Excellence Resorts have extensive and varied accommodations at a price point accessible to many people. The rooms are gorgeous and huge. Private Pools, loft suites, private bungalows, swim-out rooms, you name it; Excellence has it. If you want to ball on a budget, any Excellence would be a great choice. The resorts are also very romantic; they provide tons of little nooks and gazebos for snuggling and privacy.
Cons: Service at Excellence isn't as much of a priority as it is in other all-inclusive brands. Excellence has a history of advertising more than it can deliver without fixing the situation. I had clients that booked double beds but received a king. The resort refused to move them to the room category they booked unless they upgraded. Also, I have had clients complain that the service they received was noticeably less attentive if they didn't book an Excellence Club Room. I advise everyone to upgrade to the club level at Excellence.
Palace Resorts (including the Hard Rock Resorts)
5-Star resorts located in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica
Best for Active Couples
Pros: the Palace resorts are enormous, with dozens of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. But they also offer unique activities that no other resort brand offers, like their legendary jam sessions with a Fender guitar at the Hard Rocks. To sum up, the Palace brand, the resorts are fun and hip. Every day provides opportunities for trying something new.
Cons: the resorts are so large that it is overwhelming to couples. The Hard Rock has 19 bars and restaurants, making it almost impossible to experience them all. You can also be very far from everything you want to see and do. Also, not every resort is adults-only, but they do have adults-only regions.
El Dorado by Karisma Resorts
5-Star resorts located in Mexico
Best Food and Most Authentic
Pros: the El Dorado resorts are authentically Mexican and concentrate on cuisine! Each property features many eateries highlighting vibrant local flavors and ingredients. El Dorado resorts have Michelin-rated restaurants specializing in farm-to-table dishes. Foodies will want to experience their culinary theater. El Dorado also offers various stand-out room categories, the most spectacular of which is their overwater Palafitos. It's the closest you can get to a thatched-roof Tahitian overwater bungalow you can get in this hemisphere.
Cons: not much to complain about with El Dorado resorts. They are well run, and the service is excellent. My main issue is that the grounds are very lush, so you most like won't be able to see the ocean from your "oceanfront" room due to all trees in your sightline. Also, they are trying to build a reef so that the water can be choppy with lots of concrete slabs. If you are going purely for beach quality, you might want to look elsewhere.
Zoetry by AMR Resorts
Five and 6-Star resorts located in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Spain
Most Luxurious and Romantic
Pros: the Zoetry resorts are the most luxurious of any major all-inclusive brands. They offer an idyllic combination of premier luxury, seclusion, and relaxation. You will find unparalleled pampering, personalized service, and unique experiences. There are no check-in or check-out times, VIP arrival (plan on limos and yachts), maid service three times a day, twice daily restocked mini-bar, 24-hour concierge and butlers, nightly turndown service, and so much more! Also, the rooms are HUGE for instance, the smallest room at the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita is almost 1200 square feet. If you want to rock star treatment, Zoetry is perfect for you.
Cons: Price, Zoetry resorts are pricier than other alternatives, and there isn't a lot of variety. The hotels are small and intimate by design so that you won't find tons of restaurants and bars. Nightlife is pretty much nonexistent, although the resorts do have exchange privileges with other AMR resorts if there are any nearby. If you want the option for some nightlife, make sure to book a Zoetry near a Secrets!
Riu and Iberostar Resorts
Four & 5-star resorts located throughout the world
Best for Saving Money
You may have noticed that I have not spoken about either of the two largest all-inclusive brands, and there is a reason for that. I don't particularly like either, and I don't recommend them to honeymooners. The experience at these is not up to the quality of the others on this list. The food, rooms, and beaches aren't up to snuff. As with all things, there are some exceptions for each (which I will get into in a future article). In general, if you are looking at Riu, choose a Riu Palace. If you are looking at Iberostar, go with an Iberostar Grand.
You have it; these are the best all-inclusive brands (other than Sandals) in the Caribbean and Mexico. This blog is a quick overview of the brands, and I will go into more detail with each brand in the coming weeks. You won't want to miss that! So which all-inclusive brands do you love?