The all-inclusive vacation is the easiest and cheapest trip for families who need some tropical chill time to reset and reconnect. You pay everything upfront and hardly need to make another decision after that. Meals are taken care of, daytime activities (including kids’ clubs) and nightly entertainment are built in, and all you need to do is put out your hand for accepting a margarita.
We’ve rounded up some surprisingly affordable all inclusive resort options for your 2020 vacation… as if you need any more arm-twisting.
1. Viva Wyndham Maya – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Located on a wide stretch of white-sand beach, Viva Wyndham Maya is an excellent value for families looking for adventurous onsite activities that are part of the all-inclusive rate—about $1,500 per week for a family of four. Kids and adults can learn to do the high-flying trapeze or take Caribbean dancing lessons with fun instructors. There are plenty of water sports including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. The PADI dive center can arrange a scuba excursion or lessons at an extra charge. Drop off your littles at the kids’ club so you can hit the swim-up bar, work out with a personal trainer in the fitness center, or enjoy a resort spa treatment (extra). Nightly shows in the 600-seat amphitheater are entertaining for the whole family and typically begin with a high-energy mini disco that the kids love.
2. El Cozumeleno – Cozumel, Mexico
Just north of San Miguel on the laidback island of Cozumel, this no-frills, three-star oceanfront property is cheap on the wallet, at typically less than $1,500 for a week for a family of four. El Cozumeleno is a smallish all-inclusive resort, with 252 guestrooms and two restaurants. With the smaller size, it’s easier to get to know other families because you tend to cross paths more often at the kids’ club and elsewhere, which adds to the resort’s cozy atmosphere. Join your new family friends for snorkeling, kayaking, bicycle tours, aerobics, or evening shows. Divers will appreciate the onsite PADI dive center for booking dives in this world-renowned scuba destination. Across the street at the Cozumel Country Club, you can golf an 18-hole course, a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary also popular for its birdwatching tours.
3. Hotel Riu – Cancun, Mexico
This surprisingly cheap beachfront resort—only about $1,400 per week for a family of four—looks like something you’d see along the shores of the Mediterranean. It’s actually in another ideal location, about a five-minute walk from the Cancun strip. Hotel Riu Cancun is a Caribbean gem with modern rooms and ocean views overlooking the white-sand beach. For what you pay, you might not expect upscale amenities, but this resort offers several, including a spa, gym, kids’ club, infinity pool, and four specialty restaurants: Japanese, Italian, a steakhouse, and gourmet option. There’s also a 24-hour sports bar, and each guestroom features the Riu-signature free-pouring liquor dispensers.
4. Moon Palace – Cancun, Mexico
Since kids stay free, just under $2,000 gets you a week in a Superior Deluxe Ocean Front room (great for a family of four) at the Moon Palace Cancun, one of the best all-inclusive family resorts in Mexico. Guestrooms at this five-star resort include an oceanfront balcony, double whirlpool tub, free Wi-Fi and a Smart TV. The all-inclusive package covers everything from top-shelf drinks and paddleboard yoga for parents to brick-oven pizza, a Wired Lounge arcade and a FlowRider wave simulator that kids love. Depending on how many nights you stay, you’ll receive a resort credit that can be used either onsite at the spa and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course or offsite for a dolphin swim, snorkeling tour or other activity.
5. Hacienda Encantada Resort & Residences – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
On a cliffside overlooking the Sea of Cortez, this 4.5-star all-inclusive resort gives families a premium experience for about $2,600 per week. Designed in traditional Mexican style, Hacienda Encantada caters to the younger set with a kids’ club, playground, trampoline, splash pad and zero-entry children’s pool. Horseback riding is included, and families can ride together through the desert and see ocean views. The resort raises the bar on all-inclusive cuisine with quality and variety at its eight bars and restaurants. Although the resort beach isn’t swimmable (like most in Cabo), the resort has several other activities onsite: biking, basketball, beach volleyball, tennis, pool games and a spa.
6. Paradise Village – Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
The best beaches in Puerto Vallarta are just north of town, and the beautiful Paradise Village sits on one of them. For an all-inclusive package with a one-bedroom suite (sleeps four), Paradise Village is about $2,200 per week. Families love the themed nights that combine dinner with live entertainment, which could be anything from a fiesta with a Mexican cowboy show to a tropical Latino night with music and dancing. If sun loungers aren’t your thing, you can try beach volleyball, tennis, or boogie boarding with the kids. The kids’ club runs fun activities all day long. Just be sure to save time for the resort’s wildlife sanctuary that preserves and rehabilitates several rare and endangered species including monkeys, Bengal tigers and parrots.
7. Royal Decameron Complex – Bucerias, Mexico
A 20-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta International Airport, the Royal Decameron Complex is a colorful, sprawling resort and a steal at less than $1,900 per week for a family of four. This large 600-room resort sits on a beautiful beach just outside of the quaint town of Bucerias and offers amenities in several pockets throughout the property: five pools, seven bars, three buffet restaurants and five a la carte restaurants. The complex is so large you’ll want to check the resort map so you don’t miss out on something. Everything you need is here, including windsurfing, kayaking and snorkeling by day and live entertainment each night. Be sure to wander into the little town for the market and lots of shops.
8. IBEROSTAR Costa Dorada – Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Five-star luxury is surprisingly affordable in the Dominican Republic at IBEROSTAR Costa Dorada. You’ll pay about $2,500 per week for a family of four. Located on a beautiful beach, the all-inclusive resort is nearly as stunning as the beach with three pools, an orchid garden and peacocks and flamingos wandering around the property. Drop your offspring at the kids’ club and go for a spa treatment with a session in the hydro-massage pool or sauna. Resort activities include something for everyone—tennis, aquafit, dance lessons, archery and air rifle shooting. The onsite PADI dive center is convenient for booking your dive excursion or taking a lesson.
9. Occidental Punta Cana – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
At $1,600 per week for a family of four, the recently renovated Occidental Punta Cana is an extreme value on the gorgeous Playa El Cortecito. This 860-room resort features 11 restaurants (including a steakhouse), 10 bars, three pools, two tennis courts, plus unlimited water sports action. During the day the kids can play in the kids’ club while mom and dad unwind at the spa or head out on stand-up paddleboards. Each night, the kids can meet up with their new friends and kids’ club staff at the mini disco while you hit the adult disco. Reconnect at the evening shows for the whole family.
Jamie Moore is a Vancouver Island-based freelance travel writer. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Yahoo News, WestJet magazine, SmarterTravel, WhattoPack.com, and other media outlets. Follow her on Twitter, @jmemoore.