It’s human nature to want more for your money, and as inflation continues to climb, one could argue that it’s now necessary to get exactly that. All-inclusive resorts already corner the market in value; since the first one opened 70-plus years ago in the 1950s, they’ve developed a list of default inclusions that go miles beyond the standard three meals, soft drinks, and “simple straw huts” of the time. Today, any all-inclusive resort worth its (sea) salt offer all meals, snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, a full schedule of daytime activities, non-motorized water sports, lounge chairs by the pool and beach, evening entertainment, and even room service.
But as the all-inclusive market gets more crowded, hotel brands are in stiff competition to outdo one another and deliver the next big wow. And that’s good news for travel professionals and travelers. When vacationers Plan with a Pro, they’re privy to insider intel on who’s doing the most for their guests and which properties are not only bending over backwards, but practically somersaulting to provide the highest value experience with bar-raising inclusions.
Here are some of the all-inclusive resorts you should put on your radar if you’re looking to max out on the bang you get for every buck while on vacation in Mexico and Dominican Republic.
Falcon’s Resort by Meliá
Yes, the Meliá brand has the elevated The Level (in addition to their celebrated The Reserve at Paradisus by Meliá), but this sub-brand takes it to a whole new one – sky-high, actually. This “resortainment experience” goes well beyond expectations thanks to the included Katmandu Park passes (multi-day for Beyond room categories) that provide access to the leading theme park in the area. Patented, never-seen-before ride tech, interactive storytelling, and more. Big hits include Expedition Golf™ featuring not one but two scenic mini-golf courses; a 4D dark ride called Legend of the Desirata™ that whips you around the Himalayas and its legends; an interactive walk-through attraction where adventurers battle mages; the Quadragon™ obstacle and agility course, and more.
It doesn’t end there, though. Also included is admission to BLAST!, a waterpark for all ages, and the Habitat Kids Club for ages 1 – 17. These are obviously right on site for convenience, just steps away from the other leveled-up features, such as an all-suite layout, which features separate sleep and living areas. For even more space, book two guaranteed connecting suites, which double your dining and lounging areas. These feature a king-sized bed in one room and a pair of doubles in the other, plus sofa beds and a chaise for even more surfaces to lay one’s head down for relaxation. The inclusions keep on coming when booking the Beyond Experience, which comes with personalized concierge service, priority reservations for activities and restaurants, bigger suites, turn-down, and a dinner show at the Beyond Pool, where interactive LED walls and underwater pool music enhance the “resortainment” factor.
AIC Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
One of the original almighty mega-resorts, this behemoth property on one of the best strips of sand in Punta Cana … and far beyond. Its grounds include Rockaway Bay Water Park, an enormous casino, a full-size destination nightclub called ORO, and countless venues, open spaces, and stages for the live entertainment they always have slated. In keeping with their music theme, an added extra value inclusion is access to their Music Lab, which is an amazing all-ages program across the brand.
With Music Lab, guests can make their own professionally produced music video with up to three companions; play in a jam band of up to seven, complete with the coaching of a Rock Specialist who gets the group ready to rock a live audience at the program’s end, plus guitars on loan for private concerts in your own room. All of this is complimentary for guests, but resort credit good toward spa treatments, tours, and unlimited golf at the nearby Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course just keep on piling up the value.
Kids get their own set of bonuses here, too. The Roxity Kids Club at this location (admission for which is always included) has a mini kitchen for cooking classes, their own pint-sized theater, indoor basketball court, trampoline zone, playground with slides and climbing structures, and programs that are updated regularly, it’s safe to say that there’s never any lack of extras for the younger set.
AIC Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
Pretty much all of the AIC Hard Rock Hotels share the same added benefits: free calling back home to the States, dance, yoga, and stretching classes, the Roxity Kids Club, Music Lab programs (which may vary by property), plentiful live entertainment to pick up where the daytime activities leave off (a miniscule gap, we assure you!), facilities like state-of-the-art oversized fitness centers, to name a few.
However, this large property, which features an adults only Heaven side, adds on more extras with their own Rockaway Bay Water Park, free golf at nearby courses, and unlimited access to the resort’s hydrotherapy circuit. Spa-goers will know that this isn’t an inclusion you typically get without booking a spa treatment, but at this sprawling property, you can pamper yourself on their water journey as often as you like. And even better, you can unwind after your unwinding with your favorite furry friend. Nope, we’re not talking about one of the characters from the kids club – this property is unique for its Unleashed! program, which welcomes up to two cats and dogs to visit at a bargain rate of $150 (try finding a pet-sitter for that price!) per week in select room categories and spoils them with a sWag bag, memory foam beds, and designated areas for them to enjoy.
Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa
Another resort where families get the primo treatment? This one. Those who book the Family Selection room categories experience hotel-within-a-hotel upgrades that helps keep every member feel calm, collected, and supremely spoiled – even if they’re staying for free. (Which, by the way, is a thing for up to two kids or teens at this property.) It starts with a private check-in, ultra-personalized amenities, access to private areas and facilities, 24-hour room service, a surprise bubble bath with toys and amenities, milk and cookies turndown, a kid-friendly minibar, on-demand video games in the room, and a Family Host/butler to make sure the stay is seamless. This host can be clutch for helping guests make reservations, setting up pool areas, spend the $1,500 resort credit they get with this category, as well as guiding them to the facilities and restaurants the parents and guardians have access to for the adults-only TRS Coral Hotel nearby. The latter is part of the Absolute Indulgence offer, which works like a free pass to same-tier sister properties in the area.
All of that is on top of the already expanded inclusions the brand has to offer, including salsa and merengue dance classes, Spanish language lessons, mini-golf, basketball and tennis tournaments, and the Play at Palladium with Raggs program, featuring meet and greets with characters from this Emmy Award-winning live action TV series, dining and musical experiences, and fully produced live musical stage shows at the on-site theatres.
If all of that sounds good but you’re looking for a different destination, consider Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa where one child under 12 can stay for free in Family Selection categories, or the soon-to-come Family Selection at Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya.
Lopesan Costa Bávaro Resort, Spa & Casino
This resort’s extras are more about delivering the expected, but on a higher level. They don’t just have a couple of hotel pools, they have seven gorgeous ones, and every guest is given a welcome beach bag they can take home with them. Not only are all drinks included, they’re all top shelf. And not only do they have dance lessons, they specifically offer bachata and merengue.
Evening entertainment is more than expected, with an on-site casino and variety shows that feature a live orchestra at a state-of-the-art amphitheater, live performances such as The Concerts by Lopesan series, and dancers. During the day, there are a ton of physical activities to choose from, such as Aquagym, water polo, spin classes, yoga, and all of the Hammer Strength equipment at the state of the art gym. Plus, Splash Island Waterpark takes water slides to an extreme in this child-geared attraction, with immense looping, spiraling slides stretched out across an aquatic playground. Then there’s the kids club, hosted by Lopesan’s official mascot Panchi, that keeps them busy well into the night with hours that end at 10 PM. Plus, there’s a teens club called Vibe so that those ages 12 – 16 have their own place to go without being part of the mini crew. That is, when they’re not hanging on The Boulevard, an exclusive leisure and recreational zone for all.
Plus, with unlimited in-room calls to North America and most European countries, this next generation of Lopesan loyalists can spend all the time they want telling their grandparents and friends why this is a vacation they’ll never forget.
Bahia Principe Grand Coba
Ideal for families who prefer the convenience, predictability, and more controlled environment of the pool but still want access to a lovely beach, this resort has those options in spades. There’s a water park just for kids, but beyond that, there’s also the Bahia Scouts kids club that offers a wide range of activities organized by age groups. These can include Eco Bahia outdoor walks, scavenger hunts, tennis lessons, cooking lessons, arts and crafts workshops where they learn to make masks, kites and piñatas with recycled materials, and more.
And while food and beverages are the foundation of any all-inclusive stay, this property gives guests a breadth of choices that outspans many competitors. There are 14 restaurants and seven bars at their disposal since guests at Grand Coba also have access to Bahia Principe Grand Tulum'. Just plan accordingly, as you only get three à la carte dinners per week of stay and you’ll need a reservation for each. And if you’re lucky enough to get all of those squared away, try to see if that extends to the on-site casino!
For a roundup of hotel resorts with their own water parks (and free unlimited admission for their guests!), click here. We’ve also gathered some of the best resorts with included attraction admission here! And for a resort with more inclusions than can be “included” in just a couple of short paragraphs, read our deep dive on Hotel Xcaret and Casa de la Playa.