The concept of an all-inclusive resort is simple – and for many harried holidaymakers, simplicity is the appeal. For one all-in price, guests enjoy unlimited food, drinks and activities in dreamy beachfront locations. You put your wallet away, order all the margaritas, and eat three lunches a day if you darn well please. There’s an afternoon aqua aerobics class for that.
American and Canadian travellers have been avid fans of the concept for decades, eagerly booking an annual week of prepaid fun in the sun in Mexico or the Caribbean. For Aussies, though, it’s not as commonplace.
With the exception of Club Med, we tend not to seek out all-inclusive resorts. Perhaps it’s time we did. Look at it this way – inclusive accommodation offers many of the same worry-free benefits as luxury cruising, on land.
In Mexico, the all-inclusive holiday model has been perfected. Hospitality brands such as Secrets, Grand Velas, Excellence and Le Blanc deliver resorts so dreamy, guests are content not to leave for the duration of their stay. That’s not ideal for go-it-alone adventurous types, who are happier off scaling mountains than swimming up to a bar. But for a restful few days of indulgence at the end of a busy multi-city holiday, it could be just the tonic.
Many of the ultra-luxurious Mexican resorts are in Los Cabos. The windswept, oceanfront Baja Peninsula corridor connects arty San Jose Del Cabo and party-central Cabo San Lucas. Along the corridor can be found sprawling, modern resorts where churros service by the infinity pool and in-room mezcal tastings are just the tip of the indulgence iceberg.
The area has garnered a reputation as a premium culinary hub, attracting top chefs and sommeliers to six-star resorts and international food festivals. Year-round sunny weather and the opportunity to swim with whale sharks prove a potent draw.
Many visitors to the destination opt for an all-inclusive stay, seduced by the ease of flying in and flopping within reach of free-flow cocktails on the beach and endless lobster tacos. There are some three-to-four-star all-in properties for the budget-minded, where the liquor is local and the facilities are comfortable, rather than spectacular. But most visitors, especially the honeymooners and cashed-up frequent flyers, want the ultra-wow experience. At Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos, they get it.
The adults-only resort is one of the newest properties to open in the area, a dazzling fantasy of white marble floors, white sun lounges and white Bulgari bath products. Are you sensing a theme?
Guests are assigned a dedicated personal butler, who make it their mission to offer help you didn’t even know you needed. If there’s luggage to be unpacked, a bath to be drawn or a bottle of booze to be opened, the butler squad is at the ready.
There is absolutely zero risk of running out of Pringles. Complimentary bottles of tequila and red wine are placed in the room, along with a daily refreshed minibar with top-shelf branded spirits. A Lavazza coffee maker comes in handy the morning after.
Dining choices at Le Blanc could rattle anyone with a tendency to experience FOMO. Will it be Asian cuisine, Italian family-style nosh, Lebanese mezze, pizza or an international buffet? There’s a separate, tastefully decorated venue for each type of food. Lumiere, the formal French restaurant, is recommended for at least one (long) meal during a stay.
Most guests will end up returning to Blanc Ocean a few times during their visit. With its waterfront location and breezy open-air aesthetic, the upscale Mexican beach cafe serves crispy tostadas loaded with tuna and spicy mango, soft shell crab tacos and much more. Grapefruit-infused silver tequila is the foundation of la paloma cocktails, the perfect complement to a seafood lunch.
The Le Blanc spa, inspired by Greco-Roman hydrotherapy rituals, is also included in the nightly rate. Guests are invited to surrender to a journey that begins with a cinnamon-infused sauna, continues on to a starlit steam room followed by an ice room, before ending in the therapeutic pools of varying temperatures.
It’s the kind of spa experience you might expect to pay several hundred dollars for and it’s even more relaxing to float out at the end of the treatment without being asked to part with a cent.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING AN ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT
This can vary widely from a couple of hundred dollars a day to well over $1000. Do you want top-shelf liquor or will local labels do the job? How important is butler service to you? Will you make use of the championship golf course?
Take a look on TripAdvisor to see how impassioned all-inclusive resort guests become when leaving very detailed reviews, perhaps after making use of the open bar.
GROWN-UPS OR GROWN-ISH?
Adults-only resorts offer a totally different experience to family-friendly properties with kids’ clubs and wading pools.
Find out if there’s an extra cost for airport transfers, spa treatments, water sports, premium beverages and special event dining. Many resorts will offer room credit to be used on anything from souvenir photos to excursions if you book direct.
FIVE OF THE BEST DESTINATIONS FOR ALL-INCLUSIVE HOLIDAYS
Hugely popular with American and Canadian holidaymakers, the all-inclusive resorts of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos promise boozy fun in the sun.
Operators want tourists to know that 14 of the 16 major islands of the Bahamas were not affected by the recent hurricane. All-inclusive resorts on Nassau, Paradise Island, the Exumas and Harbour Island are open for business.
You’ll find reggae bands, rum cocktails and jerk chicken on the menu at Jamaican all-inclusive beach hotels. A romantic destination, it has a wide range of adults-only resorts.
TURKS & CAICOS
One of the priciest Caribbean destinations with the potential for holiday budget blow-outs. Stay at an all-inclusive resort and you’ll know the costs upfront. .
Get extra bang for buck at budget-friendly all-inclusive beach resorts. The bigger properties are clustered in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.
Kristie Kellahan was a guest of Los Cabos Tourism, Le Blanc Spa Resort and Grand Velas Los Cabos.
There are daily connections from Los Angeles to Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) on multiple airlines. See delta.com
Two of the newest, most-highly rated all-inclusive resorts in Los Cabos are Le Blanc Spa Resort and Grand Velas. Both feature luxury accommodations, expansive spa and wellness facilities, enormous pools and many choices of international restaurants and bars. See leblancsparesorts.com; loscabos.grandvelas.com