Best all-inclusive family resorts
By Mark Frary, Editor of 101 Family Holidays
An all-inclusive holiday can be a great option for busy families. Pick a resort, pay once, pack your bags and go – relaxed in the knowledge that everything is included, from flights and accommodation, to meals, drinks and activities. Job done.
Of course, to some people, the very concept of an all-inclusive holiday is like an assault on their human rights, depriving them of the freedom and flexibility to plan, peruse and piece together an independent holiday.
Whichever camp you’re in, there’s no denying the peace of mind that comes with all-inclusive family holidays. They not only allow you tighter control over your holiday budget, but also release you from the shackles of a ‘spending money kitty’ while you’re away. You can arrive at an all-inclusive resort with a carefree bounce in your step, your wallet wonderfully bereft of foreign currency or traveller’s cheques.
There’s also an enticing range of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. Read on for my recommendations for top all-inclusive operators, plus suggestions for other types of all-inclusive family holiday, such as safaris, cruises and activity breaks.
All-inclusive family resorts
Club Med can claim to have invented the all-inclusive holiday and it now has 46 resorts worldwide that cater specifically to families. Where it excels it is in the gourmet food, children’s clubs and sports and activities, from horse-riding and golf to the flying trapeze and roller-blading. See the latest offers.
It’s not easy to recommend upmarket family-friendly all-inclusive hotels in the Med that work well with children of all ages, but I’m impressed by IKOS Olivia in the beautiful Halkidiki region of Greece. There’s a choice of rooms, suites and bungalows, some with private pools, and there are beach parties along with live music, a Football Academy, tennis club and mountain biking.
Beaches offers luxury all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica and the Turks & Caicos. Just about everything you could possibly imagine is included: luxurious family suites, all meals, drinks and snacks, supervised kids activities, golf and watersports, airport transfers, butler service, tips, taxes – even weddings!
There’s so much to do at a Beaches resort that you probably won’t see your children for dust. At Beaches Turks & Caicos and Beaches Negril, kids will make a beeline for the Pirates Island Waterparks with their flumes, lazy rivers, surf simulators and swim-up soda bars. Or they’ll get into the swing of Sesame Street with Beaches’ exclusive Caribbean Adventure, featuring stories, parades and treasure hunts with Elmo, Big Bird and the Cookie Monster. Teens can hang out at the XBOX 360 Game Garage, Scratch DJ Academy, TrenchTown Arcade Lounge or their very own nightclub. There are Kids Camps for babies needing nannies, right up to 17-year-olds needing space. Junior golf lessons, scuba training, themed parties, kids-only restaurants, beach Olympics… the list goes on – and it’s all included.
With the kids taken care of, parents can sample up to 19 gourmet restaurants in each resort, indulge in endless spa pampering, unlimited water sports – including scuba diving – or get super-fit playing nonstop tennis and golf.
An all-inclusive offering from Mark Warner, the San Lucianu Beach Resort is set on a sandy beach, with a choice of interconnecting rooms, family rooms and suites with views of the mountains or the sea. Included in your holiday are flights, resort transfers, kids’ clubs, evening childcare and watersports (including tuition in sailing and windsurfing).
We also recommend these flotilla sailing holidays in the Mediterranean, which are great for both beginners and experienced sailors. If you want to learn the ropes first, try this Stay and Sail Holiday.
Presiding over two of Antigua’s glorious beaches, The Verandah Resort & Spa from Tropical Sky is a great all-inclusive choice for families. There’s a great choice also of family-friendly all-inclusive hotels in Barbados including Turtle Beach by Elegant Resorts which has a kids club for ages 3 to 12, open daily until 9pm.
Be sure to also check out Beachcomber Tours, which offers all-inclusive options in Mauritius.
Family activity holidays
Resorts are the obvious choice for all-inclusive family holidays, but they are not the only option. Well known for their residential holiday camps in the UK for 7-17 year-olds, PGL also runs multi-activity family holidays in France. You can combine canoeing down the Ardeche River with watersports on the Med, or a day at Disneyland Paris with archery, abseiling and zip-wiring in the grounds of a nearby chateau. Everything is included, from coach travel and full board accommodation to professional tuition and a packed daily programme of activities.
It’s also non-stop action at one of the seven holiday camps in the UK operated by Kingswood Camps. You can choose from various adventure holidays, such as multi-activity, football academy or surf school.
If you’re heading into the wilds of Africa, there’s little alternative to going all-inclusive. Family safaris usually include transfers, full board accommodation in a lodge or tented camp and guided activities such as game drives, walking safaris and a special programme for kids (bug collecting, bark rubbing, making casts of animal tracks etc).
Natural World Safaris has a selection of tailor-made family safaris in Kenya, including a 12-day bush and beach combo, staying at Lewa Wilderness Lodge near Mt Kenya, Kicheche Mara Camp in the Masai Mara and Funzi Keys on the Indian Ocean coast. Or take a malaria free safari in South Africa.
The Family Adventure Company also puts together an exciting bundle in its Safari & Beach Adventure – a 14-day trip for families with teenage children that combines Tanzania’s wildlife-rich Selous Game Reserve with the exotic culture and beaches of Zanzibar. As well as hotel and lodge accommodation throughout, the trip includes transport by light aircraft, 4WD vehicle, boat, train and minibus, most meals and activities, plus the services of a group leader.
Like safaris, cruises by their very nature, veer towards the all-inclusive realm of family holidays. The big ships are like floating resorts with dining 24/7, children’s clubs and a plethora of activities. P&O Cruises is arguably the best line for families. Its best ships include the Britannia, which has great sports and entertainment facilities for children of all ages, and Ventura, which has a super kids club. Both offer an in-cabin baby listening service plus a night nursery for children aged six months to five years, open every day from 6pm – 2am.
Peter Sommer Travels has some wonderful family cruising holidays, which include full board accommodation on a traditional sailing gulet that not only comes with a skipper and crew, but also an expert guide who will lead your little Lara Crofts on archaeological excursions.
An all-inclusive cruise is also the way to go in the Galapagos Islands. Journey Latin America can arrange voyages on family-friendly boats with spacious cabins, children’s activities and guided shore trips to encounter the archipelago’s extraordinary wildlife.
Last updated: 9 February 2017
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