Simplicity is the genius of the all-inclusive resort, especially when you bring the kids along. Though not as common in the United States as in places like Mexico and the Caribbean, more and more US resorts are adding all-inclusive plans and improving their offerings when it comes to food and amenities. From authentic dude ranches to tropical-beach sanctuaries and mountaintop retreats, we’ve chosen some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the country—because low maintenance means low stress, and isn’t that why you’re on vacation?
By Deb Hopewell
Deb Hopewell is a freelance writer and editor whose travel stories have appeared in Fodors.com, TravelandLeisure.com, FourSeasons.com, Yahoo Travel, and the San Jose Mercury News, among others.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
WHERE: Port St. Lucie, Florida
This collection of resorts in Port St. Lucie practically wrote the book on all-inclusives, and Club Med Sandpiper Bay (from $350 per night for two adults and two children) benefits from the company’s relaxed but efficient culture. There are activities for kids of all ages: sailing school, paddle-boarding, circus and trapeze school, bocce ball, sand volleyball, basketball, table tennis, and several swimming pools. Teens and ‘tweens have their own “club,” Latitude 27, supervised but away from mom and dad’s eyes. And it’s one of the few resorts that offers (for an additional fee) infant and toddler care for babies 4 to 23 months old.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Palm Beach and The Treasure Coast Guide
Paradise Guest Ranch
WHERE: Buffalo, Wyoming
Nestled in its own valley in the Bighorn National Forest, Paradise Guest Ranch (from $6,000 per week for two adults and two children) has more than a million acres of forest at its disposal, meaning you’ll never have to ride the same trail twice. During the day, children ages 6 and older can ride their own horses on the trails; younger kids especially like helping bottle-feed the calves and taking pony rides. Before retiring to your cozy cabin at night, gather with other families at the ranch’s French Creek Saloon for sing-alongs and swing dancing. Plus, each Thursday, it’s “adults only” at the saloon while kids can go on an adult-supervised overnight campout.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Cody, Sheridan and Northern Wyoming Guide
WHERE: Hawley, Pennsylvania
Set amid more than 1,000 acres on Lake Teedyuskung, Woodloch Resort (from $311 per night for two adults and two children) is practically an amusement park and resort rolled into one. In summer there’s biking, waterskiing, hiking, and zip-lining. In winter, enjoy ice-skating, snow-tubing, and snowshoeing, as well as an indoor pool, Wii center, and gym. Throw in a miniature golf course, climbing wall, go-carts, and bumper boats—no one will have time to get bored.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Pennsylvania Guide
Dunton Hot Springs
WHERE: Dolores, Colorado
Dunton Hot Springs (from $10,465 for five nights for two adults and two children) was once an abandoned gold-mining town that today looks like a Ralph Lauren magazine ad come to life. Its present owners spent years restoring the buildings, the rough-hewn exteriors belying the luxury within. The inclusive family package includes a full-day guided hike or show-shoe expedition, two half-day activities for the kids, unlimited use of snowshoes, ice skates, mountain bikes, and cross-country skis, and access to hiking trails. Telluride is 30 miles away, and Mesa Verde National Park is an hour’s drive. There are a half-dozen natural hot springs, some more appropriate for kids than others, depending on the season.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Southwest Colorado Guide
WHERE: Maui, Hawaii
Travaasa Hana (from $925 per night for two adults and two children) is a both a romantic couples' getaway and family destination—the Garden Suite side of the property welcomes families with children of all ages throughout the year. Kids can take hula, ukulele, and lei-making lessons, splash in the family pool, or practice their bamboo-pole fishing skills at Hana Bay. The ocean-view resort isn’t set on the beach, but nearby Hamoa Beach has good swimming and facilities just for resort guests.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Maui Guide
Lodge on Little St. Simon Island
WHERE: Little St. Simon Island, Georgia
How about having an island almost entirely to yourself? The Lodge on Little St. Simon Island (from $1,050 per night for two adults and two children) allows only 32 overnight guests at a time—and it’s the only accommodation on the 10,000-acre island. Once you arrive by boat (the only way), you can grab a kayak, canoe, or motorized skiff to explore the island’s marshlands and maritime forests. Or relax by the saltwater pool. Activities for kids include a junior naturalist program. For anglers, the lodge supplies fishing tackle, and will cook up your catch for dinner.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's The Coastal Isles and The Okefenokee Guide
Rancho de los Caballeros
WHERE: Wickenburg, Arizona
Rancho de los Caballeros (from $610 per night for two adults and two children) was founded as a family destination in 1948, and people who visited as kids 50 years now bring their own families. This authentic dude ranch occupies 20,000 rolling acres of Sonoran Desert, perfect for exploring by horseback. There are morning and evening kids' programs that change daily, so kids can go swimming or play tennis, go on a scavenger hunt, or take a hayride to a campfire—giving parents some adult time to laze by the pool or enjoy dinner and a cocktail.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe Guide
Sugar Bay Resort and Spa
WHERE: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
St. Thomas’s only all-inclusive resort, Sugar Bay Resort and Spa (from $540 per night for two adults and two children), is set atop 31 lush acres, with expansive views of the turquoise Caribbean on the island’s Northeastern side. All guests can enjoy the three interconnecting pools (and hot tub), access to kayaks, Sunfish sailboats, snorkeling equipment, mini-golf, and a secluded beach. Kids ages 4 to 12 can attend the Kids Klub for a half-day each day, while adults can take advantage of one of only two casinos on the island.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's St. Thomas Guide
Mayan Dude Ranch
WHERE: Bandera, Texas
Your morning at Mayan Dude Ranch (from $480 per night for two adults and two children) begins with coffee and orange juice delivered to your cabin, before you saddle up for a trail ride to a hearty cowboy breakfast. The ranch—set on 350 acres in Texas’ scenic Hill Country—offers two trail rides every day, fishing and tubing down the river that winds through the property, tennis, basketball, and a large pool. There’s entertainment every night—learn the Texas Two-Step or Cotton-Eyed Joe, listen to a live country-Western band, take a hayride, or watch an outdoor movie.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's The Hill Country Guide
WHERE: Skytop, Pennsylvania
Spreading across 5,500 acres in the Poconos, Skytop Lodge (from $600/night for two adults and two children) has been welcoming families to its Bavarian castle-looking retreat since 1928. There’s a nearly endless number of activities available; in winter there’s ice-skating, tobogganing and sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and an indoor pool. Summertime means zip-lining, kayaking, beach swimming, bicycling, fishing, hikes, paddle boats, and geo-caching. The all-inclusive plan also includes one round of golf per person every day—a perk you’d usually need to pay extra for.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Pennsylvania Guide