Our editors and writers scoured the globe to find the best all-inclusive resorts based on standout offerings, from top-notch dining options and cool bars to over-the-top suites and white-glove butler service. We also asked our readers to vote for their favorites in each category. We’re proud to present the winners of the 2019 Islands All-Inclusive Awards.
When you’re choosing an all-inclusive resort, the food might just be the most important factor. These all-inclusives go beyond the typical buffet to offer molecular gastronomy, Michelin-starred chefs, and AAA Four-Diamond distinction. From chef-curated tasting menus to ceviche bars to haute cuisine, these hotels are bringing their foodie A-game.
Winner, Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice: Royal Hideaway Playacar, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Every resort winning the Four Diamond Award from AAA must deliver culinary excellence. The Royal Hideaway Playacar does one better, infusing the menu at onsite restaurant Ventanas with novelty.
This is a Mediterranean meal you won’t find anywhere else. Most noticeable on the menu are the pickled black mussels as a starter, and the acorn-fed pork with honey served on tomato bread. You’ll also find a Mexican staple, aquachile— shrimp in lime juice with chili peppers — only this version incorporates tangy rhubarb and salty oysters. We love the chef’s table experience, dishing up nine courses, each more surprising than the next; expect a surcharge, but one well worth it.
In addition to Ventanas, this adults-only Barceló property offers five other restaurants, including Azia for Thai, Palazzo for Italian and Spices for Mexican-Caribbean fare. An added treat: Royal Hideaway Playacar serves high tea every day from 4 to 6 p.m., bringing out a wealth of nibbles and treats — think blackberry macaroons and tiny smoked salmon sandwiches — to satiate between dining experiences. — Brooke Morton
Winner, Editors’ Choice: Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico
Molecular gastronomy at an all-inclusive resort? It’s exactly why foodies book at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. (Cue the foam and dry ice.) At Cocina de Autor, the 8- to 10-course menu features Mexican-meets-Caribbean dishes with an added culinary flair. (Think poblano chillis with foie gras, and prawns with honeydew mole.)
Seven additional eateries include haute-French cuisine at Piaf, Asian fusion at Sen Lin and AAA-Four-Diamond winner Frida, and ode Mexico’s most famous female artist, Frida Kahlo. There are even ceviche carts found around the four pools on property.
This resort’s modern, clean lines — whether you opt to stay in the Grand Class or Ambassador categories — are striking against pink bougainvillea draped over the terrace of each suite. Rooms are spacious and the deep soaking tubs are heavenly.
Kids and adults are easily satisfied with breakfast-buffet selections that go well beyond pancakes and eggs. Similarly, the 90,000-square-foot SE Spa embraces food, with honey, cocoa and coffee woven into select treatments. — Kristine Hansen
Winner, Editors’ Choice: Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Riviera Maya, Mexico
A week won’t feel like enough time to take in all the flavor of Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita‘s four restaurants, including the AAA-Four-Diamond award-winning La Canoa. The seasonally changing menu features local ingredients sourced from the onsite organic garden to create dishes such as pan-seared prawns in a corn truffle sauce.
Also unique is the sushi, sashimi and ceviche bar free of charge to all guests, found at Ka’ax restaurant. Each of the resort’s restaurants caters to diners wishing to eat organic, vegetarian, and gluten-free, with menu items well marked for every dietary need, such as lobster carpaccio in a chilli vinaigrette and zucchini blossom crepe in poblano pepper sauce for gluten-free diners. Guests looking for that something special can opt for an in-room dining experience that far exceeds mere room service — at no added charge.
An added fee buys entry to try the chef’s table experience, where the multi-course menu caters to the group’s whims and cravings. Also impressive is the resort’s wine vault with 5,000 international bottles on hand, offering something for every palette. — BM