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.
Sure, it’s vacation and everything is supposed to be smooth sailing, but that’s not always the case. Enter butler service. Not only do resort butlers make sure that your room, laundry and room service needs are fulfilled on time, but they also cater to your every ask, whether it’s having champagne or beer brought beachside or arranging a special romantic turndown service.
Winner, Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice: Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas
Sandals, with their guild of professional English butlers, sets the gold standard for pampering. This service, included in all top-tier room categories at Sandals Emerald Bay, comes at a premium, but it 100 percent removes any of the hassles and headaches that can arise on vacation.
Your butler will welcome you with champagne and a nibble, proceeding to give a tour of the property, or will complete check-in at your room, or the bar if you prefer. Upon arrival, guests receive a cell phone for one-touch access to contact their butler from anywhere on property.
Standard requests include cocktails, lunches and amenities delivered while you sunbathe on the beach. Your butler is happy to take on any unusual requests also, from specialized island excursions to accommodating any desire that arises during your stay. Your butler will also liaise with room service to expedite orders, laundry to ensure on-time delivery and housekeeping to add little touches, such as rose petals on the bed, to make your stay perfectly seamless.
Winner, Editors’ Choice: Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Riviera Maya, Mexico
For guests of Iberostar Grand Paraiso‘s ocean front and villa rooms, concierge service begins before arrival. The concierge team reaches out to learn your favorites, so you’ll arrive to champagne, then your butler escorts you to your room with a mini-bar already stocked with your must-have beverages. Check-in happens in your room, where the butler unpacks for you as you choose from the pillow menu.
The concierge team takes the hassle out of arranging all restaurant reservations, tennis lessons, spa visits, local excursions and anything else you wish for your Riviera Maya stay. Come day’s end, should you ring them up and ask, your butler can draw a bubble bath with rose petals, and will add aromatherapy to your turndown service.
Throughout your stay, the butler will check in, asking if there’s anything that will make your stay more enjoyable. When your stay concludes, the butler will pack for you and make checkout a breeze, arranging transport to the airport, even if takeoff falls in the middle of the night.
Winner, Editors’ Choice: Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, St. Maarten
When you book a butler suite at adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, you’ll receive a cell phone at check-in for direct access to your personal butler. He will have already stocked the room with your favorite beverages and top-shelf spirits (full bottles, at that) and arranged airport transfers to the property. Lounge poolside and he’ll arrive with your drink of choice, and arrange a picnic lunch by the pool or on Maho Beach.
Several butler-category suites are available, but choose a Sunset Swim Out Butler Suite for direct pool access and a prime view of the sunset. You can also watch the planes landing at nearby Princess Juliana Airport directly from your balcony.
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort is a resort-within-a-resort, so guests have access to the amenities at sister property Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa — but not the other way around.* We recommend Palms Grill for dinner, where you cook your own meat, fish and vegetables on a personal volcanic stone plate.
When you’re ready to experience the St. Maarten nightlife, it’s just a short walk to Maho Village, where a sports bar, a nightclub and a casino await. Don’t worry about hangovers: your butler will help you pack and arrange transportation to the airport. — Rebecca Kinnear
* Editor’s note: Sonesta Ocean Point Resort was severly damaged during the 2017 hurricane season. The resort reopened December 2018 but is still undergoing renovations. Sister property Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is expected to reopen by the end of February 2019. We were able to experience the property and butler service during a stay in June 2017.