Only the Best All-Inclusives: For the Thrifty

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Although it is billed as a casual, value-priced resort, Grand Pineapple Beach Resort hardly feels like a compromise. The ornate entry suggests a plush, private estate, and the expansive 25-acre property – with lime, raspberry and lemon-colored buildings accented with gingerbread fretwork and surrounded by tropical flora – evokes sophisticated Old Caribbean charm.

After check-in in the grand lobby of the plantation-style main building, I was escorted to my room, a comfortable retreat with sweeping views of Long Bay, the 1,600-foot stretch of powdery sand that borders the 180-room resort. Elegantly appointed, it features lamps, furniture and fabrics embellished with a pineapple motif, a traditional Caribbean symbol of welcome that resonates throughout the hotel. I soon settled into a routine. Each morning, as dawn light danced on the aquamarine water, I would make my way over wooden bridges, past waterfalls and along stands of palms to breakfast, a prelude to idyllic days spent swimming, strolling the beach and reading in a water's-edge chaise. Invariably, reading would lead to napping, interrupted only to join other guests for a mid-afternoon beer at the bar.

While Grand Pineapple's atmosphere is conducive to rest and relaxation, there are plenty of activities with which to pass the time. Guests – a diverse contingent of American and British couples, singles and families – played volleyball and beach tennis, snorkeled and windsurfed. In the afternoons I'd take a Hobie Cat out for a spin across the bay and then snorkel the reefs, mesmerized by schools of colorful tropical fish.

Dining options were pleasingly diverse. At ocean-view Topaz, breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets were bounteous, manned by delightful staff who quickly learned your name and preferred drink. Reservations were required for dinner at Pineapple Grill, a former great house that serves an à la carte Caribbean menu in an atmosphere comparable to any fine restaurant. My favorite was The Outhouse, a funky hillside restaurant with stunning ocean views and an unfortunate name. Open for lunch, afternoon beers and board games, the ramshackle wooden structure appeared to be held together by the grace of God - and well-worn wooded slats, each carved or painted with names and messages from past visitors. Proprietor Miss Mary makes mean barbecue ribs and chicken, and Caribbean brews lubricate the conversation. Grand Pineapple's old-school charm and island ambiance is the stuff of Caribbean dreams, and by the end of my stay it was hard to imagine a more perfect island getaway – at any price.

From $254 in low season ($275 high).*

877-846-3290; grandpineapple.com

*Rates current as of the time of publishing. Please call to confirm prior to booking your trip.