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The kids want to go ziplining--for the third time in two days. But you don't need to think twice. When you're staying at an all-inclusive resort, nearly everything is included, so the pressure is off to constantly tally the cost of your vacation.
The all-inclusive concept has gotten a recent makeover--better food, spruced-up décor, more varied activities--and many are perfect for families. Activities are on-site, so there's no need to wake up early and usher the troops out the door only to wait in traffic or long lines. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa offers four themed villages, 19 restaurants, a 45,000-square-foot water park, a Scratch DJ Academy, a surfing simulator, an Xbox Play Lounge, and Sesame Street® characters.
The best all-inclusive family resorts also have programs that give grown-ups a little space. Vermont's Tyler Place Family Resort runs nine camps tailored to specific ages, each with its own facilities; parents meet up with their brood for lunch and activities, but can enjoy dinner in the adults-only restaurant.
These are the kinds of distinguishing factors to look for before booking. "The devil is in the details, so do your homework with special attention to size, quality, and the staff-to-guest ratio," says Zachary Rabinor, CEO of Journey Mexico.
At Kenya's Lewa Safari Camp, families can customize the experience, say, with earlier mealtimes. Before each morning's game drive, hot chocolate is delivered to the door. Now that should keep the whole family happy.
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsSt. Lucia’s largest water park—with slides, waterfalls, and a lazy river—is right here at the 85-acre oceanfront resort, which hosts a kids’ club, family karaoke, and movie nights. There are even separate wings for adults and families. Ask to stay in one of the Splash wing’s revamped Premium Ocean View rooms. Done in white, lime green, and blues, they make a cheerful crash pad for tuckered-out kids after a day spent ziplining, playing in the tree house, or climbing the mini rock wall. Rate: From $413 per room per night, including meals and activities. Tours, paintball, premium drinks, and spa treatments are not included. Infants under three stay free; kids three to 12 years old are $23 per night; and teens 13 to 17 are $31 per night.Photo: Courtesy of Coconut Bay Resort
The Ranch at Emerald Valley, CO
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsThe Ranch, which opens in August 2013 less than 10 miles from downtown Colorado Springs, spreads over 16 acres surrounded by the Pike National Forest. The onetime retreat of gold and copper magnate Spencer Penrose houses guests in 10 one-, two-, and three-bedroom cabins with wood-burning fireplaces. Families can go horseback riding, fish in the trout-stocked pond, roast s’mores, and dig into Rocky Mountain rainbow trout and fresh pie at twice-weekly gourmet cookouts. To access sister resort The Broadmoor’s amenities (golf, tennis, and a spa with kid treatments), call the concierge to be escorted down the mountain. broadmoor.com/ranchRate: From $435 per adult per night, including all activities and meals. Alcohol, taxes, and gratuities aren’t included. Children six and under stay for free.Photo: Courtesy of The Ranch at Emerald Valley
Meliã Caribe Tropical, Dominican Republic
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsYou’re bound to spot Fred Flintstone hanging out at this vast 1,138-room oceanfront resort in Punta Cana. The three Flintstones-themed kids’ clubs offer not only costumed characters but also supervised crafts, games, a trampoline, and sports like rock climbing and ziplining. While the kids play, adults can take a dip in one of 10 pools, shop at the Palma Real Village (which has three movie theaters), take individual or group lessons at the Golf Academy, or unwind with an open-air couple’s massage at the Yhi Spa. melia.comRate: From $175 per adult and $57.40 per child (two to 12) per night. Includes all meals; Wi-Fi in the lobby; access to the pools, tennis courts, spas, game room, gym, and health club; activities and sports; and evening entertainment. Greens fees at the Cocotal Golf & Country Club and motorized watersports are extra.Photo: Courtesy of Melia Caribe Tropical Resort
Rancho de los Caballeros, AZ
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsThe mission of the Sonoran Desert ranch is simple: keep the tradition of the Spanish caballeros (“gentlemen on horseback”) going. If you’re looking to get your hands dirty, you can help out with cattle chores—after all, this is a working dude ranch. Otherwise, head to the 100-horse corral and ride one of the many trails with professional wranglers, set out on a scavenger hunt, or tee-off at the on-site championship golf course. Join the Cowboy Cookout dinners served from a chuck wagon under the star-filled sky, then retreat back to one of the 79 casitas, with creature comforts such as a fireplace, a patio, or a jetted tub. ranchodeloscaballeros.comRate: From $420 per night based on double occupancy. Kids up to five stay free; $95 a night for kids six to 12, including access to the Kids Club and three meals daily.Photo: Courtesy of Rancho de los Caballeros
Skytop Lodge, PA
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsFans of the cult classic Dirty Dancingwill recognize the wholesome brand of family fun cultivated at this stone-and-wood lodge on 5,500 acres in the Poconos. You can zipline through the Tree Top Adventure Course (more than 3,000 feet long, but a comfortable 10–15 feet above the ground); play laser tag or paintball; set off on a GPS-guided nature hike; or, in the winter, go dogsledding with the resort’s own team of huskies. Grown-ups may opt to do the more rigorous Leavitt Falls hike, which descends into a rhododendron-dotted ravine, home to foxes. Rate: From $495 per night based on double occupancy, for the Full American Plan, which includes three daily meals and select activities (hiking trails, indoor and outdoor pools, and mini-golf). Children under 12 are free; those 12 and over or additional adults are $75 per person. Fees apply for golf and Adventure Center activities.Photo: Skytop Lodge
Tyler Place Family Resort, VT
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsFour generations of Tylers have lived and worked at this resort on Lake Champlain since it opened in 1933—the current owners’ grandparents even met here as kids in 1874. The property hosts up to 70 families weekly, but what sets it apart is that there are nine age-specific camps designed for infants and kids up to 15 years old, each with its own equipment and facilities so that teens and little ones don’t have to mingle. Activities center around the lake: sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, water tubing, and bass fishing cruises led by “Nature Dave.” Yoga, tennis (six courts), and bonfires are also on offer. Rate: From $124 to $422 per adult per night, including daily housekeeping, all meals, children’s camps, and activities. Spa treatments, alcohol, and state tax aren’t included; there’s a 10 percent service charge, but no tipping. Infants and toddlers $37–$109, depending on the season; kids 2 1/2 through 15 $94–$143.Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Place Family Resort
Club Med Pragelato Vialattea, Italy
See More of the Best All Inclusive Family ResortsMore than 5,200 feet up in the Piedmont region of the Italian Alps, Club Med opened the Pragelato Vialattea in December 2012. There’s ski-in/ski-out access to 240 miles of slopes, 30 of which are suited for beginners. Many of the 234 rooms, with pine floors, plaid throw pillows, and dove-gray walls, were designed specifically for families, while clubs cater to kids and teens from two to 17 with a “snow garden,” nature programs, and skiing alternatives like snowshoeing and Nordic walking. In summer, guests keep busy with hiking, mountain biking, oror excursions to the weekly market at Pinerolo and guided tours of Turin. clubmed.usRate: From $3,666 for seven nights for two adults and two children, including all meals and drinks, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, Nordic walking, snowshoeing, hiking, and access to the Turkish bath and sauna room. Children under six stay free. Photo: Courtesy of Club Med