All-inclusives: Caribbean or Indian Ocean?

The Caribbean and the Indian Ocean are prime spots for all-inclusive resorts.

It was the Caribbean that pioneered all-inclusives, and it now boasts a strong market in that sector. The Indian Ocean has always been perceived as ultra-luxurious and exclusive – with a price tag to match.

But both destinations are changing. The Caribbean is now so varied it can offer a product to suit just about every age group and bank balance, while the Indian Ocean has been showing significant growth in the three-star sector, with charter flights in the Maldives especially opening up the area to more than just the honeymoon brigade.

So which to offer your clients? We take a look at these two paradise spots in the sun to help you choose.

Indian Ocean

Attractions/culture: For cultural riches, Sri Lanka’s a good bet, with some fascinating day trip options. Kandy is the location for the site of the Dalada Maligawa, where the sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined.

Sri Lanka’s ancient capital Anuradhapura has some well-preserved ruins of the ancient Lankan civilisation, while the Dambulla Rock Temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress rising up from the scrub jungle make fabulous day trips. Wildlife fans will adore Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, while those in search of the leopard should head to Yala National Park.

Botanical gardens are stunning, colourful affairs in this region. The Victoria Botanical Gardens in the Seychelles offers shady paths and picnic spots among the 500 species of exotic plants plus a pen of giant tortoises and a colony of fruit bats.

In Mauritius, among the undulating cane fields, mini mountains and forests there is plenty to see and do. The capital Port Louis offers a great market offering spices and herbs to cure everything from lumbago to morning sickness. Grand Baie in the north offers all manner of water sports and deep sea fishing opportunities and Curepipe has great views of the island from the extinct volcanic crater at Trou aux Cerfs.

Food and drink: Expect spicy meat, fish and vegetables served with rice and bread variations. Lassi – a yoghurty drink which cools the palate – is ubiquitous. In Mauritius the diversity of the population is reflected in the food served in hotels. Guests will see Creole rougailles, Chinese sweet-and-sour dishes, French haute cuisine, Indian curries and even European classics.

Sample product:Cosmos Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the four-star Kuredu Island Resort in the Lhaviyari Atoll in the Maldives from £939 per person, departing Gatwick in June. Price includes return flights and seaplane transfers.

Sell to: Decadent sunseekers will love many water sports available in the Indian Ocean but there’s just as much to tempt the fly-and-flop brigade who want their Margaritas brought to their sunlounger. Cultural attractions abound, making it good for those who like to learn more about their holiday destination.

Fact file

  • Flight times: Around nine hours, give or take an hour either way depending on the island you are heading for.
  • Time difference: GMT -4hrs
  • Learn more: Go on the CTO’s new revised Caribbean Training Programme.


Attractions/culture: The history of the Caribbean features migration, slavery, colonialism, imperialism, war and piracy. All these twists and turns in the lives of Caribbean people through the ages are echoed in the museums and monuments across the region, be they impressive national sites or small shacks down long-forgotten streets.


Indiana Jones wannabes will love the archeological digs that have uncovered the history of the Tainos, Caribs, Arawaks and Mayans, while military buffs will get a buzz from English Harbour at Antigua as well as the fortress of Brimstone Hill in St Kitts.

For those chilling in Martinique, don’t forget to take a peek at the Musee de la Pagerie, devoted to Napolean’s Empress Josephine’s life.

Food and drink: Caribbean favourites such as jerk chicken, curried goat and rice and peas dominate local menus, but each island has its own version, as well as a national dish.

While in the past the all-inclusives shied away from traditional dishes in favour of US and European food, these days they are waking up to the importance of a diverse menu. The result is in-house celebrity chefs, luxurious twists on old favourites and authentic menus that reflect local cuisine.

Sample product:Virgin Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Sheraton At Our Lucaya resort on Grand Bahama for £1,359 per person twin-share between January 1 and February 29. The price includes return flights with Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow via Miami, internals to Nassau and transfers. Prices may be subject to a fuel surcharge and an increase in Air Passenger Duty.

Sell to: The more mature all-inclusive market in the Caribbean has a product to suit all, whether your client has opted for this type of holiday to watch the pennies or simply because they want a luxurious holiday without having to think about money.

You can point lively young couples and single-sex groups to party areas such as St Lawrence Gap in Barbados or Rodney Bay and Gros Islet in St Lucia. Families looking for fun will enjoy Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

For a gentler experience, Grenada has excellent family beaches and child-friendly attractions such as Laura’s Herb and Spice Garden and Concord Falls in Concord Valley.

Fact file

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