Laura French picks out some of the most impressive activities offered at all-inclusive resorts.
The phrase ‘all-inclusive’ might conjure up a few stereotypes, but there has been a dramatic change in what it really means over the past few years. Resorts are getting ever-more creative with their all-in packages, bringing culinary experiences, adventurous activities and unique excursions into the mix.
We’ve rounded up some of the most striking, to help you win big on this lucrative sector.
Picnic on an uninhibited island: Atmosphere Kanifushi
At this postcard-perfect, turquoise-ringed resort in the Maldives, guests can choose from six excursions, including cultural expeditions and a romantic sunset cruise. But the standout here is a picnic on a secluded, uninhabited island, where colourful fish, snow-white sands and crystal-clear waters form the backdrop to a remote, castaway-style experience only the Maldives can properly pull off.
“The standout here is a picnic on a secluded, uninhabited island, where colourful fish, snow-white sands and crystal-clear waters form the backdrop.”
Sunset fishing trips are also included, as is one à la carte, fine-dining experience at speciality restaurant The Sunset.
Book it: Caribtours offers a week’s all-inclusive from £2,745 per person, based on two sharing a Sunset Junior Suite. The price includes flights, seaplane transfers and airport lounge access.
Swim with Dolphins: Unico 20°N 87°W
Riviera Maya’s adult-only Unico 20°N 87°W has immersive experiences as its raison d’être with a string of included excursions (subject to a 25% service fee).
Among the standouts is a swim-with-dolphins experience that lets guests choose from one of six interactions, including hugging and swimming with these graceful creatures. Others include sailing under the stars with a three-course dinner, and a zip-lining adventure in the jungle.
Book it: Funway Holidays offers seven nights from £1,850 per person, flying on February 6.
Go quad biking round a nature reserve: Heritage Awali
Thrill-seekers need look no further than Heritage Awali Golf and Spa Resort in Mauritius, which offers quad bike, buggy and 4×4 tours round the idyllic Frederica Nature Reserve as part of its premium all-inclusive package. Think towering palms, winding rivers and glistening waterfalls accompanying you as you bump along the grounds of this 1,300-hectare reserve, set on the Domaine de Bel Ombre estate.
“Look no further than Heritage Awali Golf and Spa Resort in Mauritius, which offers quad bike, buggy and 4×4 tours around Frederica Nature Reserve.”
Other bonuses include a complimentary tour to the Seven Coloured Earth – a sea of multi-coloured sand dunes undulating in giant ripples – complete with a three-course lunch, and complimentary green fees at the on-site golf course.
Book it: A week in a Deluxe Garden View Room on a premium all-inclusive basis starts at £2,099 with Travel 2 for departures between May 6 and July 7, 2019.
Drive a Mini Cooper around Corfu: Ikos Dassia
When it comes to going the extra mile, the Ikos resorts know a thing or two, and the newest member of the family, Dassia, is no exception. The Corfu outpost offers a ‘Mini Drive Adventure’ that lets guests take a Mini Cooper for a spin around the island, taking in highlights such as Paleokastritsa beach – a pool of sparkling jade tucked into a craggy cove – with recommendations from the Ikos mobile app.
Guests also get a free pass granting access to three museums, so they can take in a bit of culture while cruising the open roads. The brand’s signature Dine Around programme means they can even pop into a taverna for a complimentary meal while on the move – Greek salad with a side of sea, anyone?
“The Corfu outpost offers a ‘Mini Drive Adventure’ that lets guests take a Mini Cooper for a spin around the island.”
Book it: Olympic Holidays offers a week’s all-inclusive from £1,536 per person based on two sharing and travelling on June 17, 2019, including flights from Gatwick.
Get unlimited access to Mexico’s Xcaret parks: Hotel Xcaret
Direct fun-loving clients to Cancun’s sprawling, 6,000-room Hotel Xcaret, which opened last December and offers complimentary access to eight nature parks and tours under a sweeping ‘all-fun inclusive’ concept.
Attractions include Xcaret, where guests can swim in underground rivers and check out an aquarium, butterfly pavilion, aviary and more; Xel-Ha, home to snorkelling, zip-lining and other adventures set among cenotes, lagoons and caves; and Xoximilco, where visitors board a gondola for a music-filled, floating fiesta featuring unlimited beer, tequila and a Mexican feast. Food and drink is included at every park, and tours to Tulum and Chichen Itza are also complimentary – now that’s what you call comprehensive.
“Cancun’s sprawling, 6,000-room Hotel Xcaret opened last December and offers complimentary access to eight nature parks and tours.”
Book it: Thomas Cook offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £2,300 per person, based on two adults sharing, including flights from Gatwick on November 26.
Learn the Trapeze: Club Med Opio en Provence
Wannabe circus acts unite – Club Med’s Creactive programme, designed in partnership with Cirque du Soleil, offers adults and kids over four the chance to learn acrobatics skills ranging from the double flying trapeze to the tightrope, trampolining to bungeeing and everything in between.
Available at the Opio en Provence and Punta Cana resorts, it brings together more than 25 activities, adding to an already wide programme of activities that spans archery, guided walks, a tennis school and more.
“Club Med’s Creactive programme, designed in partnership with Cirque du Soleil, offers adults and kids over four the chance to learn acrobatics skills.”
Book it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Club Med Opio en Provence starts at £787 per adult and £474 per child, based on a December 10 departure from Gatwick.
Cook with celebrity chefs: Diamonds Thudufushi
For clients into their cooking, suggest boutique Maldivian retreat Diamonds Thudufushi, whose unique ‘dining with the stars’ experience offers guests staying in a luxury Water Villa from January to April a free cooking lesson led by a member of the famous Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe. They’ll also enjoy a five-course gala dinner afterwards, hosted by a different chef each week.
Those not coming in peak season will still find plenty of other culinary treats – not least a Maldivian corner in the main restaurant, where guests can prepare traditional dishes with the chef, then enjoy them beneath the palms in the tropical garden.
“The ‘dining with the stars’ experience offers guests staying in a luxury Water Villa from January to April a free cooking lesson.”
Book it: Kuoni offers seven nights’ all-inclusive in a Beach Bungalow from £3,099 in January 2019. The price is based on two sharing and includes SriLankan Airlines flights from Heathrow, plus transfers in resort.
Best of the rest
Diving: Sandals and Beaches Resorts offer up to two free scuba trips a day for qualified divers, alongside a host of other above-and-beyond inclusions, not least Rolls-Royce transfers for guests in the top suites.
Horse riding: Grecotel’s White Palace in Crete offers complimentary horse riding for guests wanting to explore the island from on high.
“Sandals and Beaches Resorts offer up to two free scuba trips a day for qualified divers, alongside a host of other above-and-beyond inclusions.”
Photography workshops: Lux Resorts offer a ‘Photo Fanatics’ programme providing workshops to budding snappers, alongside in-room guides on how to capture the best shots.
Spa treatments: Elegant Hotels’ Waves Hotel & Spa in Barbados offers up to four spa treatments per seven-night stay (the number is based on the room type), while Saint Lucia’s BodyHoliday offers a daily 50-minute treatment at its Elemis spa.