Pictures: Carlos Bolanos; Eeyon.gr; Steven Graffham / Winter Park Photography; David Massey / DMP Productions; Eyeon.gr; Emma Tibbetts
All-inclusive doesn’t have to be all about the kids, writes Laura French.
Think all-inclusive, think family? While that might be a popular part of the market, all inclusive today can be as much about adult-only luxury as about feeding kids at the buffet. And for those after some quiet time where everything is budgeted in from the start, amenities are ample and service is exceptional, it can be a winning option.
It’s no longer just about good-value options either; from experiential resorts in the Caribbean to couples’ retreats in the Indian Ocean, there’s something to suit every will and whim. To give you a head-start we’ve asked operators from across the industry to come up with some of their favourites.
For time-strapped clients after a short-haul, all-inclusive getaway, the Continent isn’t short on options. For an adult-only, premium property in Cyprus, Prestige Holidays recommends the Constantinou Bros Asimina Suites in Paphos, which offers a deluxe all-inclusive package as well as half and full-board aimed exclusively at over-16s.
“This suite-only property oozes luxury,” says marketing manager Nicky Shafe. “While the thalassotherapy, aromatherapy and couples’ suites in the spa are great for pampering, there are also plenty of sporting activities for those who want to do more.”
They include floodlit tennis courts, a fully-equipped gym and two outdoor pools, but the real highlight is the food, with four restaurants spanning Mediterranean, themed buffets and high-end à la carte.
For clients on more of a budget, Olympic Holidays says the over-18s, three-star Avalon Hotel in Bochali, Zante, is a popular option. With 77 boutique-style rooms and suites nestled among scenic natural surroundings – all deep green olive groves and lush, towering trees – this property is a stone’s throw from Zante Town. Its optional all-inclusive package covers buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner with local drinks, and there’s a tennis court, golf course, outdoor pool and weekly folklore show to keep guests entertained when they’re not indulging at the table.
Over in Kos there’s Thomas Cook’s Sunprime Pearl, opening this summer just outside the town of Marmari. It promises a deluxe, peaceful option close to the action at a short stroll from a gold-sand beach. In line with the Sunprime brand – which offers all-inclusive, over-16s properties in Greece, Turkey, the Canary Islands and the Balearics – it offers decent spa facilities, contemporary interiors and creative cuisine, all designed around the concept of “total relaxation”, according to Tony Hopkins, product director for Thomas Cook UK.
Tui’s answer to that is its Sensimar brand. Recommend the four-star Sensimar Adriatic Beach on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast for an idyllic hideaway in a destination which Tui product director Mark Hall says is “high on our hotspot list for 2018”.
Set right on a pebble beach and at the foot of a pine-covered mountain, the resort boasts a mojito bar, two à la carte restaurants and large outdoor pool surrounded with Balinese day beds, all overlooking the glistening shores of the Adriatic.
If it’s more Spanish vibes that sway clients though, look to Iberostar. Classic Collection Holidays recommends the recently refurbished, all-suite Iberostar Grand Hotel Salome (over-16s only) in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, for a high-end, kid-free option sandwiched between two beaches.
“Butler service just adds to the feeling of luxury, relaxation and the ultimate short-haul getaway.”
Guests get free entry to the Sensations Spa next door, and all suites come with an ocean or pool view, whirlpool bath, pillow menu and butler, making it a good option for couples celebrating a special occasion.
“Costa Adeje is a perennial favourite among Classic customers – it’s a very smart area and it’s perfect for a relaxing break,” says Gary Boyer, head of purchasing. “Butler service at the Salome just adds to the feeling of luxury, relaxation and the ultimate short-haul getaway.”
No all-inclusive guide would be complete without the Caribbean, and among those leading the pack on the adult-only front is idyllic hideaway Galley Bay in St John’s, Antigua. It offers all-inclusive packages covering meals, afternoon tea, pre-dinner hors d’ouevres and premium-brand drinks as well as water sports such as sailing, snorkelling, windsurfing and paddleboarding, plus tennis and more.
“It has one of the highest repeat guest rates among our clients and is particularly popular with honeymooners, allowing guests to have total privacy,” says Paul Cleary, managing director of Caribtours. Recommend the thatched Gauguin suites for couples seeking a secluded getaway steps from the lagoon, or suggest beach dining under the stars for those wanting to up the romance levels another notch.
Then there’s trade favourite Sandals, which made its name offering romantic, adult-only escapes. Suggest the new Sandals Royal Barbados, which opened in December, for a luxury option comprising Club and Butler-level suites. There’s even a Rolls Royce transfer to and from the airport for guests in the very top category suites, while those who manage to drag themselves away from their rooms to explore the wider complex will find a rooftop infinity pool, bowling alley and variety of restaurants spanning Asian fusion to classic American.
“Suggest beach dining under the stars for those wanting to up the romance levels another notch.”
Elsewhere, the Secrets resorts have a grip on the adult-only market, and for good reason. The brand’s Cap Cana Resort & Spa in the Dominican Republic gets the critics’ nod of approval with excellent diving and a comprehensive luxury offering which includes 24-hour gourmet dining, unlimited premium drinks, movies on the beach, weekly parties and plenty more. “It has one of the best coastlines I’ve ever seen,” says Malcolm Davies, destination product manager for Funway Holidays.
If salsa and mojitos are more your clients’ thing, though, suggest the Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa in Cuba. “Located on Varadero Beach, it offers an ultra-all-inclusive package ideal for weddings, honeymooners and couples, or those looking for a spa and wellness holiday,” says Rebecca Turner, senior product manager for luxury (long-haul) at Travel 2, who recommends the Royal Service for exclusive facilities including a beach bar, gourmet restaurant, personalised butler service and beach concierge.
Outside the resort there’s plenty to see too, including Playa Coral, known for its snorkelling and diving, and Cuevo Saturno, a cluster of impressive caves home to stalactites and stalagmites.
Over in Mexico, there’s Unico 20° 87° Hotel Riviera Maya. Upping the all-inclusive game further and priding itself on immersive cultural experiences which go beyond the walls of the resort, it offers unlimited excursions – from dining in a starlit lagoon to visiting Chichen Itza – alongside unlimited golf, spa treatments and dining, all just for adults. Everything is focused on the locality, with rotating chefs serving up regional delicacies, and local artworks hanging on the walls.
Last but not least there’s the Indian Ocean, and with a plethora of adult-oriented resorts scattered across its islands, it can be tricky to know where to start.
For an especially romantic, boutique adult-only option, Kuoni recommends Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel, Mauritius, located on the north coast and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Tucked away in a peaceful cove close to Grand Baie, everything is designed to give couples time to themselves, with ‘love nests’ and cabanas dotted around, alongside four restaurants, a pop-up bar and more. Al fresco couples’ spa treatments, morning yoga on the beach and sunset cruises are all available too, and, for added romance in idyllic surroundings, there’s a new infinity pool set on the secluded peninsula overlooking the sea.
For clients on more of a budget, Premier Holidays recommends Veranda Paul & Virginie, set close to the quaint fishing village of Grand Gaube. The four-star, adult-only boutique-style resort reopened in October following a refurb and now offers a range of activities including windsurfing, glass bottomed boat trips and an aqua gym, alongside all food, drinks and a minibar under its all-inclusive deal. There’s plenty to explore in the local area too, including cooking demonstrations at a local house and the majestic La Demeure estate, a former sugar cane plantation turned colonial-style restaurant.
“For those after an extra-special experience there are Jacuzzi Water Villas on stilts over the sea.”
There’s plenty more adult-only over in the Maldives, of course. Suggest Komandoo Maldives Resort & Spa for over-18s especially keen on snorkelling and diving. It’s a four-star, intimate retreat surrounded by a vibrant coral reef with nearly 50 dive sites within an hour’s boat trip. Parasailing and pedalos are also available, and there are several restaurants on hand for those wanting to fuel up – among them the sand-floored, overwater Falhu, and Aqua, a fine dining spot with scenic views. Packages range from full-board to all inclusive gold, with the latter covering meals at Falhu, a weekly dinner at Aqua, a weekly spa treatment, introductory dive and more. For those after an extra-special experience there are Jacuzzi Water Villas set on stilts over the ocean – all without any kids around to interrupt the peace. Paradise found.
Ask the expert
Malcolm Davies, destination product manager, Funway Holidays
“It’s no longer just families wanting to make their budget stretch further who are interested in all-inclusives. We have noticed a significant rise in demand for adult only all inclusive resorts in particular, and our bookings for all inclusive resorts as a whole have risen by 10% year on year. Agents can benefit from selling adult-only all-inclusives by highlighting the extra activities available in resort, rather than just focusing on food and drink alone. It’s also really important to find out exactly what your client wants, so ask lots of questions.”
Seven nights at Sandals Royal Barbados costs from £1,920 per person including BA flights from Gatwick and resort transfers. The price is based on a South Seas Crystal Lagoon Club Level Barbados Suite, departing September 27, for bookings by February 8.
A week’s all inclusive in a Junior Suite at Constantinou Bros Asimina Suites, Cyprus, costs from £1,689 per person with Prestige Holidays, based on an April 18 departure with easyJet flights from Gatwick and private transfers.
Best of the rest
Temptation Cancun, Mexico
It’s in the name with this one. An adult-centric all-inclusive which opened in September, it’s all about the risqué here, with themed nights ranging from ‘Lingerie Lounge’ to ‘Heaven and Hell’ – seeing is believing.
Rei Del Mediterrani Palace, Majorca
Jet2holidays recommends this retreat for over 16s in Alcudia for stylish, artsy interiors alongside a spa, sauna, poolside bar and daily schedule of entertainment ranging from keep-fit activities to all-out shows.
Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius
Gold Medal highlights the unusual extras here – cooking classes, music lessons and open-air massages – alongside teas, picnics, fitness classes, water sports and unlimited golf at the nearby Ile Aux Cerfs club.
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