Chloe Berman tried out three resorts in the Caribbean to see how their all-inclusive packages measured up.
Few destinations have embraced the all-inclusive concept with the fervour of the Caribbean, with the result that there is a bewildering array of resorts to choose from. Here we review three very different options, giving you the detailed information you need to make the right choice for your client.
Buccament Bay, St Vincent
The hotel: St Vincent’s first five-star resort opened in April last year. The vast, sprawling property has a striking setting nestled between the Caribbean sea – edged with dazzlingly white sand imported from Guyana – and lush mountain peaks.
Rooms: My two-bedroom villa had all the luxury trappings you’d expect: spacious bedrooms, its own plunge pool, free wireless internet, a stylish coffee machine and a huge rain shower. I loved the little touches such as scattered rose petals and freshly-baked cookies at turn-down. Guests can choose from a collection of 96 one, two and four-bed villas. If you can, opt for one overlooking the beach or the river. There will be 170 villas available by the end of October and 369 when the resort is complete.
Facilities: Five restaurants were up and running and two more are due to open this year. The Safran, an Indian outlet, and Bay Beach Club both offer top-quality food and service, but don’t miss the barbeque night at Bamboo. To counteract the overindulgence, there’s a well-equipped gym with fitness classes and a heavenly spa with products by eSpa. For total relaxation, head to the waterfront village, with its two gently-curved swimming pools, plush sunloungers, cafe bar and gorgeous views over the sky-blue water.
All-inclusive package: The activity programme is a big selling point, centred around the Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, where ex-pros including Ronnie Whelan, Jan Molby and Gareth Southgate will be joining the resident team of coaches during 2012. There is also a Pat Cash Tennis Academy (he visits regularly) and an excellent Performing Arts Academy, where even the most tone-deaf holidaymakers can be converted into West End wannabees. The resort offers excursions, such as daily sunset cruises, and trips to Wallilabou Bay, which was used as a backdrop in Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl. The highlight for me was a day trip to the spectacular Tobago Cays for snorkelling with turtles.
Who to sell it to: Families will love the unique inclusions and Little Harlequins Kids’ Club, but it’s equally suited to couples looking for a relaxing break and a base for exploring the Grenadines.
Book it: Caribtours has seven nights for £6,795 for two adults and two children including flights, transfers and airport lounge access.
The BodyHoliday LeSport, Saint Lucia
The hotel: It’s not often you see Lycra-clad ladies swinging kettlebells next to holidaymakers lounging on sunbeds, but this slightly surreal scene sums up the ‘do as much or as little as you like’ ethos of The BodyHoliday. A $20 million refurbishment carried out last summer has given the public areas a modern and stylish new look. The reception area, main restaurant Cariblue and Clubhouse bar and lounge have had a facelift, and a new infinity pool with stylish cabanas adds a Miami-style touch.
Rooms: My junior suite was simply decorated with a mahogany four-poster bed and marble bathroom with Ren toiletries. The highlight for me was its enchanting view of the gentle sea, lush mountains and locals fishing at dusk. Guests are encouraged to spend their time taking part in activities, so don’t expect televisions or wireless internet.
Facilities: The resort’s marketing materials declare that a week here will "give you back your mind" and the team takes that promise seriously. An impressive schedule of activities is posted on blackboards each day, from spinning and morning walks to tai chi and martial arts. But relaxation is taken equally seriously, with a daily spa treatment included in the price. The spa is perched on a hill reachable by a challenging set of steps, but you’ll be rewarded with a peach-coloured paradise of trickling fountains, hidden alcoves and heady scents. The refurb added four treatment rooms.
All-inclusive package: A daily 50-minute spa treatment, which can be booked online before arrival, and introductory scuba lesson are also part of the package.
Who to sell it to: This is one of the best resorts in the Caribbean for single travelers, with 29 garden rooms for singles and communal tables for dinner. The hotel is also popular with groups, couples and mothers with grown-up daughters. The resort is adult-only for most of the year.
Book it: Western & Oriental Travel is offering a 20% discount on seven-night stays in March, starting from £2,365 per person including flights and transfers.
Almond Beach Village, Barbados
The hotel: Fresh from a multimillion-pound refurbishment, this vast resort is perfect for families looking for a more affordable option on Barbados’s glitzy Platinum Coast. Set on 33 acres, the sprawling resort – the largest of Almond’s three resorts on the island – has 11 swimming pools and five restaurants. The large number of repeat guests, particularly from the British market, creates a sociable and lively atmosphere.
Rooms: Half of the resort’s 400 rooms have been refurbished with contemporary furnishings and flatscreen televisions. Make sure your clients are given one of the newly refurbished rooms, as the rest are a little dated. The rooms, housed in a series of blocks across the resort, span 11 categories, from standard to family suites suitable for two adults and three children.
Facilities: The five restaurants offering Italian, Bajan, seafood and British-style high tea ensure there’s no monotony. Kayaking, windsurfing and snorkelling are all on hand, while classes include yoga, aqua aerobics, golf and tennis clinics, cooking and rum mixing. Guests can also board a free shuttle bus to make use of the restaurants and amenities at the other two Almond resorts.
All-inclusive package: As well as the usual sports and activities, guests can have a go at West Indian dance classes and Bajan cooking for no extra charge.
Who to sell it to: Families will be in their element here, with day care and activities for children of all ages including a nursery, kids’ club and teen centre. There’s even a photo studio for family portraits.
Book it: Seven nights with Virgin Holidays starts from £1,109 per person based on a family of four, including flights.
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