The new breed of all-inclusive resorts
Bad buffets have been banished and mandatory ‘fun activities’ are a thing of the past at the new breed of all-inclusive resorts. Staying at a property where everything is included can make for a great holiday but they’re not one size fits all. Whether you’re into meditation or mojitos, there’s a room with your name on it at one of the following spots.
Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand
Huka Lodge feels more like a (very wealthy) friend’s place than a hotel, with cosy furnishings and thoughtful touches that invite you to relax. This once simple fishing lodge is now anything but with 18 guest rooms featuring monogrammed linen and elegant French doors overlooking the mighty Waikato River. Activities range from relaxing in front of the fireplace to trout fishing from the Lodge’s rolling green lawn (rods and hearty encouragement provided free of charge).
Best for: Outdoorsy types who appreciate a little luxury.
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Queensland, Australia
For the stressed-out and sleep-deprived this lifestyle retreat nestled in the Gold Coast hinterland equates to pure heaven. Programs range from action packed pamper weekends to the seven-night Gwinganna Detox which promises (and delivers) a glowing transformation for most guests. The 5.30am wake-up for Qi Gong isn’t always easy but early starts are rewarded with an ethereal sunrise over the valley and running commentary provided by cheeky kookaburras.
Best for: Hyped-up corporate types in need of some down time.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Don’t be surprised when you see a big name star like Kate Winslet relaxing by the pool. With a troop of private butlers and a staff/guest ratio of 3 to 1, it’s no surprise Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a favourite celebrity hangout. Even breakfast is fine dining with a choice of four speciality restaurants featuring elaborate menus. All beverages are included – top shelf only, of course.
Best for: Celebrity spotting.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Snorkelling off the jetty is like jumping into a fish tank at Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort where littlies get their very own nanny at no extra charge. Each thatched bure villa practically screams ‘tropical island holiday’ and comes with a mini-bar stocked with refreshing Fiji water. Food is either grown on-site or sourced from local vendors and the management has partnered with the Mataqali, the traditional Fijian landowners, to declare the surrounding waters a marine reserve.
Best for: Nature loving families.
Club Med Bintan Island, Indonesia
This upmarket Club Med resort located 40 minutes from Singapore by ferry is a firm favourite with couples and families alike who come to escape the bustling mainland and indulge in a little R&R. Golfers can improve their handicap at the ‘Best Golf Course in Asia’ and the sparkling beachfront looks like something off a tourist brochure. Resident monkeys provide more than enough entertainment but there’s also an impressive array of group activities – even if you prefer to sit things out with a refreshing pina colada these make for a great spectator sport.
Best for: An all-inclusive Singapore stopover with a difference.
Think of Silversea as a luxurious floating hotel where the iconic destinations come to you. French champagne served by white-gloved butlers is the tipple of choice and everything – including tips – is included in the fare. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s nice to dream.
Best for: Wealthy travellers who hate unpacking.
Arajilla Retreat, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia
Loosely translated Arajilla means ‘mystical place to rest’ in the Aboriginal language. This small luxury retreat has an other-worldly almost spiritual ambience with the surrounding silence broken only by bird song and softly rustling palms. Sunlight glimmers on the ocean, secluded beaches beckon and everything is impossibly green. Children over 6 welcome.
Best for: Couples keen to escape the chaotic pitter-patter of little feet.
Disclosure: The writer has stayed at Club Med, Huka Lodge, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort and Gwinganna as guests of the operators. She is still recovering from the lack of coffee at Gwinganna.