We recently asked families if they liked all inclusive holidays. The answer was yes. Not least because many all inclusive resorts are now stunning, in great destinations and come with so much included. And that’s before we even mention the carefree, don’t-open-your wallet-all-holiday-long feeling which works so well when you’re travelling with kids. In response to your enthusiastic ‘yes’, we’ve personally tested several all inclusive resorts from Greece to the Caribbean and picked the best of the best for families. Are you an all inclusive expert or ready to give it a go? Read on.
Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas: all inclusive holidays in Crete
Tucked away in a secluded cove with crystal-clear waters and a pristine private beach, Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas is quite the find.
Arriving at this super luxe resort through the hotel’s olive grove, we were full of first-day excitement. And, with two teenagers in tow we wasted no time before exploring. Daois Cove turned out to be sculpted out of the hillside rock with panoramic views out to the deep blue Aegean Sea. The buildings perfectly complimented the natural surroundings of sea and rock. Although it took some time to navigate round the different levels of the resort. However, if you get lost for long enough, you simply end up back at one of the hotel’s funiculars. These whizz you down to the sandy, gently sloping, child-friendly beach. Or alternatively they whisk you up to the infinity pool: our favourite holiday hang out and where my kids got to try scuba for the first time.
Dais Cove really is a paradise for families. Every staff member makes children feel extraordinarily welcome. They’re also old hands at this family travel lark: smilingly providing a steady stream of non-alcoholic cocktails and snacks to our sun loungers.
Rooms with private pools are heaven for kids
Most of the rooms have private pools and we plumped for adjoining rooms. My teenage daughter felt like she’d won the lottery as she had her own pool. However, our pool next door also created a perfect space for endless games of water volleyball with her brother.
Daios Cove has plenty of choice on the dining front too. We often gravitated towards the relaxed Beach House restaurant. But Taverna was irresistible too, serving up Cretan delicacies like sole and almond butter or lamb pie with feta. The menu changes from restaurant to restaurant, but child-friendly staples are available everywhere. My two loved trying out everything on offer and the youngest developed a big love of dolmas.
Of course, adults should remember it’s their holiday too. So make the most of the excellent kids clubs and teen activities, and take yourself to the Kepos by Goco wellness centre. This is now one of the leading spas in Greece and offers all sorts of new fangled treatments. I tried Cryotherapy in a -85° cubicle where it actually snowed – listening to Vanilla Ice on headphones of course! After the two minute treatment was over, I emerged feeling energised and, yes, a bit buzzed. I also tried the spa’s Pnoe system. Pnoe is Greek for breath and I had my resting breath measured for health stats and advice. This intriguing data was then given to one of the trainers and transformed into the best workout for my body.
Plenty to see and do on the gorgeous north east coast of Crete
We did find it difficult to drag ourselves away from this beautiful resort. However, a morning trip to Spinalonga was a must do. This nearby island, made famous by Victoria Hislop and her bestseller ‘The Island’, was once home to a leper colony. The diseased were banished here between 1903 and 1957 when a cure was developed and the remaining residents returned to the mainland. The kids found the island fascinating. And actually walking round the streets and seeing how they people lived in the not-so-distant past excited them much more than Crete’s ancient ruins.
The sign of a good holiday is when real life feels a world away, and it certainly felt like that in our Daios Cove bubble.
Amada Colossos: the luxury of ultra all-inclusive in Rhodes
Greece is king of all inclusive holidays, with amazing choice and breadth, and it was first to pioneer the idea of ‘ultra’ or ‘luxe’ all-inclusive. This new breed of resorts takes the all-inclusive concept upmarket and Amada Colossos is luxe for sure.
It starts with a prime spot on the best coastline in Rhodes: sandy and serene Kallithea. Then follows up with stylish interiors incorporating raffia, driftwood and whitewash to create a laid-back, beach-house feel.
We also liked the way it welcomed both honeymooners and half-termers, with its Adults-Only zones. So families needn’t worry about disturbing couples, nor that the hotel is wall-to-wall children. Plus, parents can escape to the adult pool when they have the chance, as there’s not just one, but three kids’ clubs, caring for new born babies right through to teens. And we guarantee, all ages will love the waterpark complete with five flumes, an aqua tower, splash zones and slides, not to mention the lazy river.
Cool stuff for families day and night
Innovative as ever, Amada Colossos is one of the first hotels to work with Yoto. These in-room screen-free players read children’s books and play music and podcasts. Plus, they also double as a night light, clock and Bluetooth speaker. Then there’s the Small Fingerprints programme. Here kids aged 4-15 can learn how to cook healthy food, including Greek dishes. The programme even throws mini discos, as well as variety and comedy shows, karaoke and quiz nights. Honestly, at Amada Colossos it’s not a case of night time being the point when babysitters step in, it’s simply time for families to have even more fun together.
The resort takes food seriously too with no fewer than 14 restaurants, cafes and bars. We loved the waterfront, Greek Taverna, with Aegean views, for fresh fish, lobster, octopus or squid. And the Family Pool Bar was perfect for long lunches in the shade of an ancient olive tree. So forget any preconceptions you have about all inclusive holidays because Amada Colossos may well be the best holiday you’ve ever had.
Creta Maris Beach Resort: a Cretan combo of waterparks and authenticity
If you like your all inclusive holidays authentic, good value and stress-free, we have found you the perfect place. Creta Maris Beach Resort rests on the rugged northern coast of Crete, and is a sprawling, beach-side property built in traditional Cretan style which welcomes families with open arms.
Wandering through its winding lanes with your kids, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you all got lost in a sparkling clean Greek village, complete with bougainvillea and whitewashed walls. There’s a chilled vibe and no one is in a rush here. It’s a joy to happen upon hidden squares, yet undiscovered restaurants, and even a Greek Orthodox chapel.
The best part for a mum travelling solo with two teens was the giant onsite water park. Here I could grab a sun lounger and read two whole books while my kids wore themselves out on the slides.
Feast on organic produce direct from the Creta Maris farm
It was also a joy not to have to think about cooking dinner! We managed to visit all six of the restaurants in the four days of our stay. All were excellent, but we especially loved Pithos. This is the resort’s organic restaurant where 90% of the ingredients are grown at the on-site farm or sourced from local suppliers. We feasted there on Staka: a heady mix of cream cheese, potatoes, eggs and thyme. And we can personally recommend the Keftedes: Greek meatballs with tahini. The morning after our meal, we visited the farm and were shown round by one of the workers who was rightly proud of their crops of herbs, fruits and nuts.
All 680 rooms are spacious, and our modern sea view suite had its own hot tub on the terrace. The kids loved that there were 16 different pools to pick from, tons of water sports and even an outdoor cinema. Younger children will love the Asterias Kids’ Club week with its Greek cooking club and disco. Our time here in the warm Cretan sunshine simply whizzed by.
MarBella Corfu: all inclusive holidays where indulgence is encouraged
MarBella Corfu calls its all inclusive holidays, ‘Ultra All-Inclusive’, and frankly I was sceptical. What does that even mean? But the proof of the pudding is in the pudding, it turns out. As well as in all the food, drink, facilities and entertainment your little heart desires. But there’s plenty here that you might not expect. Think trips out on a traditional wooden Kaiki boat, robotics and ceramics workshops for kids, aerial yoga and unlimited ice cream.
Although the biggest perks here are off-piste. It would be easy to stay put at this lovely resort on the blissfully calm east coast of Corfu. And it would no doubt make commercial sense for the management to encourage that. Instead, you’re given every opportunity to get out and explore the island. There are reduced rates at the on-site car hire company and a ‘Dine Around’ scheme lets you spend resort food & drink credit in local restaurants.
MarBella Corfu couldn’t make island exploration any easier
Getting out and about is a blessing of Zeus-level proportions. The soft-sand beaches on Corfu’s west coast are as perfect as any in the Indian Ocean. There’s history woven into the walls of the island capital, which is fascinating even for kids- the cannons and crenallations help. The intrepid can walk Corfu’s network of olive-tree-lined hill trails. And the indolent can while away whole afternoons in quayside cafes and tavernas, surrounded by plates of meltingly-tender lamb and seafood swimming in garlic and olive oil. Then just add glasses of local wine, the colour of the late-afternoon sun itself.
Back at MarBella, there’s a brand-new waterpark, not to mention two pools and the Ouzo-clear Ionian Sea itself, so kids can splash the dust off after their excursions. The extremely creative kids’ club is new too. There are also six bars and restaurants, as well as a set of lovely laidback terraces down on the shore. That should keep everyone going until the open-air movie starts, poolside, after dark: accompanied, perhaps, by a spot more of ice cream?
Phaselis Bay: the newest addition to Turkey’s stunning Turquoise Riviera
It’s situated on the Lycian Peninsula with a beautiful backdrop of the Taurus Mountains, so the entire resort is framed by green pine forests. The lobby is large enough for a mini Kew Gardens of exotic planting, which gives you an idea of the resort’s size. Yet, despite having 480 rooms, myriad restaurants, patisseries, bars and food trucks it’s still surprisingly easy to get around.
Guests benefit from an “ultra-all inclusive” package and it’s not an empty promise. Think glasses of champagne on tap in the lobby. And there’s a modern gym to burn off the inevitable calorie overload, as well as several bars and a nightclub. The resort even offers a dedicated lounge and fast track service at Antalya’s cavernous airport.
The very cool waterpark reserves its best slides for kids
All rooms are generous in size with walk-in showers and wonderful views of the sea, mountains or the resort gardens. Families love the waterpark where great slides are reserved just for kids because adults can’t be trusted not to hog them. Beluga Kids Club is also right up there with the best. It offers a programme of fun activities which changes weekly. Plus there are different sections dependent on age as well as multi-lingual staff. It has really long opening hours too, which are a boon as many clubs shut in the middle afternoon. And although many activities are outside, for the hotter parts of the day there are plenty of indoor activities and babysitting on offer too.
There is a main beach with gin clear seas, although the sand might be a little coarse for younger kids. Alternatively, if you want some privacy, the resort also features a couple of smaller coves. Meanwhile days out can include a trip to Antalya Old Town and harbour or a even a visit to the home-town of St Nicholas aka Santa Claus. However, most families will be more than content to relax in the warm embrace of the Phaselis Bay itself, cared for by a genuinely friendly team who clearly take great pride in welcoming guests to this quite stunning hotel.
Siyam World: all inclusive holidays in the Maldives are magical for kids
Choosing all inclusive holidays can be overwhelming. Especially as the lists of exclusions, inclusions and extras mount up and all families really want is an amazing experience – with no bill at the end! Nowhere is this truer than in the Maldives: a once-in-a-lifetime destination that’s usually the preserve of honeymooners or lottery winners. Which is why Siyam World is such a game-changer.
Here it’s easy to list what’s free as so much is included, from sunset dolphin cruises to unlimited access to the biggest floating water park in the Indian Ocean. The free kids’ club offers everything from kids’ yoga to learning Dhivehi. There’s complimentary windsurfing as well as pool-scuba and marine biology talks. And if you want an unusual take on paddling or paddle boarding, you can try out the resort’s see-through boards and canoes, for free, of course.
Family rooms with waterslides into the Indian Ocean
For families, or just big kids, every room comes with a water slide into the Indian Ocean. Although big groups or splurging travellers will particularly love the luxury Beach Houses, with private pools and direct access to sugary white sands.
Food options are mind-blowing too. Go for cool cocktail lounges with DJs and indulge in free fizz and kid-friendly mocktails. Nine alfresco restaurants in beautiful settings dish up a world of delicacies from Spain, India, Italy, Thailand, Japan and beyond. Although the kids’ favourite place to eat will most likely be Shipwrecked, set within a replica sinking ship. Grown ups meanwhile will love Takrai, with its over-water pier position and amazing Thai curries.
As an added incentive, if you stay five nights or more – and you should – a seaplane flight in Siyam World’s Maldivian-painted aircraft is thrown in too.
Beaches Turks & Caicos or Jamaica: voted the best all inclusive resorts in the world, again and again
Beaches Resorts are designed exclusively for families and offer the most incredible Luxury Included® holidays. You’ll find them in Negril or Ocho Rios in Jamaica and also in Providenciales in Turks & Caicos, and every one is dedicated to raising the bar for all inclusive.
Amazingly, Beaches even include unlimited land and water sports like paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and beach volleyball. You can play golf for free at some resorts. And if you’re a PADI certified diver, complimentary scuba is yours for the taking too. As well as sitting on some of the world’s loveliest beaches, every resort features Pirates Island waterparks which are among the best anywhere in the Caribbean.
Caribbean sunshine, spectacular beaches and Sesame Street too
Beaches’ longstanding Sesame Street partnership means younger kids can enjoy activities like daily character parade, baking with the Cookie Monster or story time with Elmo. And for an additional charge, Beaches can arrange for your kids to have breakfast with whole the Sesame Street gang or have a favourite character read them a bedtime story. If you’re on holiday with teens, they have their own games arcade and Club Liquid nightclub. Phenomenally cool kids camps are another teen treat as well as phenomenally sporty kids’ camps. Plus they’ll be thrilled to learn that Beaches Turks and Caicos is home to the first surf simulator in the Caribbean.
Beaches attained Advanced Certified Autism Centre (ACAC) accreditation. This means that all families can now experience luxury all inclusive holidays in the Caribbean. Additionally, staff in the entertainment, water sports and kids’ camps have received training on interacting with children who have additional needs. For a nominal fee, families can also book a ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ for personalised, private childcare and all Beaches Resorts feature Julia, Sesame Street’s first autistic character.
Beaches Resorts boast up to 21 dining options per property. Restaurants feature cuisines from around the world and premium spirits, Robert Mondavi Twin Oak wines, a selection of beers and curated cocktails are available at speciality bars at each resort. And as all-inclusive resorts are perfect for multi-gen holidays, Beaches Negril and Beaches Turks and Caicos feature large Concierge and Butler TogetherNest suites which sleep up to 14 guests.
Hilton La Romana: the beachiest all inclusive holidays in the Dominican Republic
A whisper of anxiety ripples round the crowd. We’ve been at the Hilton La Romana in Playa Bayahibe for a week, and this is the first time we’ve seen any guest not beaming.
All morning, chefs have been setting up a huge barbecue on the beach. We’ve watched them sweltering as they haul steel drums across the sand under the Caribbean sun. But now, as the grill is getting hot, sweat’s appearing on the brows of guests too: “Em, where’s the food…?”
Then, just when it seems a riot is about to break out, a boat glides up on to the sand. A guy in a Hilton tee-shirt jumps from the prow and he’s proudly holding an armful of truly spectacular, just-caught fish. Relieved, the swim-suited crowd cheers and all smiles are restored.
Glorious sun holidays with authentic Caribbean atmosphere
This then is an all-inclusive with a dash of authenticity as part of the package. Fly-&-flop megaresorts might carpet the east coast of the Dominican Republic in concrete, but Hilton La Romana sits pretty on the island’s quieter southern shore. It’s also within day-trip distance of the historic capital, Santo Domingo. A waterfall-and-walking-trail-strewn interior is another adventure in waiting. And then there’s neighbouring Cotubanamá National Park for exquisitely unspoiled, hammock-hung beaches and islets.
The resort’s food, drink, entertainment and service all share a distinctive local touch. But best of all, the resort is divided into two halves. On the western side, it’s all families. But, head to the eastern end, and it’s couples-only. That means never having to apologise sheepishly for how much noise your kids are making. Plus, thanks to good WIFI and a simple baby-monitor app on your phone, you can sneak off to the ‘adult’ bit for an evening of good food and excellent cocktails like you used to have. We particularly loved the silent disco. Although, once we realised no-one could hear our soundtrack, we swapped Merengue for Soft Rock. Well there’s such a thing as too authentic, right?
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