“Hey, Addison! What is the best Caribbean all inclusive resort?!”
Yup, this is a question I hear almost daily.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of touring, well, the bulk majority of 4* and 5* resorts across the Caribbean. I’ve seen gorgeous resorts that make my jaw drop…and I’ve also toured resorts where I needed a shower and full-body cleanse thereafter.
Here, let’s take a peek at what is the best Caribbean all-inclusive resort. Let’s break it down together.
[Don’t have time to read?! Skip to the bottom for my short answer!]
All-Inclusive – A Concept With Many Meanings
As with many tourism terms, we hear the term “all-inclusive” thrown around in so many contexts. Officially, all-inclusive is full board plus drinks, meaning the resort should provide food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at least “some drinks.” However, take a look at how different the below scenarios are:
- Resort 1: A tattered 3* resort in Jamaica with guests of all ages and a basic buffet that doesn’t rotate the menu – minimal activities included.
- Resort 2: A gorgeous 5* resort in Turks and Caicos that is dedicated to families with the highest 5* luxuries – all activities inclusive with watersports.
- Resort 3: A 4* adult-only resort in Mexico that was created to be prestigious, but is overrun with college party groups of student drinkers who would be underage in the USA.
- Resort 4: A 5* innovative resort in Grenada that is both couples-only and premium all-inclusive with all activities included such as motorized watersports.
Now, for each individual searching for their next Caribbean adventure, one might find themselves choosing any of these alternatives based on budget and chapter in life.
To better rank my best all-inclusive resort, I need to set some basic criteria. To do so, I’m going to consider the best all-inclusive resort for a middle-aged couple based on the following factors:
- Adults-Only / Couples-Only
- Activities Included
- Quality of Dining
- Luxury Amenities
- Value for Money
A Worthy Brand, A Worthy Resort
In a sea of independent resorts and “superbrands” like Secrets, Couples, Bahia Principe, will the resort I rank the best fall under one of these?
For me, there’s not a brand in the Caribbean I haven’t sampled, which has solidified my decision.
And the winner is…Sandals Resorts!
Excluding the fact that Sandals has been ranked the world’s #1 all-inclusive resort brand for 24 years in-a-row, I’ve fallen in love with the brand due to the sincerity of service, understanding of what creates a luxury environment, and the majestic inclusions.
When deciding my favorite, or the “best”, it is a close tie for me: Sandals Grenada and Sandals Royal Barbados.
However, with the 6 criteria I listed below, we have a winner in Sandals Royal Barbados.
With a 2-in-1 resort setup, Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados are situated along the award-winning white powdery sands and stunning blue water of Maxwell Beach. Located just minutes from the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) and near the heart of the capital city of Bridgetown, you couldn’t ask for a more premium location.
In the era of adult-only resort popularity, Sandals is not only adult-only, but couples-only. With very few exceptions (like a single mother of a bride for a wedding), to visit to Sandals, you need to be a couple, or…at least pretend. 🙂
Compared to other adult-only brands, many overflowing with “adult” teenagers in overly-intoxicated drinking groups, at Sandals you’ll find a brand focused on exclusive luxury and couples romance. After all, the official slogan is “Love Is All You Need.”
For me, even when touring respectable adult-only brands like Secrets, I can’t help but notice that something is amiss: that special couples-focused romance vibe with all the associated flair.
At Sandals Royal Barbados, you’ll find both young and old couples and, occasionally, small groups of couples celebrating together. You can exclusively spend romantic time with your loved one or befriend another couple in the resort to partake in dining or the massive array of activities. At this resort, the choice is yours!
Are you the type that likes a lot included in a package? If so, you don’t need to look further than SRB. In fact, while there are other resorts that have “more” restaurants and activities, you’ll likely not find a selection as premium as this location – particularly for the value.
For activities in particular, there is a wonderful selection – all included!
Here’s just a sample of what you’ll find at this stunning resort – inclusive, I might add:
- Hobie Cats
- Underwater Glass Bottom Boat
- Boogie Boards
- PADI Scuba Diving
Moreover, there’s so much more than watersports when it comes to activities. From volleyball, cricket, board games, table tennis, and pool, the list goes on and on!
Did you know that Sandals Royal Barbados even features the Caribbean’s only included multi-lane bowling alley?! Of course, this Lover’s Lane Bowling Alley would NOT be complete without it’s famous Lover’s Lane Craft Beer Bar serving 20 ice-cold craft beers in a wraparound style.
Oh, and entertainment? Where do you begin?! From bar-specific entertainment to resort-wide themed evenings like white parties, chocolate buffets, and professional live music, it’s impossible to be bored. With something for everyone, this really is paradise.
Quality of Dining
Ok, I’ll bite. Dining is perhaps my favorite part of a good resort. For me, the rest of a resort could be brilliant, but if we’re missing that critical element of high quality dining, that’s a major letdown for me.
Alas, I know I’m not alone in this, so you might appreciate that this rating is one of my most important features in my top rating of Sandals Royal Barbados.
While you can view a full list of included restaurants on the Sandals Royal Barbados and Sandals Barbados pages, there are a few champions that really deserve a shout-out.
Butch’s Steak & Seafood
I’m not shy in admitting that I’m a foodie. In particular, I love steak and seafood – but it needs to be high-quality. So, what if one could eat at a Michelin-quality steakhouse as much as they wanted with their Sandals package? Sounds pretty amazing to me.
At Butch’s (named after the famous founder of Sandals, Gordon “Butch” Stewart), you’ll be delighted with top cuts of beef and a wide array of seafood. From filet mignon to grilled monkfish, the menu is full of top-rated delicacies. In fact, click here for a sample of the deliciousness that lives on the menus (note: not sure why there’s no lobster on this sample menu, but I’ve had lobster every time I’ve dined at Butch’s – a few islands do have seasonal lobster-replenishing restrictions, though – FYI.)
Here’s a photo I snapped a few months back of one of my tasty Butch’s experiences (filet mignon with lobster tail – pardon the cut, I got so excited, I cut in before thinking to photograph haha!):
Sweet N’ Salty’s Gourmet Donuts & Coffee
Another must-eat which would be a sin to neglect to mention at Sandals Royal Barbados is their exclusive Sweet N’ Salty’s.
In fact, almost any words I saw on this will be inadequate, so I’ll just leave you with this photo and a sample menu. Just remember…it’s all inclusive. Start dieting now!
Check out this mouthwatering sample menu.
You’ll find a full list of other delicious restaurants at this resort here.
At a Sandals resorts, there are three different categories of luxury: Luxury, Club Sandals, and Butler Elite. As you might imagine, the luxury and amenities increase, accordingly. However, because Sandals Royal Barbados has only the top two tiers, all guests start out with a massive range of amenities not found at many other resorts.
Some standard inclusions that would be the same at any Sandals resort include the fine dining, unlimited land and watersports, premium bars, gorgeous suites, resort transfers, stunning beaches, and a wide array of entertainment.
However, at Sandals Royal Barbados one receives all of this, but so much more! As an all-suite resort, guests take advantage of the extensive concierge services that come complimentary with Club Sandals benefits. From resort orientations and a dedicated lounge to upscale suites with high quality amenities and exclusive activities, the list goes on and on.
As it that’s not enough, all Butler Elite suites take advantage of dedicated butler services and larger suites with top-shelf in-room bars.
Sandals uses the trademark “Luxury Included” when describing packages as that is exactly the premise of an experience at Sandals – a stay with Sandals includes luxuries many other resorts wouldn’t.
The best part for me? These extra services and amenities aren’t given with a grudging heart; the staff are typically full of smiles and joy. Yaaa man!
Value For Money
Let’s cut to the chase: Sandals Royal Barbados isn’t cheap. Heck, no Sandals resort is cheap. Indeed, I’d argue no resort worthy of a special occasion will be so. However, we’re looking at the category of “best” here and, in particular, value for money. Now is my opportunity to emphasize that value for money is not equivalent to cheap when it comes to ranking quality resorts.
Rather, I define this value in terms of what’s included and the attentiveness of luxury with any given package.
When examining 5* resorts across the Caribbean, there are a lot of stunning resorts out there that are “cheaper.” This, however, doesn’t make this better value for money to me.
On the island of Barbados you can easily pay 5x what Sandals Royal Barbados costs, but are those guests receiving more? Not really. At some point, there’s a cap on what you receive for your money; unless we are talking about super-exclusive private islands for those with a high net worth, one would struggle to find a resort that offers more included at an “special-occasion budget” for us “everyday folk”.
When I visit this mesmerizing resort, I can go with the confidence that I can have as much fine dining as I want, unlimited activities, have dreamy views, and be in utter romantic bliss with my every need cared for. With the nicest suites, nicest restaurants, nicest amenities, and nicest views in the Sandals portfolio, the slightly higher price tag is acceptable.
So, Sandals Royal Barbados is the best all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean?
We all know that rankings are subject to opinion, but for me, the answer is a resounding YES based on the 6 criteria we set at the beginning of this post (with a couple of close contenders like Sandals Grenada).
Summary: I rank Sandals Royal Barbados the #1 resort in the Caribbean when averaging the features of location, adult-only, included activities, quality of dining, luxury amenities, and value for money.
Would you like to know more about this resort or perhaps something else Caribbean-related?
I’m a proud Caribbean specialist and would love to help you find something amazing, whether it’s for a honeymoon, anniversary, another special occasion, or just a lovely trip together as a couple.
20 thoughts on “What Is The Best Caribbean All Inclusive Resort – A Commonly-Asked Question, Answered”
Great job on this one. Thank for writing this review article on what is the best Caribbean all inclusive resort available. These are really wonderful looking resorts you have listed above. Getting the chance to spend some quality time at either of these resorts was my dream for my dad.
Awesome, I’m glad you enjoyed the review! They are some special resorts, indeed! I’m in total love with Sandals Royal Barbados! 🙂
Thank you for writing a review of Sandals resort. The resort seems really nice for a couple to spend their honeymoon phase. I think this will be suitable for my need. I have two questions here: First, can we book the resort for multiple couples from the beginning? Second, do they provide vegan friendly food? Thanks for your answer.
Hello, thank you for your great comment! Sandals Royal Barbados is really a terrific resort – well, all the Sandals Resorts are, but that is my favorite!
Great questions! You can definitely book for more than one multiple couples; the easiest way to do this is by each couple putting a deposit on their preferred room (simply click the Book Now button) and once their are various booking numbers, we can certainly associate these.
It is very common for couples to travel together – both for celebrations and general vacationing. For more than 6 rooms, I always recommend sending me a message and I can do a special group setup for you that can’t be done online.
Your final question is a great one and the answer is a resounding yes! Each Sandals Resort has a dedicated culinary concierge desk where those with special requirements or allergies can stop by and discuss all the menus and any chef requests.
I have had clients with every type of dietary requirement imaginable and their needs have been handled beautifully.
Any other questions , do let me know! 🙂
Hello there, i am glad to have come across this review of yours as it is very helpful to me in searching for a nice resort in the caribbeans. The ones listed here are all jaw dropping but it seems there is something special and unique about the Sandals Royal Barbados as you have recommended that for us, it will be an honor to visit there
Wonderful! It is indeed a special resort and I have no doubt that you will have a spectacular time.
If I can answer any questions for you at any point, don’t hesitate to say.
Have a great day!
I must say getting to spend some time in these resorts that you listed above would be awesome as they are really top-notch…Thanks for sharing this awesome article. I hope it helps others as it has helped me, and by the beginning of next year I know my family would love one of these resorts.
Thanks for your comment!
I’m happy to hear you found this article helpful.
Have a great day! 🙂
It is very thoughtful of you to share this article in which you’ve answered one of the most asked questions which is what is the best caribbean all inclusive resort. There are lots of places in the country and beyond that are very exquisite the one can go to have fun, it’s very nice to you to share.
Nice to meet you!
I am glad you found the article helpful; there are so many places to sort through when making a luxury vacation decision. I hope this blog can make that a bit simpler. 🙂
My wife and I would like to visit the Caribbean. And Barbados has been at the top of our list. We would like to visit the “Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison”. Since it was added back on 25 June 2011 as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO, Bridgetown has been on our bucketlist. We both enjoyed reading your review.
Awesome! In my opinion, Bridgetown is massively underrated; it is a really unique and vibrant place.
The Sandals Resorts are such a good option for this because of their amazing location – best beach, but just moments away from the heart of the UNESCO cultural region.
When you gear up for your trip, definitely drop me a message.
Great to hear from you! 🙂
I’ve never been to Barbados or traveled with Sandals, but I have heard such enticing reviews of their resorts. Yeah, it’s a couples thing and I never seem to be in a couple. What about us singles (who’d like to avoid the drunk college so-called adults)? Where can singles (traveling solo or in small groups) have this luxurious experience? We all like to splurge, right. Solo romance is a real thing and I want to be pampered and a place like SRB. What to do, Addison?
Great comment and question! 🙂
I certainly understand this dilemma and just might have a solution.
First, the fact that groups of singles are forbidden at Sandals 100% takes care of that drunk underage-in-America-but-underage-in-Caribbean-so-soooo-intoxicated problem 🙂
Now, Sandals is a couples resort, yes. However, want to know something kinda sneaky? I’ve sent dozens of single people to Sandals together. In this modern era, no questions are asked about two people of the same sex checking in together. I recently had a gals-party of 4 ladies who shared two suites together. It was the time of their life! The super-luxury atmosphere and focus on romance actually gives it a really cool vibe for single people traveling together also, because of the extreme attention to detail and luxury touches everywhere. The only mandatory thing for this trick to work is traveling in even-numbers. 🙂
For those not inclined for the above or traveling solo / odd numbers, I must heavily recommend Beaches Resorts. They are owned and founded by the same gentleman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart. Both brands have many of the shared features, but Beaches Resorts is marketed as resorts for everyone.
Indeed, even here you won’t find drunk college “kids” because the marketing and luxury elements (and price) of the resort lends itself to families, middle-aged singles, and couples. It seems the college group is going to hit up the cheapest all-inclusive in Cancun usually – maximum drink of questionable quality for the least money – the college dream, right?!
If you are ever interested in having a peek at Beaches, my #1 recommendation is Beaches Turks & Caicos – a resort I believe to be the best all-inclusive resort for everyone. For those more price sensitive, Beaches Ocho Rios is the cheapest of those in the brand.
Any questions, don’t hesitate to send them my way!
I hope this helps! 🙂
Always wanted to visit the Caribbean on a holiday and the Sandals Resort is absolutely divine! I’ve seen a couple of movies there too, like Tom Cruise’s Cocktail and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was just amazed by the beauty of it, definitely a place one needs to visit at least once in their entire lives.
I’m definitely going there after this whole pandemic is over. Do you think they’re still open during there at this season?
You’re so right! When I was there right before COVID began, Daniel Craig was in-resort (Jamaica) shooting a scene for James Bond. The choice for many films located in these destinations and in these resorts certainly says something, right?!
You most definitely should go! Sandals Royal Barbados is a dream, but any of the other 14 resorts in this brand are also sublime!
…and yes, all but 3 of the resorts in the portfolio are open as of this comment! I had a client wedding in Saint Lucia 3 weeks ago, and have 3 different clients in different resorts/islands this very moment! 🙂
The safety protocols have been awesome – you can have a peek.
If I recall properly, Sandles was initially a singles resort and quickly got a reputation for being a somewhat slimy “pick-up zone”. It’s nice to see they’ve cleaned up their reputation and are now a preferred destination spot! I would love to go there and take advantage of their all-inclusive delights. I would hit Sweet N’ Salty’s first…it looks yummy! The only problem is that I’m not a couple. I think I’ll take your suggestion and find someone who wants to pretend with me!
While I think you are thinking of another brand (as Sandals has only welcomed couples since their 1981 opening), you are indeed correct about reputation enhancement! If you were to compare the original Sandals at Montego Bay and the current Sandals Montego Bay, you’d think you were looking at an entirely different world! Some hard work and determination, and an appliance salesman (Butch Stewart) took a shady, run down hotel and turned it into a billion+ dollar empire that holds the world’s #1 rating! Not too shabby, right?! 🙂
Due to not having any holidays this year, your post on what are the best Caribbean holidays to go on is a very tempting prospect. Hopefully next year this will give us all something to look forward to! Some great info here and I will certainly consider some of the places you have recommended.
I’m thrilled you’ve dropped in! You’re spot on – we all need something special after the year 2020 has been!
See you around! 🙂