Do you have a question about planning a family vacation? Ask Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, the family vacations expert at About.com.
Question: We are a family of seven, and my wife and I are trying to find an all-inclusive resort that includes all meals and drinks. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Florida are where we want to go, but finding a package like this is becoming nearly impossible. We want to go for five nights in the latter part of July. Can you please help us? —Mitch and Valerie from Melissa, TX
Suzanne says: My guess is that you're looking for all-inclusives you can visit without a passport. I'm not surprised you've had trouble. The three destinations you are targeting are not known for all-inclusive resorts—in contrast to Mexico and many Caribbean islands, where all-inclusives are much more plentiful. Even so, I have got some good options for you.
As you know from your research, Hawaii does not have any truly all-inclusive resorts in the traditional sense. What's more common is a semi-inclusive, or "Hawaiian-style all-inclusive," package that includes accommodations, one meal, and perhaps an experience (such as a dinner cruise or luau) and/or a rental car. I've written about Hawaiian resorts that come the closest to being all-inclusive but, honestly, I don't think they are what you're looking for.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay Resort in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is a true all-inclusive and as family friendly as they come. Prices include accommodations, all meals, a slew of family activities, and a fabulous children's program for kids age 4 months to 17 years, complete with a circus school and tennis academy. Also included: Meal-time beverages, including wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. During non-meal times, there's an open bar for drinks and snacks served during the day and evening.
Insider tip: There always seems to be a sale going on at Club Med, often with savings of up to 45 percent, so you should never pay full price. Instead, check the special offers page and sign up for email alerts. Best of all (perhaps, depending on the ages of your children), kids under age 4 stay free at Club Med.
Copamarina Resort, on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, is not an all-inclusive per se, but it offers several special packages that are either all-inclusive or close to it. For example, the Full American Luxury Meal Plan includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, non-alcoholic beverages during all the meals, and the alcoholic beverages at dinner time only (beer and house wine by the glass). The package surcharges are $100 per adult, $85 per teen ( age 13-17), and $50 per kid (age 6-12). Kids are welcome and there are plenty of ways to have fun as a family, but there is no dedicated children's program.
You didn't ask about the US Virgin Islands, another tropical destination that does not require a passport. Here are three all-inclusive USVI resorts recommended by About.com's Caribbean Travel Expert.
Yet another option that may have appeal is a family cruise to a tropical destination. While cruises are typically not 100% all-inclusive, cruise fares include accommodations, all meals, and many activities. Beverage plans can be pre-purchased to make the fare even more inclusive.
Finally, you are looking for dates in late July, which falls during hurricane season in the Caribbean and Atlantic. That shouldn't make you cancel your trip, but you should definitely buy travel insurance that covers hurricanes. It also may be a point in favor of opting for a cruise, since ships can avoid storms by simply going somewhere else—something a resort can't do.
I hope this information is helpful. Enjoy your trip!
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