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Secrets vs Couples vs Sandals. Which is the best all inclusive for adults?


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Having stayed at more than 30 adult only all inclusive resorts including Secrets, Couples, Sandals, Iberostar Grande, El Dorado and more, I am frequently asked which is the best all inclusive resort.  All of these resort groups are quality brand name chains.  All have multiple locations in the Caribbean and Mexico with newer and older resorts, bigger and smaller hotels, simpler and more luxurious settings.  All have special features that may be on your wish list and all offer a range of room categories and price points with varying amenities and services.

So what if your destination is flexible and money is no object?   Which is the best adult only all inclusive resort?  I still don’t have a quick answer because it’s like naming a favorite restaurant.  My favorites are Italian, Mexican and Thai but you may be a steak or sushi person and choosing the best is difficult because they are totally different. That said, there are some broad generalizations I am willing to make about adult only all inclusive resorts  -

  • El Dorado, Secrets and Iberostar Grande are best for single adults, adults traveling with friends,  multi-generational families with adult children and couples that find PDA’s a bit much.
  • Sandals Resorts are best for a romantic getaway, honeymoon or destination wedding with a couples only format and large selection of islands, resort locations, room styles and prices.
  • Sandals Resorts include the widest range of motorized and non motorized watersports, land sports, resort activities and evening entertainment.
  • Couples Resorts include more off resort tours.
  • Iberostar Grand has more organized group activities and a higher rate of participation.
  • Iberostar Grand has the most opulent lobbies and grounds and their pools compete with Sandals’ fantasy pools for best in class.
  • All of these resorts are beachfront but not all beaches are created equal, so again, it’s important to be specific.  Each of the chains has resorts with great and not so great beaches.
  • All of the resorts have specialty international restaurants and a high standard of food quality and presentation and all but Secrets offer dining options with and without reservations.
  • In bars and lounges all of these resorts include alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages with top shelf brands available.  All include house wines and beer with bottles of wine available for purchase.
  • Iberostar Grand has the most luxurious entry level rooms with shared butler service, jetted soaking tubs and more.
  • Rooms at Secrets are contemporary in styling and we love the “Secret box” for do not disturb room service delivery.
  • Rooms and suites at Sandals Resorts are  more traditional in decor and range from standard hotel rooms to beachfront villas and “to die for” millionaire suites with private pool and butler
  • Rooms at Couples Resorts can be minimalistic although we love the plantation suites at Couples Swept Away and every room has what you need to be comfortable.
  • Room service and in room bars vary widely within chains and even room categories. Only Sandals includes full size bottles of liquor, wine and champagne plus beer, soft drinks, mixers, fruit juice and water in concierge rooms and butler suites. Standard rooms include soft drinks, water and juice. Couples allows you to personalize a minibar with a selection of liquor, wine and beer but quantities are restricted and champagne is not an option. Secrets includes beer, soft drinks and water in every room and Preferred Club rooms add alcohol but no wine or champagne. Iberostar Grand offers a selection of wine and liquor in airplane sized bottles plus beer, soft drinks and water.

Hopefully this gives you a starting point to find the best all inclusive resort for your tropical honeymoon or adult only vacation. For more detail, please read our individual resort reviews of Secrets, Couples, El Dorado and Sandals Resorts. Then call or email if you’d like help choosing the best resort for you and we’ll talk about your wish list and priorities.  I’ve been to all the popular destinations and stayed at almost all the resorts and can help you find the perfect spot!

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