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Secrets, Excellence or Sandals – Which is the Best All-Inclusive Resort for Adults?

A few years back we wrote a post comparing Secrets vs Couples vs Sandals Resorts but things change fast in the travel biz and new players have come on strong in the adult only all inclusive market. Having stayed at almost all the adult only resorts including Excellence, Iberostar Grand, Hyatt, El Dorado and aforementioned Secrets, Couples and Sandals, we are often asked which is the best all-inclusive resort for adults.  All of these resorts are quality brands with multiple locations. All have 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 prices 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.  Mine would be Italian but you may prefer steak or sushi and choosing the best is difficult because they are totally different. That said, there are some broad generalizations we can make about adult only all-inclusive resorts plus specific recommendations for some best in category resorts.

Target Clientele and Special Inclusions

  • Excellence, Secrets and Iberostar Grand Collection are top choices for adults traveling with friends, families with adult children, singles and couples. These resorts allow 1-4 adults to share a room and have a choice of bedding in various room categories.
  • Sandals Resorts are best for couples planning a honeymoon, romantic getaway, destination wedding, vow renewal or anniversary. With 16 couples only resorts on 7 islands, Sandals has the broadest price range, largest selection of room styles all with king beds, includes free weddings at every resort and gives free nights for anniversaries.
  • Hyatt, a newcomer to the all-inclusive market, has adult only properties adjacent to family friendly resorts with select public areas and restaurants reserved for adults. This works particularly well for mixed groups and multi-generational families.
  • Breathless caters to adults seeking a livelier vibe and more nightlife.
  • Iberostar Grand has more organized group activities and a higher rate of participation than other adult all inclusives.
  • Couples has the Caribbean’s first unlimited spa service option with treatments included along with meals, drinks and other land and water activities. Couples also includes more off site tours.
  • Sandals Resorts includes the widest range of land and watersports, resort activities and evening entertainment. Activities like snorkel trips, tubing, waterskiing, scuba diving and golf are free at Sandals but cost extra elsewhere.


Beaches & pools

  • All of our favorite adult only resorts are beachfront but not all beaches are created equal, so it’s important to be specific. Our picks for best beach would be Sandals Emerald Bay and Iberostar Grand Bavaro followed by Secrets Akumal, Sandals Grande Antigua and El Dorado Maroma.
  • Excellence and Iberostar Grand have fabulous pools as do some Secrets and Sandals Resorts. Our best pool award goes to Sandals Royal Barbados with the Caribbean’s first rooftop pool plus stunning beachfront pool and hundreds of rooms and suites with private pool or swim up feature. Wowzer!

Restaurants and bars

  • All of these top quality adult only all-inclusive resorts have specialty international restaurants and a high standard of food quality and presentation.
  • All include alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages including beer, wine and cocktails with top shelf brands available.  Bottles of wine and champagnes are available for purchase.
  • Excellence and Secrets are known for no reservation dining.
  • Sandals Resorts can accommodate celiac and other dietary restrictions with an onsite culinary concierge at every resort.
  • In room bars vary widely. Only Sandals includes full size bottles of liquor, wine and champagne plus beer, soft drinks, mixers, fruit juice and water in Club Level and Butler Suites. Standard rooms include soft drinks, water and juice. Couples Resorts allow you to personalize a minibar with a selection of liquor, wine and beer but quantities are limited and champagne is not an option. Secrets Resorts include 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.
  • Room service varies within chains and even room categories. Excellence and Secrets earn top honors with 24/7 room service for all guests and a “secret box” for delivery and pick up without intruding on your privacy.

Rooms and services

  • Iberostar Grand has the most luxurious entry level rooms with shared butler service, jetted soaking tubs and more.
  • Most Excellence and Secrets Resorts are contemporary in styling and offer private pools and swim up rooms however “beachfront” rooms can be problematic as many are far from the beach and have a limited ocean view.
  • Sandals Resorts offer everything from standard rooms to “sand in your toes” beachfront rooms, overwater bungalows, swim up rooms and villas with private pools. The décor at Sandals runs the gamut from traditional to modern and services are provided at three levels – Luxury, Club Level and Sandals crème de la crème Butler Service.
  • 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

Hopefully this gives you a starting point to find the best all-inclusive resort for your adult only vacation, tropical honeymoon or destination wedding. For more information please call, email or request a quote. We’ve been to all the popular destinations, stayed at almost all the resorts and would love to help you choose the best adult only all-inclusive resort for you!

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