Top Luxury All-Inclusives in Central, South America to Book Now

Secrets Papagayo, Costa Rica’s Preferred Club Presidential Suite has a terrace with hot tub.

Once considered primarily a mass-market product, all-inclusives have increasingly positioned their product to attract luxury travelers. And while they are predominantly found in Mexico and the Caribbean, there are a growing number of all-inclusive beach resorts in Central and South America as well, with more on the way. Here is a sampling.

Hard Rock International has announced plans to bring the Hard Rock Hotels experience to Costa Rica with the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Papagayo, Costa Rica. In collaboration with Sunwing Travel Group, the company is set to open Central America’s first Hard Rock hotel by early 2019. The hotel will be managed by Blue Diamond Resorts, no stranger to the world of all-inclusives. 

The 294-room modern retreat will be centrally located about 30 minutes from Liberia International Airport, providing travelers with easy access to Papagayo’s gulf and peninsula. It will be home to exclusive Hard Rock brand offerings, such as a full-service Rock Spa and “The Sound of Your Stay” music amenity program offering free in-room Fender guitar checkouts. 

Clients will also have the opportunity to upgrade their accommodation to the Rock Royalty Level where they are eligible for VIP services, including preferred room locations, personal assistants, upgraded bath amenities and unique music perks. 

Plans call for Hard Rock Hotel Papagayo, Costa Rica to cater to multigenerational leisure travelers with several family-friendly offerings, such as the brand’s two signature hangouts exclusively for younger guests, “Teen Spirit” and “Hard Rock Roxity Kids Club.”

In addition, plans call for an array of dining options, ranging from an all-day buffet restaurant to four à la carte eateries, including a North American steakhouse, an Asian restaurant, an Italian trattoria and an internationally inspired eatery.

All-inclusive aficionados who don’t wish to wait two years to visit this biodiverse Central American playground may consider the “Unlimited-Luxury” Secrets Papagayo, Costa Rica. For VIPs seeking a sanctuary for the senses, there is the Secrets Spa by Pevonia, which has 13 treatment rooms, and includes a Swiss shower, sauna, steam room, private shower and a relaxing indoor lounge area. 

Ecuador’s Barceló Colón Miramar was expanded, upgraded from four to five stars, and renamed the Barceló Salinas.

The spa comes with a range of services, including massages, body treatments, rejuvenating facials, manicures and pedicures, along with an array of spa packages and pampering for your hands, feet and nails. Nice Touch: The spa also comes with a full-service beauty salon, and includes three outdoor rooms, with one on the beach. Note: Suggest your clients book treatments at least two weeks in advance to ensure availability. 

The most high-end room available is the Preferred Club Presidential Suite, which has two bedrooms with king-size beds; a separate living area with bar and a terrace with a hot tub. Tip: This room is a Preferred Club room. Guests who book through the Preferred Club have access to the exclusive onsite Preferred Club lounge, where they can unwind and indulge in light bites and beverages. Good to know: Even though onsite accommodations do not offer personal butler service, concierge and room service are available 24 hours a day.

Foodies can indulge in an array of international cuisines at three à la carte restaurants, one buffet and a café. Guests can also sneak away for a romantic meal in their suite with 24-hour room service. Note: There are no reservations at any of the restaurants. VIPs can walk in and dine at whatever time they please during the restaurant’s open hours. The onsite restaurants are reserved for resort guests only. Private on-beach dining can be organized for guests during their stay. The concierge can also arrange for bottles of in-room champagne and wine, or desserts.

Golf enthusiasts can hit the fairways at the Arnold Palmer-designed Peninsula Papagayo Golf Course, an 18-hole, par-72 championship course roughly 30 minutes from the resort. Golf can be scheduled at an additional cost. 

Farther up the Pacific Coast in Nicaragua, the Barceló Montelimar hotel is nestled on a black-sand beach, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation where guests can view some of the best Pacific sunsets. Accommodations include an array of oceanfront bungalows. Dining in the buffet restaurant is included in the rate and three themed à la carte restaurants serve meals for an additional charge. There are also seven bars by the three pools, entertainment and a casino.

In November, Ecuador’s Barceló Colón Miramar was expanded with the addition of an all-suite tower, upgraded from four to five stars, and renamed the Barceló Salinas. The beachfront hotel in Salinas, 86 miles west of Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, has a buffet for dining on the all-inclusive plan; two à la carte restaurants — Mediterranean and sushi bar — for an additional charge; two snack bars and a cocktail bar. 

There’s a swimming pool for adults and children (with lifeguard), as well as a pool on the beachfront. Sports lovers can work out in the air-conditioned gym, play basketball or soccer on the concrete court within the complex, or get into a volleyball game on the beach. Whale sightings are possible from July through September. Other activities include water aerobics, dance therapy, foosball and ping-pong. The disco is free and local drinks are included, offering evening entertainment until 1 a.m. Spa services are available for an extra fee.

In Ecuador’s neighbor to the north, Barceló Salinas’ sister five-star hotel, Occidental Cartagena, occupies a stretch of Caribbean beachfront on Colombia’s Manzanillo Bay. Guests can take a dip in the swimming pool, stroll through the lush gardens, or snorkel and dive at the beach. For golf lovers, the Jack Nicklaus Design layout at TPC Cartagena at Karibana, a PGA Tour host course, accommodates golfers of all skill levels. 

Occidental Cartagena occupies a stretch of Caribbean beachfront on Colombia’s Manzanillo Bay.

The all-inclusive rate covers dining at La Palapa Buffet as well as three à la carte restaurants: La Trattoria, for pizzas and other Italian specialties; Nativo, specializing in international cuisine and seafood; and The Grill serving a variety of meat dishes. There are also lounge, pool and beach bars. Family-friendly features include a children’s swimming pool, The Kids’ Club and babysitting services. 

Your Brazil-bound clients can choose from several top-name-brand all-inclusive resorts. The Iberostar Bahia and Iberostar Praia Do Forte are a pair of five-star all-inclusive property on the shores of Praia do Forte that cater to families with children and romantic couples alike. Ecotourists should appreciate the hotels’ close proximity to the Atlantic Forest, full of natural lakes and some of the best beaches in Brazil. In addition, Praia do Forte is a good place to discover coral reefs and to spot humpback whales (in summer) and sea turtles. Guests staying at either hotel will find themselves surrounded by natural scenic beauty.

Both hotels have a Lucy Kids Club (for ages 4 to 12), a children’s playground and pool, a baby center and, for a fee, baby-sitting services. For grownups each has a nightclub and entertainment, and, for an extra charge, Spa Sensations, which provides health and beauty treatments that incorporate the beneficial properties of water and seaweed. Gastronomy offerings include à la carte restaurants, buffets and several bars. 

In Manaus, Iberostar Grand Amazon, a five-star cruise ship-hotel with full amenities, stops at various points in the Amazon jungle to allow guests to take excursions on small boats to explore the dense native vegetation. 

The Grand Palladium Imbassai Resort & Spa is set within the Imbassaí nature reserve, alongside the sea of Costa dos Coqueiros and home to the river that gives it its name. The resort’s pristine beaches, dunes and protected environment make it a distinctively different setting for a vacation, wedding or event. About a 10-minute walk from Imbassaí, near the village of Praia Do Forte and about 45 minutes from the airport of Salvador, the resort’s design reflects harmony between the luxury facilities of a first-class resort and the natural environment of coconut groves and rivers that make up the “Green Line” coast of the region. 

The resort has 654 junior suites; a spa with a wide variety of services and treatments; baby club, mini club and teen’s club; handicap facilities; and several dining choices. The latter include three themes, à la carte restaurants, three buffets, and room service between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., as well as 13 bars, including a swim-up bar and sports bar.

Free basic Wi-Fi access is available throughout the complex after registering in Palladium Hotel Group’s network; premium Wi-Fi is available at extra cost. Laundry service and an Internet café are also available for a fee. 

The Iberostar Bahia Hotel in Praia do Forte has altogether 632 rooms. Two of these are Presidential Suites seen above.

Access to the wet areas (hot tubs, pool, sauna and steam baths) in the resort’s Zentropia Palladium Spa & Wellness centers carry a $10 fee per guest, per day. However, Palladium Travel Club members have their entrance to the spa included in their stay. 

Also set within a nature reserve — Mata Atlantica, 105 miles south of Rio, to be specific — is Club Med Rio Das Pedras. Occupying a site between the forest and a fine-sand beach, this resort puts the focus firmly on ecology, and offers a good range of land and water sports in the heart of nature. This past winter, La Réserve, a 5-Trident luxury space, opened within the 4-Trident Rio das Pedras, providing upscale guests with privacy and privileged, customized service.

About an hour’s drive from Sao Paulo is Club Med Paradise Lake, where green reigns supreme, from treetop adventures to golfing on an 18-hole course. Lake Represa Taiaçupeba is well suited for paddleboarding and other water sports.

Club Med Itaparica, about an hour from Salvador da Bahia, offers bungalow accommodations — some nestled in a tropical coconut grove and others on stilts on the river. Guests can relax or play volleyball on a secluded beach, learn the ropes on a flying trapeze, play tennis and partake of a variety of other Club Med family amenities.

Perched on a clifftop about halfway between Salvador and Rio, Club Med Trancoso is another resort that should appeal to nature lovers. Tennis and flying trapeze are two of the family activities offered onsite, and golfers can play at a nearby course overlooking the sea.

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