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All-Inclusive Resorts by Brand:

Palace resorts are alluring, beachfront retreats located along Mexico's Riviera Maya, in or near the coastal towns of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. In Cancun, Le Blanc Spa Resort is kids-free while Sun Palace and Isla Mujeres Palace are specifically geared toward couples.

Iberostar offers numerous options in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, plus three resorts in Jamaica. They provide relaxing atmospheres in well-preserved natural settings, with spacious pools, lush gardens and sandy beaches. In some locations, several Iberostar hotels are in one complex, and guests have exchange privileges at neighboring properties.

Hard Rock Hotels brings its unique brand of entertainment and hospitality to its all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic. Among the included features is "The Sound of Your Stay," which provides musical amenities like in-room DJ equipment, the loan of a Fender guitar and free downloadable playlists. They welcome guests of all ages, but the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya has a kids-free section called Heaven, with separate pools and beach.

Hyatt recently entered the all-inclusive market with two new, distinct brands: Hyatt Ziva, for vacationers of all ages, and Hyatt Zilara, which provides kids-free environments. Three new Hyatt all-inclusives are scheduled to open in Jamaica and Mexico this November and December.

Palladium was founded more than 40 years ago. Its brands include the Grand Palladium properties in the Caribbean and Mexico, with pools, spa treatments, age-appropriate kids' activities and restaurants from Spanish to Brazilian to Italian. The Royal Suites by Palladium are kids-free retreats with an intimate ambience and personalized butler service complemented by full access to the services, dining venues, bars and activities of the adjacent Grand Palladium resorts.

Occidental is comprised of three distinct brands: Allegro, Grand and Royal Hideaway. Allegro Resorts in Costa Rica and Mexico are moderately priced, with upbeat moods and a broad array of daytime activities followed by lively nighttime entertainment. Occidental Grand Resorts in Aruba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are a notch above. Dining options are more upscale and varied, and some accommodations feature the additional perks of the Royal Club, such as private check-in and an exclusive restaurant and lounge. Occidental also operates the Royal Hideaway Playacar in Mexico's Riviera Maya; it has six restaurants, a dinner theater, spa, six pools and a kids-free atmosphere.

Riu has dozens of all-inclusive options, mostly in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico, plus two options each in Costa Rica and Aruba and one property each in the Bahamas, Panama and St. Martin. Often three or four Riu properties are located in one large complex, where guests enjoy exchange privileges at the sister resorts.

Karisma has all-inclusive resorts along Mexico's Riviera Maya and in Negril, Jamaica. It includes four kids-free El Dorado resorts and four family-friendly Azul properties. Azul Fives is a nice option for large family groups, with one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens. The Generations Resorts feature all-suite accommodations (including two- and three-bedroom options) and butler service.

Three of our Excellence properties in Mexico and the Dominican Republic offer an elegant, kids-free atmosphere. Each has a multitude of restaurants, bars and lounges, plus 24-hour room service. In March 2015, the company will open its newest resort in the Cancun area, Finest Playa Mujeres, which will have the same upscale experience as other Excellence properties but will be geared to guests of all ages: families with young kids, couples, multigenerational groups and friends traveling together. Excellence also offers The Beloved Hotel Playa Mujeres, a 109-room, family-friendly option north of Cancun.

The Sandos hotels in Mexico provide guests with an array of diversions, from water sports and tennis to a daily activities program and live entertainment at night. Its Sandos Caracol Eco Experience Resort in Playa del Carmen emphasizes Mayan culture and the natural surroundings of mangroves and jungle (you might spot a macaw or spider monkey).

Oasis Resorts in Cancun and Tulum offer value-packed vacations. Most Oasis properties are great for families, while one is kids-free. Each hotel offers multiple restaurants, bars and activities.

The all-inclusive properties of Melia Hotels International are found in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Mexico. The company operates three brands, and all properties are rated 4 to 5 stars. The Paradisus hotels feature all-suite accommodations and include Royal Service rooms with butler service and additional amenities. Melia resorts offer a well-rounded tropical escape with a variety of restaurants, bars, water sports, pools and kids' programs. Meanwhile, ME Cancun is a stylish, contemporary spot offering exciting nightlife and a sophisticated ambience.

Club Med is a pioneer in the all-inclusive resort industry. Of the 11 Club Med properties we represent, one -- Club Med Turkoise in the Turks and Caicos -- offers a kids-free setting. Club Med also has the only all-inclusive resort in the U.S., Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, FL.

Barcelo has all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. One is kids-free -- Barcelo Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana at the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic.

Dreams resorts are family-friendly getaways in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Explorer's Club for young guests ages 3 to 12 has weekly beach campouts and sand castle competitions, and the Dominican Republic properties have Core Zone Teens Clubs.

Secrets provides upscale, kids-free experiences in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and on both coasts of Mexico. They offer elegant decor, multiple restaurants and lounges and 24-hour room service.

If you're seeking an intimate, couples-only atmosphere, check out the Sandals resorts in Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica and St. Lucia, or the four Couples resorts, all in Jamaica.

Finally, families might consider a vacation at Beaches in Jamaica or Turks and Caicos, where younger guests can participate in supervised, age-appropriate programs at the Kids Camp -- like Sesame Street-themed activities and treasure hunts for little ones, or glass-bottom boat rides and beach volleyball for tweens. Teens can try out the Xbox Play Lounge or Scratch DJ Academy. 



  • Shopping Tips

    9/17/2010 11:56:37 AM Link |  | Add comment

    Shopping is a popular pursuit for many folks on vacation, so today we will  mention some sought-after, locally made items you might come across while visiting tropical destinations we represent.

    Straw-weaving is a widespread craft in the Bahamas, and visitors can find all sorts of woven items in markets and shops. Bahamian women turned to straw vending in the 1940s after the demise of the local sponge industry. They plaited dried palm fronds into baskets, bags and hats, which quickly became popular souvenirs among Americans who began vacationing in the Bahamas after World War II.

    Jamaica has earned high praise for its Blue Mountain Coffee. The beans are grown on the lower slopes of rugged mountains at the eastern end of the island. Jamaican rum is popular, as are batik fabrics, woven baskets and carvings made from local lignum vitae, a dense wood that's difficult to work with.

    Amber is a big buy in the Dominican Republic, as is the semiprecious blue larimar stone, which is found only in the western region of this Caribbean country. For those staying in the town of Santo Domingo, the elaborate papier-mâché masks worn for festivals and celebrations, such as Carnival, make interesting souvenirs. The Dominican Republic also is a major producer of cigars.

    When you're in Grand Cayman, pick up a Tortuga Rum cake for anyone with a sweet tooth back home. Carlene Hamaty, co-owner of the Tortuga Rum distillery, began baking the cakes in her kitchen in 1987, using an old family recipe that's a closely guarded secret. Caymanite, a stone that comes in earthy colors, is unique to the Cayman Islands.

    Neatly packaged baskets of whole nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves are sold by many vendors on the "Spice Island" of Grenada. Some visitors to Curacao like to take home a bottle of the island's blue-hued Curacao liqueur, made of the sun-dried peels of the laraha, a bitter orange.

    In Bermuda, fans of spicy stuff can pick up a bottle of locally made Outerbridge's sherry pepper sauce, said to be based on a recipe cooked up by British sailors in the 1600s. Items sculpted from local cedar wood also make nice mementos.

    In Mexico, look for handwoven hammocks in Merida, and for the intricate beaded crafts of the Huichol Indians in Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

    In Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, vendors sell huipiles, Mayan-style embroidered garments. Silver is a good buy in Acapulco, due to the city's proximity to silver-mining towns. A true sterling silver item should have ".925" stamped on its back or bottom.

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