As a Jamaican travel blogger, I often get asked about hotel recommendations by friends, readers and associates. However, I’m frequently stumped for answers because everyone’s needs are different. Choosing the right all-inclusive hotel in Jamaica depends on whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, as a couple or even as a family with young children. Also, the answer depends on which end of the country you’d like to stay, your budget and what are your tastes. Are you going for the activities, the views or for a special occasion like an anniversary or honeymoon? Well, I decided to put together a list of the best all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica that should cater to all tastes.
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What Does All-Inclusive Mean?
The French Club Med ski resort in Europe is credited with creating the all-inclusive hotel concept in the early 1950s. Frenchman’s Cove Resort in Portland was the first hotel to take on the all-inclusive hotel model in Jamaica, attracting the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles, Ian Fleming and Errol Flynn. Local pioneer hotelier John Issa took that model to the next level in 1978 with Couples Tower Isle. It opened as the first completely all-inclusive resort in the world; all-inclusive meaning all meals, all drinks, all sports, and even some excursions to neighbouring attractions on Jamaica’s north coast were included in a single upfront fee.
In Jamaica, an all-inclusive hotel means: luxurious lodging, three meals a day or unlimited all-you-can-eat meals, unlimited non-alcoholic and most alcoholic beverages, sports, non-motorized watersports and other recreational activities. Airport transfers are usually available. There are often specialty restaurants, cafes, daytime activities, a gymnasium, a nightclub, casino and nighttime entertainment like a concert or disco included in your hotel package. You pay one upfront price per night’s stay and can enjoy the resort without carrying around a purse or wallet. Many all-inclusive resorts don’t allow the staff to accept tips. Spa services, massages, souvenirs at the gift shop, motorized sports, room service and top shelf liquor are typically NOT included and attract additional fees.
All-inclusive hotels are mostly located on the coast in warmer regions of the world, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean. Some are designed for specific vacation interests such as adults only or family-oriented. Also, all-inclusive hotels are often marketed as destination wedding and honeymoon spots. A one week all-inclusive hotel trip to Jamaica will cost anywhere from US$1,200 to $4300 in 2022, while a short weekend stay for locals ranges from US$230 to $550 per night. These prices are for double occupancy, which is the standard listing for rooms at all-inclusive Jamaican hotels.
The all-inclusive hotel model is often criticized as being wasteful, encouraging over-indulgence and can end up not always being worth the money. That’s why it’s important to do your own research and read the fine print. Also, all-inclusive hotels are often large hotel chains owned by overseas corporations which repatriate their profits and do little to benefit local economy and sustainable development. For me, all-inclusive hotels are worth the occasional splurge but they aren’t my usual travel modus operandi. However, I am blessed to live in a nation which boasts some of the world’s best all-inclusive hotels.
1. Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa 📍 Montego Bay
I spent my 26th birthday weekend at this delightful 400-acre resort last year and had a great time. The property lies on a former sugar plantation and preserves its old colonial charm. I loved the availability of eleven restaurants, bars and cafés which meant food and drinks were available even up until the wee hours of the morning. Hilton Hotel boasts a small waterpark, waterslide and non-motorized water activities like tubing, paddle boarding and kayaking. The staff was warm and friendly, and I genuinely felt at home here. They have a timetable of activities which changes daily to keep one entertained for hours on end. This includes water aerobics, poolside games, beach volleyball, tennis and a nighttime show. Also, children under 2 stay for free, and golfing is available at the nearby Rose Hall Golf Course.
2. Iberostar Rose Hall 📍 Montego Bay
The Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites is a five-star all-inclusive hotel that prides itself on luxury as much as safe and responsible tourism. The property is home to an expansive white sand beach with free non-motorized watersports (snorkeling and kayaking), two outdoor pools, pool tables, table tennis and a lazy river for tubing. Scuba diving, catamaran cruises and parasailing are available at a cost, as well as daytime excursions to popular tourist attractions in and around Montego Bay. Golf at the nearby Rose Hall golf course is available. Enjoy a delicious stay at the Iberostar Resort which boasts 13 options for dining, including buffet style and à la carte restaurants as well as a poolside bar and chic café.
3. Sandals South Coast 📍 White House
Yes, you don’t have to look outside of Jamaica for overwater bungalows. The recently renovated adults-only Sandals South Coast Resort is locally owned and set on a 2-mile expanse of pristine white sand. This resort caters to thalassophiles with their overwater bungalows, Rondoval Swim-Up Suites, beachfront Dutch Village, South Seas Rondoval Village with rooms wrapped around the longest pool in the Western Hemisphere and even an overwater chapel to host the dreamiest weddings ever. Also, enjoy a world-class gastronomical experience at their nine restaurants. You’ll never want to leave this luxury.
4. Excellence Oyster Bay 📍 Falmouth
Excellence Oyster Bay is an adults-only resort located on a private peninsula in Falmouth, thirty minutes drive from the heart of Montego Bay. This romantic resort is perfect for weddings and honeymoons, set on a two mile long pristine white sand beach and surrounded by glistening turquoise waters. Get pampered at the Millé Spa, enjoy evening cocktails by their five swimming pools and enjoy sports such as archery, table tennis, volleyball, beach football (soccer), bocce and snorkeling, all included in their hotel packages. Enjoy local cuisine and international gourmet experiences at their ten restaurants.
5. Couples Tower Isle 📍 St. Mary
The name gives it away. Couples Tower Isle is an adults-only resort catering to couples. This flagship Couples Resort features six restaurants, five bars, four swimming pools, the Oasis Spa and a private clothing-optional island. Possibly the most inclusive of all Jamaican all-inclusive hotels, Couples Tower Isle includes unlimited golf, tennis, catamaran cruise and even scuba dining in their hotel packages. Enjoy a dreamy Caribbean bae-cation at this resort.
6. Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa 📍 Lucea
A bit more affordable than other hotels on this list, the Grand Palladium and Lady Hamilton Resorts are a delightful work of art. The hotel is an Instagrammer’s dream with their beach swings, hammocks, trendy nest chairs and a signature humongous red chair to make your postcards memorable. The family-friendly Grand Palladium goes the extra mile in ensuring that guests are treated to local cuisine! You can get freshly-picked tropical fruits and jelly coconuts from trees on the resorts. Just ask one of the caretakers to assist you or pick up fruit from their busy handcart. The Grand Palladium Hotel also boasts the largest swimming pool on the island.
7. Sunset at The Palms 📍 Negril
As the only boutique hotel on this list, Sunset at the Palms is an adults-only resort which combines serenity and luxury into the perfect package. The resort is nestled in lush tropical beauty on 10 acres with the pristine Negril 7 Mile Beach a stone’s throw away. Activities include mixology classes, Jamaican dance lessons, nature walks and non-motorized watersports including snorkeling, kayaking, and wind surfing. Also, this hotel boasts numerous accolades such as Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice Best of the Best Award for 2021 and was the first hotel in the world to receive certification for Environmentally Sustainable Tourism by the U.K.’s Green Globe.
8. Moon Palace Jamaica 📍 Ocho Rios
Moon Palace Jamaica prides itself as a family-friendly awe-inclusive luxury resort replete with Jamaican charm. Moon Palace offers non-motorized sports including the Flow Rider, where one can learn how to surf on a bodyboard then graduate to a standup board as confidence builds. Children will enjoy the Playroom, while adults will love Club Noir, the Wired Lounge and unwinding at the Awe Spa.
9. Royalton Negril 📍 Negril
Royalton Negril is one of three Royalton locations on the island. Enjoy a family-oriented vacation or ditch the kids at their adults-only section. At Royalton Negril, you’ll be greeted with a chilled cocktail and warm reception. Fine dining is available at seven reservations-free restaurants, and non-motorized watersports, daily entertainment and nightly shows are wrapped up in one upfront hotel package.
10. Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall 📍 Montego Bay
This expansive adults-only resort features 344 guestrooms and suites, including swim-up rooms and butler suites. Splash in the luxurious infinity pool and lagoon-style pools at Hyatt Zilara, and enjoy unlimited world-class dining at a whopping sixteen restaurants, bars and lounges. Golfers will delight at the White Witch Golf Course or the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course which are accessible by a quick drive from Hyatt Zilara.
I hope you enjoyed this list. Look out for more lists of places to stay in Jamaica (boutique hotels, budget stays, villas and nature retreats) in coming weeks. Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss them! Share, pin and bookmark this list to help you plan your Jamaican vacation, and make sure to pick up my Jamaica guide on Amazon to help you explore the best of the island.
Take care! ‘Til next time.
Disclosures: Nothing to disclose. At the time of publishing I’ve only visited 3/10 resorts listed above. The other 7 places came highly recommended by friends and independent travel websites.