Caribbean all-inclusive resorts have come a long way. Once considered only a mass-market option—complete with bland buffets, spartan rooms and plastic wrist bands—the all-inclusive is all grown up. But as the demand for—and size of—these all-you-can-everything hotels has grown, I’ve noticed a trend in the opposite direction: let’s call them “small-inclusives.” With 150 rooms or fewer, these Caribbean all-inclusive resorts deliver intimacy and seclusion as well as the convenience of inclusive pricing. Go big or go home? Not at these resorts.
Calabash Cove Resort & Spa, Saint Lucia This laidback adults-only resort in Castries is a perfect pick for couples and singles who’d rather relax by the pool with a book than be caught dead taking a reggae dance class. A mere 26 rooms include some with their own plunge pools and outdoor showers, and a quartet of swim-up suites make it easy to roll out of bed and into the water.
The Caves, Jamaica Secreted behind an unassuming wooden gate, this cliff’s-edge sanctuary in Negril with a high style yet low-key vibe has just 12 colorful stone cottages and a single villa. Trust me, dinner in one of two oceanfront caves (evocatively names Moonbeam and Seastar) or at Blackwell Rum Bar (also in a cave) is not to be missed.
Cayo Espanto, Belize The rich come to “rough it” at this 7-acre, 7-villa island that’s seven minutes’ (bingo!) boat ride from Ambergris Caye. Guests arrive at their villa via its private dock, and there are no public areas (meals are served on the villa deck). So, if total seclusion is what you seek, consider it found.
Fowl Cay, Bahamas Afloat in the Exumas (a chain of 365 islands), this all-inc caters to families and friend groups with just six villas. All of them come with fully stocked kitchens and—get this!—your own 15-ft. powerboat (and unlimited gas) for independent exploration of those Bahama blues.
Guana Island, British Virgin Islands A mere five villas and 15 rooms mean that you’ll share this low-key luxe private island’s seven beaches and dozen miles of hiking and walking trails with no more than 32 other guests.
O2 Beach Club & Spa, Barbados There are only a handful of all-inclusive resorts in “Bim.” One of them is this family-owned hotel in St. Lawrence Gap, which has 130 rooms and suites in three “collections” (one reserved exclusively for adults). Reasons to stay here include its six restaurants and seven bars, plus the perk of unlimited access to those at nearby sister hotel Sea Breeze Beach House, as well as the island’s only hammam.
Petit St. Vincent, Grenadines There’s no TV, telephone or in-room WiFi at this 22-cottage private-island resort. But you probably won’t care because you’ll be too busy soaking up the sun on one of five beaches; relaxing in the hilltop spa; or—my preference—solving the world’s problems over a rum punch at Goatie’s beach bar.
S Hotel, Jamaica In Mo’Bay, this adults-only all-inclusive roost has 120 rooms and a smack-in-the-center location on the second city’s “Hip Strip,” Gloucester Avenue. The island-inspired decor (think local hardwood, coral stone walls and vibrant Jamaican art) lends a distinctive sense of place, and the rooftop glass-front that overlooks Doctor’s Cave Beach is an Instagram post just waiting to happen.
Check out some more of Sarah’s Caribbean Dispatch: