6 amazing all-inclusive resorts to experience in Barbados

The all-inclusive resort is a vacation style I’ve slowly grown to love. When I first experienced an all-inclusive resort, I was, to be honest, a little intimidated by the way the resort was hermetically sealed. You were essentially cut off from authentic experiences of the island you visited. Of course that meant everything you could possibly need is available within the resort’s gates, such as water sports, tropical flower gardens, massages and all the seafood you can eat. However, you don’t have much of a sense of place.

What about the local culture? Barbados has so much of it: Bridgetown, the capital, and its colorful colonial buildings and long and complex history; the small roadside food shacks that serve fantastically fresh fish; pleasant streets, beautiful gardens and user-friendly infrastructure. I’ve come around and now recognize that sometimes what you need most for your well-being is to curl up on a sunbed and read a book or spend time connecting with a spouse, children and grandchildren.

Barbados has some amazing all-inclusive resorts. Many are for adults only (16 years and over). But there are also great resorts if you plan to spend time with the extended family. On the island, many of the all-inclusive stays are located along the west coast beaches, while a few can be found along the windier, undulating south coast. I still venture out of paradise no matter which one I live in. Barbados is a safe country with warm and welcoming locals, and here I have found that I can have everything. Pink sand beaches, the stress-free benefits of an all-inclusive hotel and easily accessible excursions beyond the gates.

These are my six favorite all-inclusive resorts in Barbados.

The Crane Resort and Pool

Photo credit: The Crane

1. The Crane Resort

St. Philip

The Crane Resort, on the pristine, unspoilt south coast is perched on a cliff overlooking the famous Crane Beach, a beautiful strip of crushed pink coral sand. The resort’s location is exceptional. You enjoy the view of the dramatic limestone cliffs while being cooled by the sea breeze. It is so calm; you hear nothing but the sound of your breathing. The Crane Resort opened in 1887 to serve people coming for health reasons. The island is the first Caribbean landfall with warm, restorative winds from Africa.

The property has beautiful gardens with fragrant frangipani and ginger lilies. The resort’s amenities include a cliff-top pool complex, day spa, fitness center, kids’ club, and seven restaurants and beverage options. The Crane’s history-loving owner has developed the on-site Crane Museum, which features archival photos, postcards and rare historical images he and his team have unearthed that tell the hotel’s history since Victorian times.

Sandals Royal Barbados

Sandals Royal Barbados

Image credit: Sandals Resorts

2. Sandals Royal Barbados

St. Lawrence Gap

This couples-only resort is one of the newest in this renowned all-inclusive group’s portfolio. It is located at Maxwell Beach, near what the islanders call the St. Lawrence Gap (also known as the Gap), a happening strip on the south coast. The resort offers a high level of service and all-inclusive experiences. It has 338 non-entry-level guest accommodations – all of which are suites. Standout features are the large glass-fronted infinity pool, a rooftop pool and a wellness aspect to the resort, with several health-focused dining options and some wellness suites with aromatherapy components. Bowling at the resort’s four-lane bowling alley (cutely called Lover’s Lane) is a fun thing to do before dinner.

The food and beverage offerings are good and varied: the resort has a craft beer bar, an excellent donut and coffee shop, an American tavern, an Asian fusion restaurant, a New York-style deli that also has fresh smoothies, and a rustic farm-to table dining area. There are no restrictions and limitations, unlike some all-inclusive resorts, which may give you a voucher for their exclusive restaurant so you can eat there once during your stay. But here you can have dinner at any restaurant or the same one every night. With so many choices (and the option to eat at the sister property (see the other Sandals entry in this story), you may have a hard time deciding. I like to eat at the resort. Go to one restaurant for an appetizer, another for a main course, followed by dessert.The facility is a good option for those with mobility issues: it offers accessible rooms and it is flat.

There are a few bridges to cross, but they are in restricted areas. It’s an easy elevator ride to the rooftop pool. I like the look of the resort – modern and elegant with rooms done in soft, muted colors. You can also choose butler service. A designated butler is there for you from the moment you arrive and complete your suite check-in. These staff will make dinner reservations and arrange island excursions. I have seen people relaxing by the pool who have forgotten their books and called their butler on a special cell phone to bring their belongings to them. Some people like this service to the next level. I find it unnecessary.

Sandals Resort Barbados

Sandals Resort Barbados

Image credit: Sandals Resorts

3. Sandals

St. Lawrence Gap

This Sandals resort is also near the Gap of Dover Beach, a prime location where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean (it’s also close to the airport). It is only a couple of years older than its neighboring and sister property Sandals Royal. I like that there are full exchange privileges between the two. In other words, you can put your head in one resort and hang on to both Sandals. This is a great value. Guests move seamlessly back and forth between the two resorts on easily navigable paths.

This resort has 280 rooms and suites with balconies or terraces, including Crystal Lagoon Swim-Up Suites, which are particularly gorgeous. It’s full of amenities I like, including 11 pools (and because it’s an adults-only resort, the pools are quiet without too much splash). There are 11 different restaurants (in addition to the ones at Sandals Royal), including a great Indian restaurant, the Bombay Club, and I found the spa services to be great. The property is set around a gorgeous beach, and there’s free water sports equipment and activities – from snorkel gear to sailboats, along with tennis courts and an expansive fitness center.

4. Sugar Bay


Sugar Bay is a great place to come with the family. It is child-friendly with a great atmosphere and cheerful, pastel-coloured architecture. It is just a few steps from a calm sea lagoon. The children will also enjoy the monkeys that occasionally visit the resort. You can treat the little ones to a snow cone from a vendor on the beach. I particularly like the on-site restaurant, Reefs, which offers a daily all-inclusive buffet with lots of fresh island fruit, local dishes and fish (there are also the requisite casual restaurant offerings of food that kids tend to enjoy).

At sunsets you can enjoy a cocktail that suits your mood or color choice: A blue cocktail that matches the sea, a pink one that matches the lovely sunsets that turn the sky into an abstract of pink and purple, or an espresso martini that matches the dark sky. The rooms are spacious and face the sea. The resort is also within walking distance of Bridgetown’s South Coast Boardwalk, historic attractions and nightlife. Technicians at the on-site Karma Spa provide wonderful deep tissue massages, which you can have in the spa or on the beach, alone or as a couple. Children and teenagers will enjoy the activity-filled clubs designed for them. There is even a kindergarten (kindergarten) for infants.

Soco Resort suite, Barbados

Soco Resort suite, Barbados

Image credit: BTI

5. Soco Hotel

Christ Church

With just 24 rooms, The Soco Hotel is more intimate than many all-inclusive resorts, but it still gives you the stress-free, convenient experience you expect from vacation style. As the name indicates, it is located on the island’s south coast. The facility is incredibly picturesque with a cheerful color palette. Highlights here for me include the rooms, each of which has a private balcony with sea views.

The staff are welcoming, accommodating and do everything they can to make your stay exceptional. The resort is close to Bridgetown and the island’s nightlife and restaurants, which makes it attractive to people like me who need to get off campus to get an authentic taste of the island (the resort only has one restaurant). It’s also a good resort for couples, but it should be noted that it doesn’t offer on-site water sports or a gym.

Crystal Cove Resort and Beach

Crystal Cove Resort and Beach

Image credit: BTI

6. Crystal Cove

St. James

I have stayed at this all inclusive hotel located on the west coast a couple of times and appreciate many things about it. It feels sophisticated yet family friendly. Crystal Cove Cave Bar, a truly unique swim-up bar in a rock formation next to a waterfall, is a highlight of the resort. So is the location, on a cliff on the west coast.

It’s an upscale resort and the look reflects that – the style is airy, modern and makes a change from the overall colonial style of many all-inclusive resorts. The color palette is as gentle as a tropical garden. It is also close to many of the West Coast’s attractions and outlets. On the property there are two restaurants and three bars, all wonderful places to catch a sunset. The view of the sunset is spectacular. It has three large pools, a 24-hour fitness center, a spa and a great kids’ club.

For more information on traveling to Barbados, check out these articles:

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