11 all-inclusive beach resorts you can book with points
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new resort options. It was last published on Sept. 20, 2019.
When it comes to family vacations, the beach is best. Staying at a high-end hotel in a city is great, but I find that it’s usually just a place to rest between explorations. When I travel with two young kids, a beach vacation with a pool, kids activity center and food right at hand is just about perfect.
The main problem with many Caribbean and Mexican resorts is that the cost of the food can really add up. I cringe when I see my bill at the end of the trip, knowing that the kids probably didn’t eat half of what we purchased. Feeding a family of four (including drinks for the adults) is no joking matter. My “free” vacation using points and miles does not end up anywhere close to free.
This makes using points for an all-inclusive property a good idea. (Some properties charge more after the first two adults, but the cost is minimal when you consider that you could have a $0 bill at the end of your vacation.)
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In the thick of winter many of you might be itching to get out of the cold. Here are 11 properties in the sunny Caribbean and Mexico where your family can use your hotel points at an all-inclusive resort.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
The Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall is just 15 minutes from the Montego Bay airport (MBJ). The resort includes two separate pool areas — one for relaxation and one with activities, including a swim-up bar. You can participate in anything from dance lessons on the pool deck to water ping-pong. There are many beach activities as well, all included, such as kayaking, boogie-boarding and snorkeling. There is a sister resort nearby, the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, which is an adults-only resort.
There are eight choices for dining, including a buffet, Italian restaurant, Asian restaurant, steakhouse, beach shack and beach grill, pub, deli and beachfront grill. That’s on top of four different bars for a variety of drinks and beach cocktails.
The kids club is definitely a highlight, with a game room, playground and many other activities throughout the day. You can drop off your kids ages 4 to 12 throughout the day for as long as you want while you visit the spa or fitness center or just relax on the beach.
This property costs just 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy. Any extra adult or child will cost 12,500 points per night, although kids two and under stay for free. During peak dates, this hotel can easily cost well over $500 a night (for two adults), so this redemption can get you more than 2 cents per point. (TPG currently values World of Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each.) You can earn World of Hyatt points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card or transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your Hyatt account at a 1:1 ratio from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, also in Montego Bay, offers not only a private beach and multiple pools but also an awesome waterpark. The Sugar Mill Falls Water Park is included for all guests. It features a 280-foot slide and a lazy river. This is a huge perk. The Hilton Rose Hall is the only all-inclusive resort in Jamaica with a waterpark where you can use your hotel points. This resort also offers tennis (and tennis lessons), a kids club, a teen zone and nightly entertainment.
There are lots of dining options, from casual to fine dining. The buffet also offers snacks until 2 a.m. There are bars, a coffee shop and even a swim-up bar with food and drinks. Unfortunately, room service is not part of the all-inclusive experience. I personally like ordering room service while the kids are getting ready for the day and I wouldn’t want to pay for it when I can get the same food for free elsewhere on the property.
A free night at this property ranges between 45,000 to 70,000 Hilton Honors points for a standard room. Many reports also show that when staying on points reservations, guests were not charged any additional fee for kids in the room. This could be a huge savings when staying as a family. Technically though, the fees include: $75 for ages 6-14 per night; $99 for ages 15+ per night. Also, if you have Silver, Gold or Diamond Hilton status, you’ll receive your fifth night free when redeeming points. Having status with Hilton is easy since any of its cobranded credit cards — such as the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and Hilton Honors American Express Card — will give you automatic elite status.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
The Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay is the third all-inclusive property in Montego Bay where you can use your hotel points. Although you might not equate a Holiday Inn property with a nice resort, this hotel receives great reviews and many travelers with IHG Platinum status have even reported being upgraded to a one-bedroom suite. The resort went through a facelift (and a name change) a few years ago. There are kids activities and a spa for the adults. This is also one of the few hotels on this list with a casino.
This resort will cost you 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points a night for double occupancy. It is one of the few properties where kids 12 and under stay for free — no extra points or cash required — so you can really maximize your IHG Rewards Club points from cards such as the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights. If you don’t have enough IHG Rewards Club points, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your IHG account or wait for a really good sale on points.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana opened recently and although many guests love the resort, the property might not have been fully ready on opening day. Fortunately, most of the kinks have been worked out, although some room types are still not available. Ultimately, the resort is beautiful and some guests even recommend it over the Hyatt Ziva Cancun.
This is a great addition not only to the Hyatt brand, but also a great place to stay points in Punta Cana. (For an adults-only vacation, the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana is right next door.)
This resort should be on your family’s radar. The hotel is only 10 minutes away from the airport (PUJ) and boasts multiple pools, a lazy river and three water slides. There are a total of 12 restaurants and bars, a swim-up bar, a kids club and live entertainment.
A standard room, which you can reserve with points, is over 600 square feet — much bigger than your typical hotel room. These rooms have either a king bed or two queens, both with a sleeper sofa. Upgraded rooms include swim-up suites and one-bedroom master suites.
For those looking to use points, this property costs 25,000 World of Hyatt points for the first two guests, plus an extra 12,500 points per extra guest in the room. As at all other Hyatt Ziva properties, children 2 and under are free.
La Romana, Dominican Republic
The Hilton La Romana, previously known as the Dreams La Romana, just underwent a massive renovation. However, it seems that there are still some aspects of the resort that are not up and running yet, such as the waterpark. (Note: If you are looking for an adult-only vacation, the Hilton La Romana Adults Only is next door.)
This property is just 20 minutes away from La Romana Airport (LRM) and 45 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. The property is on Bayahibe Beach, with calm, crystal-clear waters. The property features five restaurants on-site (with another five restaurants on the adults-only portion of the property), a kids club for ages 3 to 12, teen club for ages 13 to 17 and eventually a new waterpark with slides and a lazy river.
This property costs between 42,000 and 78,000 points a night for double occupancy. Unlike other Hilton all-inclusive properties, only kids 2 and under stay for free; kids ages 3–12 will be charged an additional $95 per night per child. Children 13 and older are considered an adult and are charged an extra $99 per night.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
The Emotions All Inclusive Puerto Plata is part of the Ascend Hotel Collection within the Choice Hotels chain. These are typically nicer boutique properties, although this hotel is by no means the fanciest all-inclusive on the list. Just 15 minutes away from Puerto Plata International Airport (POP) this hotel is very convenient if you are able to find flights into this smaller airport.
This property used to charge only 8,000 Choice Privileges points a night (when TPG’s JT and Katie Genter stayed here for a month), but it has shot up to 30,000 Choice Privileges points a night. Based on TPG’s valuation, this is worth about $180 a night, but you can typically find paid rates much less expensive. Rooms on points are also capped at a maximum of four guests in the room.
The Hyatt Ziva Cancun is probably the nicest all-inclusive property at which you can use your points and its suites — like the Pyramid Suite category — are especially nice for families that need more space.
This property is at one end of the Hotel Zone of Punta Cancun, with beach on both sides. There really is no reason to leave the hotel, but the location allows you to walk easily to many restaurants and shops nearby.
The resort features three infinity pools, two separate beach areas and complimentary pool cabanas. There are lots of daily activities on the pool deck as well as kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkeling gear at the beach. There is food and drink everywhere, with 17 restaurants, lounges and bars. There is truly something for everyone, from sit-down fine dining to an on-the-go food truck. I’ve been to this property three times with my family and the food offerings are just right.
Your children will absolutely love the kids club area, with games, arts and crafts, video games, movies and disco parties. There is also an amazing pool area with a few different play structures, slides and waterfalls. Although the kids club is for children between the ages of 4 to 12, there is scheduled family time when you can take your younger children to enjoy the activities and the pool area.
Like the Hyatt Ziva Montego Bay and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, this hotel costs just 25,000 World of Hyatt points a night for double occupancy. Kids 2 and under stay for free and any extra adult or child will cost 12,500 points a night. This property will typically get you a minimum of 2 cents per point on your redemption.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta is on the south side in Conchas Chinas, the quieter side of Puerto Vallarta. This means you will not see as many vendors and outside tourists on the beach and you are only a short taxi ride into Old Town. The hotel includes seven (yes seven!) pools — five infinity pools and two kid-friendly options. There is a pool for everyone’s taste.
What is great about this property is that every single room has an ocean view. Some rooms even have hot tubs on the balconies and if your kids are old enough, you can ask about staying in one of the swim-up rooms where you can walk right outside and into the pool. As with all Hyatt all-inclusive properties, your minifridge is stocked with drinks and snacks — again all complimentary. Room service will even replenish your fridge every day. Room service is also available for no additional fee throughout the day.
Families can enjoy the kids club, an oceanfront fitness center, the spa and many food and beverage options. There are food and beverage carts around the property to ensure you are never hungry, possibly the best feature of this hotel.
This property only requires 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy, 5,000 points less than the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, Hyatt Ziva Montego Bay or Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana. This is definitely a steal; this all-inclusive property can easily be $600 a night during peak times. Kids 2 and under stay for free, but additional guests will cost another 10,000 points per night.
Los Cabos, Mexico
The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos is located in San Jose Del Cabo, which means you are closer to the airport but farther away from nightlife. The property is located right on the beach in Cabo, which makes it great for building sandcastles, but there can be a strong riptide. Swimming in the ocean is typically not recommended, but there is a beautiful infinity pool.
The kids club is excellent, with activities inside the club and at the pool right outside. The kids club pool includes a mini-waterpark with five slides. There is also a playground with a jungle gym and motorized minicars. Having a playground at a resort is definitely special.
When using points, you can book either a Master King or Master Double, large 584-square-foot rooms with pull-out couches so there is plenty of space for everyone to sleep in comfort. These rooms also have an outside balcony that is perfect for adults while the kids are sleeping.
Like the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, this property only requires 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy. Kids under 3 stay for free, but any additional child or adult in the room will cost 10,000 points per night. Rates at this property seem to be a little less than some of the other Hyatt all-inclusive properties, but it is still an excellent use of your points.
The Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort on the Bay of Banderas on the west coast of Mexico is only about 10 minutes from the airport. Although this is a smaller resort, there are still three pools (one adults-only) and a beautiful beach.
This hotel has six restaurants, two snack bars and four bars, although many of the restaurants require advance reservations and have timed dining. They are also not open every day of the week. There are always a few restaurants available, but your options will not be as plentiful as at someplace like the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.
The kids club (ages 4 to 12 years old) includes minigolf, a wading pool, a large movie and game room and many other daily activities. Typical hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but on select weekends there is a pajama party for the kids where they roast marshmallows. The hours are definitely shorter than some other resort kids clubs and meals are not served (just snacks in case kids get hungry). From the kids club you can hire babysitters for kids as young as 4 months old at $10/hour per child, which is extremely reasonable for babysitting services at a resort. During peak Christmas vacation dates, the fees increase.
When you use your points at this property, you are charged anywhere between 55,000 and 70,000 Hilton Honors points for double occupancy. Some of the features of this hotel definitely do not appear to be as expansive as the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, but kids 5 and under stay for free, which is huge. Children between ages 6 and 12 are charged $65/child per night; kids 13+ are charged as an adult at $120/child per night.
Los Cabos, Mexico
The Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos is one of the closest beach resorts to the airport, but unfortunately, the beach is not swimmable. This seems to be a hit-or-miss property, although there are two pools (one adult-only) and a gym.
This property has only two restaurants on-site. On the plus side, there are six bars. The other main difference is that children must be at least 5 years old to attend the kids club, which is at least a year or two older than many of the other all-inclusive properties.
This property costs 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night. (It was previously only 20,000 points a night). This is 10,000 points less a night than the Holiday Inn Montego Bay, but you may just “get what you pay for.”
Honorable mention all-inclusive resorts
Although there are a few other chain all-inclusive properties, they either do not work well for families or do not allow you to use your hotel points.
For example, AMResorts just partnered with the Choice Privileges rewards program. These resorts include many family-friendly properties throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, including Dreams Resorts & Spas, Now Resorts & Spas, Reflect Resorts & Spas and Sunscape Resorts & Spas.
There are now about 20 family-friendly resorts available on points (the rest are either adults-only or won’t be available to book on points until January 2023). Many of these 20 are high-end properties which is great, but when using points, you are capped at three guests per room, including kids.
You can always try booking a room with your points and calling the hotel directly to see if you can upgrade to a different room and pay extra for any additional guests, but your results may vary. (Just make sure you can cancel if need be.) Alternatively, you can book two rooms with your points — at twice the cost.
Rates are between 25,000 to 55,000 points per night depending on the property. If you are low on points, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points or open the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card. You can also buy points directly through Choice during a bonus promotion or at an even lower rate through the U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways (which typically run in the spring every year).
At the Holiday Inn Resort Ixtapa on Mexico’s Pacific coast you are capped at just two guests in the room when using your points. Although there are lots of kid and adult activities at the resort, when you go to redeem your points, the resort only includes a room for double occupancy and states, “Bed type and smoking preference cannot be guaranteed as it will be allocated upon arrival based on availability.”
You can always book a room (as long as it is refundable) and call the hotel in advance to see if they can give you a room that will fit your family, but the system is not automatically set up to allow a family to stay on points easily. Additionally, even their rooms with two beds have a capacity of three guests.
Earlier this summer, Wyndham took away the option to use your points at their eight all-inclusive properties (only six are kid-friendly). You can still book a paid stay but if you are looking for a free vacation, this will not be an option. Another issue with the Viva Wyndham properties is that almost all of them require a three- or four-night minimum stay. (Only the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach allows you to make a one-night reservation.)
If you have your heart set on one of these properties, you can always use your flexible points with programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou® Rewards, Capital One or Barclaycard Arrival. Since these particular properties do not charge high nightly rates, using flexible points might prove to be a pretty good value.
With so many all-inclusive options, it’s easy to redeem your points for a truly free stay. If you are going to go the all-inclusive route, I suggest starting to increase your point balance now with Hyatt, IHG, Hilton or Choice. If I had to pick my favorite, I’d pick the Hyatt Ziva properties. The brand has done an amazing job of providing families with many activities and dining options. Its kids clubs are a huge highlight. It has also priced its properties very competitively by only requiring 20,000 to 25,000 points per night for double occupancy (though once you add a couple of kids aged 3+ to the reservation, you are basically looking at the same award price for two rooms as all sharing one).
Which all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or Mexico is your family’s favorite?
Featured photo by Dean McQuade/Unsplash.
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