The Tropical All-Inclusive That’s Tailor-Made for You
To borrow from an old friend, winter is coming. And as it edges ever closer, tropical resorts start to look better and better. But tempting though they may be, here’s what they’re not: one-size-fits-all. What a bachelorette party wants isn’t necessarily what a couple wants—and is most decidedly not what a family wants.
On the other hand, one hospitality group is making a point to meet every conceivable need, with new features for families, fiesta-goers, and all manner of traveler in between. So even if the RIU brand of Hotels & Resorts isn’t the most familiar to you yet, it will be soon. With upgraded outposts that span the heart of the Caribbean—from Mexico to Jamaica to the Dominican Republic—RIU Hotels & Resorts are definitely ones to watch. Especially because they're all-inclusive, 24/7, simplifying your getaway by some incalculable order of magnitude.
Bonus: Apple Vacations—which, having celebrated the big 5-0 this year, has achieved true standout status—will throw in all kinds of extras to sweeten the deal, from hefty discounts to free airport transfers. Read on for seven of our favorite places to enjoy all of the above.
Apologize in advance for the #FOMO you’re about to trigger in fellow parents who follow you on social, because RIU’s family travel game is strong. The brand’s all-inclusive, kid-friendly properties have all the important things in common—awesome pools, excellent food options, and loads of activities at kids’ clubs and beyond—but a few of the hotels are especially worth calling out.
The freshly overhauled Riu Ocho Rios comes with ample family-first accommodations (check out the two-bedroom suites) and Jamaica’s first Splash Water World, where you’ll find everything from the Aquaracer (a four-lane competitive slide installation) to the Aquashute (your kids will be blasted directly into the pool) to the Kamikaze (for those in your family who like to be dropped from major heights). Not that the aquatic fun is the sole province of the kids, of course: With their pools just far enough away from the tranquil grownup ones, your own poolside me-time will be undisturbed. (For extra insurance, you can always hit the spa.) And when you head off campus together, everyone will be duly dazzled: After all, you’re on the home turf of the famed Dunn's River Falls, the Green Grotto Caves and the Cranbrook Flower Forest.
Water babies (and mamas and daddies) will also want to consider Riu Palace Punta Cana, one of the most popular properties in the portfolio. Sprawled along the golden sands of Arena Gorda beach, this 676-room outpost has pools to spare—five to be exact—one especially kid-friendly, another adults-only and all beloved. Then there’s the local Splash Water World (see above) and gorgeous stretch of the Caribbean, where you can sail, snorkel, kayak and of course, swim. But if you’re traveling with teens, you may want to think about another property in Riu’s Punta Cana complex: Riu Bambu, where a teen-specific space (so not a kids’ club—please) will have your middle and high schoolers engaging with peers IRL, instead of just on Insta. Think Foosball tables, music-fueled gatherings, and yes, a video gaming center.
For friends on a fiesta mission
Whatever form they take, and whatever name you give them—bachelorette weekends, hen parties, milestone trips or plain old girlfriends’ getaways—you generally want a few things: sun, spa and a little somethin’ to swill. All in a festive setting, naturally. And while RIU excels at all of the above, it’s that last bit—the festive setting—where the brand is making news, with recently debuted and thoughtfully curated party programming that you can start to picture if you search up #RiuParty.
But to get a real sense, you’ve got to explore in person. Riu Tequila, in hopping Playa del Carmen, the heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, was one of the first properties to launch #RiuParty. Nighttime gatherings focus on themes (White or Neon) and showcase a range of music from the best local DJs and international acts. A chic lobby bar, photogenic swim-up bar, breezy beach bar and boogie-down club round out the party-perfect offerings.
The adults-only Riu Republica in Punta Cana has a similar fun-in-the-sun #vacationmode vibe with 11 bars and restaurants, eight pools, a beautiful beach, and, yeah, that whole no kids deal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the #RiuParty programming has launched here as well; guests can double their fun with free access and transportation to the pool parties in the RIU Punta Cana complex. Detox to retox with a sweat session in the expansive gym and a heavenly treatment at the spa—or just kick back on an oversize lounger under the shade of a palapa.
Ignore pretty much everything you’ve read until now (well, almost everything) if you’re plotting a tropical tryst: Your ingredient list is different from everyone else’s. You need the most romantic possible setting, rooms you may never want to leave, and fellow travelers who are at least of voting age.
Celebrated as one of RIU’s most honeymoon-worthy properties (but just as well suited to proposals, babymoons, anniversaries and flings), the 372-room Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun was the brand’s first foray into adults-only resorts in Mexico. Bordered by the Caribbean and a mangrove-edged lagoon, the resort harbors excellent cuisine, a duo of dreamy infinity pools, a sexy Art Deco bar, and more “wish you were here” #kiddingnotkidding photo ops than you’ll have time to post.
Then there’s Jamaica, where one love is as much a part of the national identity as swaying palms, Jerk chicken and Blue Mountain coffee. And one of the best places to retreat with your love is the adults-only Riu Reggae in Montego Bay. Most of the sleek and chic rooms have outdoor space, and all are stocked with complimentary minibars and enjoy 24-hour room service, so no one would blame you if you holed up for the entirety of your stay. But bear in mind that romance beckons beyond your walls, too: There are three infinity pools, a spectacular spa and that famed Jamaica beach (for seaside dining a deux, have at least one meal at Kulinarium). Just don't be surprised if you come back engaged, married (spontaneous elopements are a thing here) or hey, expecting an addition to your life that'll have you considering family travel the next time you book.