Top 8 Vacation Resorts

There’s nothing better during a Canadian winter than to head somewhere warm and take a week (or two) to relax, enjoy the sun, and sip a cool drink. Here are the 8 best all-inclusive resorts.

Lighthouse Bay Resort, Barbuda

Situated amidst 27 uninterrupted kilometres of pink sand beach on its own private island, Lighthouse Bay’s nine spectacular, spacious suites, reachable only by boat-or helicopter-are truly a place apart. $3,700 per night gets you lovely accommodations in the grand suite, which includes 950 square feet of space, an outdoor shower and a private hot tub. The cherry on top? The pampered, personalized service, including made-to-order gourmet meals that integrate seafood caught just offshore, plus copious amounts of beach chairs and cabanas and miles to spread out-perfect for napping away a big lunch on the beach.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia

Known as the Galapagos of Australia, Kangaroo Island teems with life, from seals and mountain lions to Great White Sharks and literally thousands of wallabies and kangaroos. Built upon a cliff with stunning views of the Southern Ocean-looking out on a rolling, blue expanse all the way to Antarctica-Southern Ocean Lodge offers sumptuous luxury (starting at about $1,000 per person, per night, twin share). Explore the island, toast sunset surrounded by marsupials, then settle in for a gourmet meal and all you can drink from the giant, self-serve bar.

Westin Conchal, Costa Rica

Set on the rugged, Central American Pacific coastline and surrounded by lush rainforest, the luxe Westin offers giant suites, surfing, and a diverse assortment of eco-adventures. Zipline, hike or bike in one of the neighbouring national parks, take an ATV ride through the jungle, then come back and enjoy everything provided on the Westin’s vast 2,400-acre property, including a giant lagoon pool, tennis courts, four kilometres of beach and a championship golf course.

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

An oasis of lush green palm trees, blue pools, flowing waterfalls and white sand amidst a black, volcanic landscape, the Orchid delivers a picture-perfect Hawaiian paradise. Although not an all-inclusive in the truest sense, $600 a night gets you an ocean view room and a breakfast package, and once you arrive, you need not leave the property – indulge in a Champagne picnic, then get a massage at their Spa Without Walls, which offers the choice of a hale (hut) next to a waterfall or an open-air cabana right next to the rolling Pacific waves.

Viceroy, Anguilla

Set against the blue of the Caribbean Sea, the Viceroy is a sanctuary of refinement and haute design on the shores of Barnes Bay in Anguilla, a tiny island nation reachable only by private jet or by ferry from nearby St. Maarten. Take the all-inclusive package, which runs around $900 per night, and includes a King room and three meals (for two) every day at one of three restaurants (all of which boast stunning ocean views), or go all out and stay in one of the resort’s villas. True, a four-bedroom bluff top unit runs more than $3,500 a night, but it comes with your own private pool, personal butler and more than 4,000 square feet of living space.

Idyllic Concept Resort, Thailand

Located on the remote island of Koh Lipe, Idyllic requires guests to slip off their shoes before they check in. Visitors reach the resort by wooden, long-tailed boat via the warm, clear waters of the Andaman Sea, then land on the sands of lovely Sunrise Beach. The island, which has no roads, was named by National Geographic as an essential place to visit (calling it the “perfect beach”), and is the ultimate “no shirt, no shoes” destination. Once you check in, explore this small, modern resort that offers great meals, a beautiful pool and a fully stocked bar. Best of all, you can leave those shoes off, or perhaps swap them for flippers, as the surrounding waters are preserved as a national park, and contain 25 per cent of all the world’s tropical fish.

Melia Cayo Coco, Cuba

Set on the paradise island of Cayo Coco, this is the perfect place to sink your toes into the powdery white sand, Cuba Libre in hand, and just relax. And the Melia Cayo Coco is a great place to do it, with superior suites built on stilts over a natural saltwater lagoon, a giant pool flanked on all sides by swaying palms and more than a kilometre of prime beach. In addition, four restaurants, including Las Caletas – located next to the water, with classical guitar and flute played tableside, is one of the most romantic restaurants in the Caribbean.

Dream Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

In the fabulous beach side city where Richard Burton famously romanced Elizabeth Taylor back in the 1960’s, this resort – named one of the finest in all of Mexico by Conde Nast Traveler – brings together the charm of Puerto Vallarta with fine barefoot luxury. Guests enjoy six restaurants (and four lounges), a world-class spa, complimentary greens fees at a number of nearby championship golf courses, a 24-hour concierge and a private beach on a secluded cove. It’s enough to make anyone feel a bit romantic.