Myth: You'll stay at the resort the whole time.
Reality: One of the beauties of this kind of honeymoon is that you have access to everything you need without setting foot off-property. That said, most resorts have concierge desks to help you plan excursions, such as horseback rides and rain-forest hikes. Many provide free shuttles to shopping areas. For an extra fee, your hotel can hire a private guide to take you around the isle.
Myth: __It's all about the buffets.
Reality:__ Yes, if you're checking in to one of the big chains, you'll find at least one buffet-style restaurant. But you don't have to get in line at every meal: Most all-inclusives offer a bounty of culinary offerings that range from room service to beachside grills to Japanese teppanyaki bars to more formal restaurants that serve Continental cuisine. Exactly how many dining options will you find? So many that at most places you could pick a different spot at every meal and avoid the warming trays altogether.
Myth: Everyone wears plastic wristbands.
Reality: It depends. Some resorts snap the orange bands on you, and expect to see them when you belly up to the beach bar (assurance that you're not a crasher); others will ask you to don a more sophisticated shell bracelet. Many require no wrist wear at all.
Myth: __You have to play cheesy pool games.
Reality:__ It's your honeymoon—you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Talk to a travel agent who specializes in all-inclusive vacations to get a feel for the atmosphere of a few resorts. Some will be all about blasting sound systems and wild poolside games, while others put the bingo players in one pool and offer a no-bingo sanctuary just around the corner. —Yolanda Crous
You're both really active.
Like starting the day with yoga, moving on to windsurfing, and fitting in some bocce before sunset? An all-inclusive holiday may be just your cup of Red Bull. The list of active offerings varies with each property (from tennis to trapeze lessons), and you can play from sun up to son down.
You like to make new friends.
Extroverts, rejoice: With a little effort, you'll likely return home from your holiday with more than a few additions to your Facebook Friends list. Along with the social lubricants in the bar, group events like team volleyball ensure that you'll make all the couple companions you could ever desire. Believe it or not, many honeymooners find themselves vacationing with their resort friends on future trips, too.
__You want to rock and roll all night—and party everyday.
__If you relish a bit of a buzz in the afternoon, we have two words for you: open bar. All-inclusives specialize in serving free-flowing libations to patrons—gratis. Some resorts charge extra for top-shelf liquor, so if your hubby must have his brand of scotch, be sure to ask about the resort's policy before you go.
You're mad about scuba diving.
If you're determined to spend as much time at the reef as on the beach, consider staying at a property that includes diving fees in its room rates. Many all-inclusive chains (including Sandals, Beaches, and some Grand Lido and Breezes properties) will outfit you with a tank for the princely price of…well, nothing. This policy can save avid divers hundreds of dollars on their honeymoon, but be warned—not every all-inclusive covers diving or other "motorized" water sports sports. Read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line, and then you can truly unwind and not worry about the expense once you arrive in paradise. —Yolanda Crous
Some words allow for no shades of meaning: college graduate, out of gas, pregnant. Not among them, however, is all-inclusive hotel, as even the most comprehensive leave a few things out. In addition to airfare, taxes, motorized water sports, room service, off-property tours, and Internet access, each of which may or may not be included, you should always inquire about the following amenities before you book your trip:
Alcohol: Find out whether cocktails and wine are included only at meals, and whether premium brands cost extra.
Spa: Except for a spa package, which is unusual at all-inclusive resorts, treatments like facials and massages are not included. (A rare exception: Grand Lido offers free manicures and pedicures.)
Scuba Diving: Gear is often included, but certification courses are not.
Golf: Greens fees are generally taken care of, but not caddy fees, carts, or club rentals. Still, it may be worth the extra cash not to schlep your own.
Laundry: If you can find an all-inclusive that will do your laundry at no additional cost, plan to move in. It's one in a million. —Bob Payne
Locations: This midsize, bargain-priced Spanish chain has put all of its eggs in one tropical basket-the Dominican Republic is home to the sole Allegro resort in the Caribbean region.
Highlights: The activity board seems like the most popular spot at the resort: Guests may originally choose Allegro for the low prices, but they end up loving it for the hefty roster of activities. You can select from pool games and water sports, such as kayaking, snorkeling, and windsurfing, as well as swim-up-bar sipping.
Romance: By day, get close with a couple's massage under a poolside thatched-roof palapa. By night, take in a performance by the resort's very own theater troupe, and don't be shy: Honeymooning guests often get a shout-out.
Prices: Doubles from $148 per couple at Allegro Playa Dorada (low season); 800-858-2258; occidentalhotels.com. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: Five resorts dot the lush isles of Barbados and St. Lucia—they range from modest and adults-only (the Almond Beach Club Resort & Spa in Barbados) to sprawling and family-friendly (St. Lucia's Almond Morgan Bay).
Highlights: The hotel encourages guests to plan ahead—you just e-mail your preferences (such as spa appointments and tee times) and it's all confirmed before you're even at the front gate.
Romance: At the adults-only Almond Beach Club Resort & Spa, couples canoodling underneath the waterfall-fed bi-level pool never raise eyebrows.
Prices: Doubles from $350 per couple at Almond Smugglers Cove to $613 at Almond Beach Club Resort & Spa, both low season, with a three-night minimum; 800-425-6663; almondresorts.com. —Chanize Thorpe
Locations: Two of Barceló's midsize Dominican Republic properties sit on Villas del Mar beach in Juan Dolio; the rest sprawl across two miles of Bávaro Beach in Punta Cana.
Highlights: Call it the tropical Sin City: Barceló resorts are rife with casinos and multistoried nightclubs. The Punta Cana complex (which is made up of five Barceló hotels) also has 14 restaurants and a long-running Vegas-style show called Tropicalissimo.
Romance: In Juan Dolio, book an excursion to Saona Island—after a day of swimming along the pristine shoreline, you'll stop at a natural pool to wish upon a dozen starfish.
Prices: Doubles from $90 per couple at Barceló Talanquera to $149 at Barceló Bávaro Palace, both low season; 800-227-2356; barcelo.com. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: The family alternative to Sandals has three resorts in Jamaica and one in the Turks & Caicos.
Highlights: Beaches' major appeal to couples, who may or may not be delighted by the prospect of a water park and an Xbox Game Oasis, is that it allows your destination wedding guests to bring their children along for the fun (not possible at adults-only Sandals). Services and amenities are generally on par with what you would find at Sandals, including airport transfers, as many as 10 restaurants, golf greens fees, tennis lessons, and a truly impressive list of water sports.
Romance: Watch a gaggle of little ones march back to the kids' camp, and imagine returning with your own someday.
Prices: Doubles from $610 per couple at Beaches Sandy Bay to $862 at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa, both low season, with a two-night minimum; 800-232-2437; beaches.com. —Bob Payne
Locations: Mostly known for its Jamaican retreats, Breezes (which is the least expensive group in the SuperClubs chain) also has outposts in Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.
Highlights: Breezes caters to active types, with unusual options such as rock-climbing walls, trampolines, and (surprise!) roller-skating rinks right off the beach. You'll flip for him all over again at the weekly trapeze workshop.
Romance: Sign up for the Honeymoon Registry program (sister chain Grand Lido has one, too) and your wedding guests can treat you to passion-provoking extras like spa treatments and private beachfront dinners for two.
Prices: Doubles from $138 per couple at Breezes Puerto Plata to $298 at Breezes Runaway Bay Resort & Golf Club, both low season, with a three-night minimum; 877-467-8737; superclubs.com. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: These medium-size properties—each of the six Caribbean resorts has fewer than 350 rooms—are scattered throughout the islands. The most honeymoon-friendly options (read: not family- or party-oriented) are in the Bahamas, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.
Highlights: Whichever club you visit, you'll find a sports-heavy activities menu (from pilates to archery lessons), an international staff, and truly delicious food. Bien sûr—it's a French chain.
Romance: Climb aboard a chauffeured catamaran for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on a sunset sail for two.
Prices: Doubles from $260 per couple at Club Med Punta Cana to $400 at Club Med Columbus Isle, both low season; 800-258-2633; clubmed.us. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: There are four resorts in Jamaica, including two in Negril and two in Ocho Rios.
Highlights: This is the chain that started the couples-only all-inclusive phenomenon. And, with only four locations, it aims to offer more personalized service than guests might find at a larger chain. (The quality of dining in the specialty restaurants, which include Italian, Thai, and Jamaican options, sets the bar for the entire island.)
Romance: In addition to the typical aerobics classes, the gym offers a course in how to give your new spouse a massage.
Prices: Doubles from $533 per couple at Couples Ocho Rios to $593 at Couples San Souci, both low season, with a three-night minimum; 800-268-7537; couples.com. —Bob Payne
DIVI AND TAMARIJN ARUBA
Locations: Divi has two all-inclusive resorts in Aruba, set apart by a large stretch of sand on Eagle Beach. How to choose? Tamarijn is the family-friendly choice; Divi is quieter and more upscale.
Highlights: The resorts call themselves "mega all-inclusives," meaning that you have access to both properties. As a result, if you stay at Divi, you can still use Tamarijn's water toys.
Romance: These resorts offer a change from run-of-the-mill buffets: The beachside table for two, bottomless glasses of wine, and grilled-to-order lobster dinners are welcome touches.
Prices: Doubles from $338 per couple at Tamarijn Aruba to $388 at Divi Aruba, both low season, with a three-night minimum; 800-367-3484; diviresorts.com. —Chanize Thorpe
Locations: The 452-room Excellence Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is the haute chain's one and only Caribbean property. There's another on the way: A new location is scheduled to open near Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 2009.
Highlights: The two best things about Excellence? Uno: The service. Where elsewould a hostess offer you her arm and escort you to your table for a buffet lunch? Dos: The guest rooms. Picture chic colonial-style decor, complete with white columns, a four-poster bed, and a boudoir-size balcony that's perfect for private champagne toasts.
Romance: Make a sexy splash in the network of canal-like pools—a terrific lazy river ride with not a single SpongeBob wannabe in sight. (Yes, the hotel has an adults-only policy.)
Prices: Doubles from $323 per couple at Excellence Punta Cana (low season); 011-52-998-872-85-55; excellenceresorts.com. —Yolanda Crous
GRAND LIDO RESORTS
Locations: Talk about one love: Both of this chain's intimate (less than 250 rooms) resorts are located in Jamaica.
Highlights: These upscale properties (the pricier arm of the SuperClubs chain) cater exclusively to adults, with seductive amenities like pillow menus, 24-hour room service, and au naturel beaches.
Romance: In Negril, celebrate sunset with a special beachside massage for two. Grand Lido Braco duos mix strolls on the sand with hand-in-hand meanders down the cobblestone streets of the hotel's Jamaican Village shopping area.
Prices: Doubles from $402 per couple at Grand Lido Braco Resort & Spa to $440 at Grand Lido Negril Resort & Spa, both low season, with a three-night minimum; 877-467-8737; superclubs.com. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: With four resorts across the Dominican Republic and a new outpost in Montego Bay, Jamaica, these midsize properties are perfect for a tranquilo—but not too tranquilo—honeymoon.
Highlights: Though all the usual suspects (water sports, tennis, sailing) appear on the activities menu, the guests at these laid-back hotels tend to spend plenty of time sunning on the beach.
Romance: Watch carefully as the chefs whip up the evening's seafood creation in the open kitchen—you'll want to try to re-create the magic at your stove when you get back home.
Prices: Doubles from $210 per couple at Iberostar Costa Dorada to $352 at Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, both low season; 888-923-2722; iberostar.com. —Yolanda Crous
Location: The company owns three distinctly different all-inclusive Jamaican hotels—Strawberry Hill, in the Blue Mountains near Kingston; the Caves, in Negril; and Goldeneye, near Ocho Rios—all of which are boutique-style gems.
Highlights: You'll find no piña colada machines to serve the masses here. The vibe at this tiny upscale hotel group is informal sophistication on a level rarely found at an all-inclusive resort. Music and entertainment industry execs are well represented among the clientele, no doubt because the group's owner is Chris Blackwell, who founded Island Records and introduced Bob Marley to the world.
Romance: At Goldeneye, take in the same stunning sea view that distracted Ian Fleming when he was writing the James Bond novels at his home here.
Prices: Doubles from $395 per couple at Strawberry Hill to $660 at Goldeneye, both low season, with a three-night minimum; 800-688-7678; islandoutpost.com. —Bob Payne
MELIÁ HOTELS & RESORTS
Locations: This Spanish chain has hotels around the world but just one all-inclusive in the Caribbean—the Meliá Caribe Tropical, in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic. How big is it? You have to take a shuttle from your room (one of 1,000-plus) to get to the 13 restaurants.
Highlights: Despite its size, the resort exudes a sophistication that's more Miami-lounge than pool-splashing fiesta. (Check out the slinky orange chairs in the lobby and the whirlpool tubs in the junior suites.) Tip: Despite the sexy setting, kids are allowed, so book a room far from the boisterous family suites.
Romance: Sip martinis on a king-size Balinese lounge bed at the Gabi Club—by day it's a sleek pool bar; at night it morphs into a truly exclusive lounge, where only guests in Royal Service rooms get past the proverbial velvet rope.
Prices: Doubles from $200 per couple at the Meliá Caribe Tropical (low season); 888-336-3542; solmelia.com. —Yolanda Crous
OCCIDENTAL GRAND HOTELS
Locations: Most of Occidental Grand's Caribbean hotels—which vary in size from 400 to 900 rooms each—are located in the Dominican Republic, with the exception of one in Aruba.
Highlights: Slightly more refined than sister chain Allegro, Occidental Grand gives serenity-loving guests the option of booking a room at the Royal Club—a quiet section of the resort with its own pool, check-in desk, and elegant restaurant.
Romance: Avoid the crowds that can fill up the restaurants by opting for a peaceful, candlelit dinner on the beach—it's well worth the splurge.
Prices: Doubles from $222 per couple at Occidental Grand Punta Cana to $452 at Occidental Grand Aruba, both low season; 800-858-2258; occidentalhotels.com. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: More intimate (and more posh) than sister chain Meliá, Paradisus has two 500-room Punta Cana properties in the Dominican Republic.
Highlights: Public spaces, from the lobby to the pool area, have distinct atmospheres with their own music, style, andscents. The lobby, for example, is done in earth tones, with lounge music and a citrus aroma; another lounge is red with New Age tunes and amber perfume.
Romance: What's more romantic than a sunset horseback ride down Bávaro Beach? A sunset horseback ride that's included in your room rate. (Merengue and cooking classes are bundled in, too.)
Prices: Doubles from $263 per couple at Paradisus Punta Cana to $413 at Paradisus Palma Real, both low season; 888-336-3542; solmelia.com. —Yolanda Crous
Locations: This expanding Spanish chain has more than 100 hotels and resorts worldwide—and plenty of Caribbean options. There are eight in the Dominican Republic, three in Jamaica (two in Negril; one in Ocho Rios), and one each in the Bahamas and Aruba.
Highlights: Guests are a diverse group. Around the pool, you'll find a jovial mix of couples and families, Americans and Europeans, all there for the value and the lively activities.
Romance: After several nights of spending time alone, join the hot crowd at the hotel bars. Make friends with a honeymooning couple from Barcelona, who can share their family's sangria recipe and help you perfect a sexy Catalan lisp.
Prices: Doubles from $162 per couple at Hotel Riu Naiboa to $542 at Hotel Riu Palace Aruba, both low season; 888-666-8816; riu.com. —Bob Payne
Locations: This is the chain that took the one-price-buys-you-everything vacation concept and turned it into a global brand name. Still the best-known of the all-inclusive chains, Sandals has seven resorts in Jamaica, three in St. Lucia, and one each in Antigua and the Bahamas.
Highlights: Sandals has remained at the top of the all-inclusive game for several decades by being an innovator—it was the first to offer free wedding ceremonies (Sandals dubbed them "WeddingMoons") and, more recently, to offer butlers in suites and "surprise" treats to honeymooners. Ultimately, what's most appealing is that if you're a truly social just-married couple, you'll love the good cheer of the down-to-earth, friendly newlyweds gathered around the pool bar.
Romance: When he takes a deep breath and finally agrees to a couple's massage at the Red Lane Spa, you'll know your guy really loves you. Our advice? Book the couple's "Scrub a Dub Dub" treatment: a tropical exfoliation followed by a warm mineral bath, and then a truly relaxing couple's massage.
Prices: Doubles from $494 per couple at Sandals Inn to $884 at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort & Offshore Island, both low season, with a two-night minimum; 800-726-3257; sandals.com. —Bob Payne
VIVA WYNDHAM RESORTS
Locations: Most of the moderately sized (and moderately priced) hotels in this chain are spread across the Dominican Republic. The one exception: an outpost in the Bahamas.
Highlights: Guests—be they actual children or grown-ups celebrating their youthful spirit—come to Viva Wyndham to play all day and night. After fueling up for the evening at the dinner buffet, honeymooners often hit a poolside party, followed by a late-night visit to the disco.
Romance: Among the extras doled out to just-marrieds: a room upgrade (when one is available, of course) and a free couple's photo. The latter may sound like a small thing, but it's a welcome alternative to asking strangers to take your picture so you have proof you honeymooned together.
Prices: Doubles from $144 per couple at Viva Wyndham Samaná to $196 at Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace, both low season; 800-996-3426; vivaresorts.com. —Yolanda Crous