It’s now been decades that Americans and Europeans have been heading to the Caribbean for sunny winter holidays, and we all know that there are over 20 different Caribbean countries comprising scores of islands, not even including the small ones. The all inclusive resort trend is only about 20 years old, after Club Med started building them for European customers, so you might think these resorts have spread throughout the Caribbean by now. But they haven’t.
Well over half of the all-inclusive resorts are on Jamaica and Dominican Republic
At this point there are around 200 all inclusive resorts on Caribbean islands (not including Mexico), so you might be surprised to learn that about 150 of those are on Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and the other 50 are spread thinly among the other islands.
Punta Cana in the DM has the most, followed by Puerto Plata and then by Montego Bay in Jamaica. Actually, the DM itself has over 100 of the all inclusives, so they are in a position to offer the best deals, and they do. Jamaica has Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril, all in the same general area, and they offer good deals as well.
Why the bigger islands offer the best deals
If you shop around you will notice that you can find all inclusive beach resorts in Puerto Plata starting at around US$150 per couple, even during the high season. And you’ll also find that the cheapest such resorts on St. Croix is close to US$400 per night for two. Now, in many ways the resort industry reflects that you “get what you pay for”, but in this case the St. Croix resort will not be 3 times as nice as the Puerto Plata one, and here’s why.
The cheapest (and best value) resorts have hundreds of guest rooms, so they can save money by offering services to many guests at once. The food for an island like St. Croix has to be flown or shipped in daily because they don’t grow much on that small island, and as a result something like a tomato might cost twice as much and also be a day older than on a big island.
On the other hand, islands like Dominican Republic and Jamaica are large enough to grow and raise much of the food needed at the resorts, all with relatively cheap labor, so guests can get high quality at low prices. They also have active fishing industries so they can pull all the freshest seafood out of the water in the morning, and guests are eating it that night. At the smaller islands you can get a few local items, but most of it is going to have to be caught and processed elsewhere and shipped in daily.
The point of all of this is that if you are choosing between a US$300 per night room in Punta Cana and one the same price in St. Thomas, chances are the Punta Cana one will actually be nicer and a far better value.