By Kara Franker
You can take the worry out of planning your next Florida vacation when you book a hotel package. The Sunshine State has plenty of hotel options to choose from, ranging from an all-inclusive resort to properties that offer meals-plus-room plans.
“I love packages because it takes so much stress off of having to budget for the trip once you arrive, and if you are traveling with children, it's so nice to lounge by the pool and enjoy the afternoon without worrying about your lunch and snack bill,” said Marisa Langford, a.k.a. Tampa Mama, a family travel blogger.
“The greatest advantage of all-inclusive resorts are how hands-off they are for families and large groups. I remember doing family reunions at resorts like this – with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins – and no one having to take time away from visiting to sort out logistics like meals and activities,” said Amy Lynne Hayes, travel writer and founder of Creatrice Mondial. “It's truly a vacation for all involved.”
Be aware, though, that the definiton of "all-inclusive" can vary property to property. All-inclusive, for instance, can mean that breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, plus airport transportation and more are included. Or, it may mean that just lunch and dinner are included. Often, spa treatments, golf outings or local tours will cost extra. So, when you're researching your destination, check all the options to see exactly what's included – and what's not. Then you can spend your time at the resort just relaxing.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
Located on the St. Lucie River about an hour north of West Palm Beach, Club Med Sandpiper Bay prides itself as the only true all-inclusive resort in the United States, meaning that travelers pay a flat rate for the room, food, drinks and activities.
Situated on a beach of nearly 400 feet, the resort has plenty of things to do for the whole family, including sailing, paddle boarding, tennis, volleyball, and even a flying trapeze and circus school. Club Med organizes events throughout the week that will keep the family entertained and promises there are no hidden costs or fees. Score the best deals when you book a weeklong vacation.
Sirata Beach Resort
On the west coast of Florida, Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach offers packages that include room, food and beverages. Situated directly on the beach and the Gulf of Mexico, the resort features three waterfront swimming pools and two popular beach bars that provide a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. Based on a four-night minimum stay for two, the package includes breakfast, lunch and a three-course dinner. Cocktails (well brands) are included too, but there’s an up-charge if you want a fancy brand or a frozen concoction.
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
For travelers who want the crème de la crème, but don’t want to look at the bill after every meal, then Little Palm Island Resort & Spa’s room-plus-dining plan could be the perfect fit. The resort sits on its own private island in the Florida Keys and is accessible only by yacht or seaplane. A great locale for a romantic getaway, all guests must be age 16 or older. The full meal plan comes in quite handy since there are no other restaurants outside the resort. The package includes three meals, free valet, yacht transfer, welcome bottle of champagne, and a $100 spa credit per person.
With 10 locations across Florida, The Ritz-Carlton offers an opportunity for guests who want a luxurious stay and access to an exclusive selection of food presentations. Each of the Ritz hotels in Amelia Island, Bal Harbour, Coconut Grove, Fort Lauderdale, Key Biscayne, Naples (beach and golf resorts), Orlando, Sarasota and South Beach offers access to the Club Lounge for guests who book a VIP-style vacation. When you book a room on the Club Level, you can partake in five food presentations per day and you may come and go as often as you wish. There’s also a free selection of wine, beer, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. Each Club Lounge also offers a special concierge service that will customize experiences for the whole family. Club Lounge rates vary depending on the hotel location and season.
Walt Disney World Resort
There’s nothing more exciting than a family trip to Disney World. To make planning a little easier for parents, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando offers room and dining options that include more than 100 restaurants to choose from. When you book your vacation, you’ll purchase one of the “Magic Your Way Vacation Packages.” Then you simply show your MagicBand or card to your server before ordering and the card electronically monitors your family’s meals and tracks them for you. For example, the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan includes three meals and two snacks for everyone in your party over the age of three. Prices vary depending on the hotel you choose to book and the time of the year. Travel tip: we recommend making reservations for signature restaurants and character dining well in advance to guarantee a seat. Then sit back, relax and let the magic happen.
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