10 great places to find value in an all-inclusive resort

— -- With cool weather on the way, it's time to start planning a tropical vacation. All-inclusive resorts, which provide room, food, drinks and most activities for one price, are a great option, says Jennifer Garfinkel, an editor with Oyster.com, an independent hotel review website. But the cheapest resorts aren't necessarily the best bargains, she says. "Some will give you more bang for your buck." She shares several favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY. All rates shown are the average price from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15 for two adults in one room.

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive


The couples-oriented retreat is part of the large Divi resort, which has golf, a casino and nine restaurants. But the Tamarijn is quieter, and all rooms have ocean views. "It's one of the best all-inclusive options," Garfinkel says. Average price: $324. 800-554-2008; tamarijnaruba.com

Occidental Grand Aruba


This modern, comfortable hotel draws young couples, families and retirees. "This is definitely a step up," Garfinkel says. "The rooms are up to date and really nice," Garfinkel says. Highlights include the beach, and lagoon pool. It's just a few minutes' walk from the island's busy downtown area with shopping and nightlife. Average price: $433. 800-858-2258; occidentalhotels.com

Iberostar Costa Dorada Hotel

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is full of all-inclusives, but Garfinkel says this hyper-indulgent mega-resort is the best in the Puerto Plata area. In particular, she notes the free beer-stocked mini-bars in the room, name-brand liquor and better food than in neighboring resorts. "When we talk about value, these are the kinds of things we're looking for," Garfinkel says. Average price: $149. 305-774-9225; iberostar.com

Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

This 700-room resort might seem massive, but it's perfect for families or couples, Garfinkel says. The food is a notch above competitors and although the rooms are a bit dated, they do come with Jacuzzis. "I love this hotel. It's huge. However, it somehow maintains this beautiful whitewashed colonial look to it," she says. Average price: $221. 866-282-2442; bahia-principe.com

Majestic Colonial Punta Cana

Dominican Republic

You'll find one of the best hotel pools in the Dominican Republic at this resort. "It's twisty and has a bridge and an island and winds all over the property," Garfinkel says. The beach and the rooms also are impressive. Some rooms come with canopy beds and Jacuzzis. Average price: $186. International number: 809-221-9898; majestic-resorts.com

Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa

Dominican Republic

Even if you're not into sunbathing, you won't get bored at this 620-room resort, Garfinkel says. "It has a lot of really great activities, things like rock climbing, tennis, basketball, a modern gym and even a mechanical bull," she says. There also are bicycles and Xboxes and Wiis for kids. Average price: $204. 866-237-3267; dreamsresorts.com/drepc

Riu Paradise Island-All Inclusive

Paradise Island, Bahamas

Located next to the sprawling Atlantis resort, the Riu provides the best of both worlds. It offers plenty of free activities during the day, and the chance to wander over to Atlantis' casino and restaurants at night - although it'll cost you, since they're off-property. The hotel was renovated in 2009, plus it has a beautiful beach. It also is one of the few all-inclusives in the Bahamas. Average price: $336. 888-748-4990; www.riu.com

Sanctuary Cap Cana, Punta Cana

Dominican Republic

Just 2 years old, this 176-room clifftop resort is one of the best in the Dominican Republic. Guests find beautifully decorated pools, a spa and golf course. "Everything about it is near perfect," Garfinkel says. "It's definitely a place to go when you're ready to pamper yourself and really splurge." Beginning in December, guests will have to opt-in for an all-inclusive package. Average price: $499. 866-855-4886; grandresortscapcana.com

Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa

Montego Bay, Jamaica

This Hilton resort offers guests an all-inclusive option, and Garfinkel says it's a great value. Although rooms are small, they feature flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, spa-quality bath products and a powerful Wi-Fi signal — all rare luxuries in Jamaica. "You can go there and you know what to expect," Garfinkel says. "You don't have the mystery of some chain that you've never heard of." Average price: $339. 866-799-3661; rosehallresort.com

Grotto Bay


A lovely beach and mysterious grotto would make this 21-acre resort stand out on any island. But on sometimes-pricey Bermuda, it's one of the few all-inclusive options. Snorkelers and divers love the private beach with an off-shore shipwreck to explore. And the spa in a cave is a unique amenity. It's open year round, but temperatures do drop in winter. Average room price: $454. International number: 441-293-8333; www.grottobay.com