What's the attraction?
We're all looking for a bargain. Hence First Choice (0871 200 4455; firstchoice.co.uk) becomes the first mainstream UK travel brand to go exclusively all-inclusive from May. The increase in interest in paying for everything up front – up 32 per cent from 2004 to 2009, according to Mintel – was enough to persuade First Choice to reconsider its business model. While resorts can create barriers against exploring beyond the gates and spending money in local enterprises, for many travellers, all-inclusive holidays offer financial reassurance – all the more so if you plan a trip somewhere the pound is performing poorly.
Few resorts are quite so dedicated to creating an adults-only atmosphere as Sandals (0800 742 742; sandals.co.uk), which has been sprucing up seven of its 14 resorts in the Caribbean.
Typical of the revamp is Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort in Jamaica, where $60m (£40m) has been spent on upgrading rooms, adding a new beach club with poolside butler service, improving and expanding lounge areas and revamping the spa.
A nine-night all-inclusive holiday costs from £1,599 per person including return flights and transfers.
What's beyond the gate?
You aren't necessarily confined within the walls of your resort. Southern Italy specialist Long Travel (01694 722193; long-travel.co.uk), has just launched its first all-inclusive package in Puglia from £350pp per week. The price doesn't include flights, which they can organise, but it does include transfers, meals, drinks and snacks, special events, children's entertainment and a beach shuttle.
The holiday is being offered at the Hotel Al Duemila, with just 25 rooms close to the historic towns of Lecce and Gallipoli, as well as the crystalline water of the Baia Verde.
Best for families
Club Med (08453 676 767; clubmed.co.uk), a pioneer of family all-inclusive holidays, has more than 80 resorts around the world that offer a wide range of activities and a high standard of food. Its newest destination is the mountain resort of Valmorel in the French Alps. Here, families get a choice of interconnecting rooms or chalet-apartments, kids' clubs for children aged from four months to 17 years, and access to skiing lessons in winter, or activities including mountain biking in summer. A week in the Easter holidays, from 1-8 April, costs £6,562 for two adults and two children, including flights and transfers.
Short and sweet
It's possible to take an all-inclusive short break, too. Olympic Holidays (0844 576 2386; olympicholidays.com) will take you to Limassol, Cyprus, for three nights at the Elias Beach Hotel for £399 per person, including return flights and transfers.
On the Spanish island of Mallorca, Cosmos (0844 573 4261; cosmos.co.uk) offers a three-night trip at the Hotel Barceló Cala Viñas from £245pp, including return flights and transfers. And a three-night weekend break for adults at Sinah Warren hotel (0800 1 388 399; warnerleisurehotels.co.uk) in Hampshire, costs from £299 per person.
Even private islands are getting in on the act. Desroches Island in the Seychelles, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have holidayed, went all-inclusive three years ago. Guests stay in luxury villas, waited on hand and foot, and enjoy as standard huge flat-screen TVs, freestanding bathtubs, outdoor showers and large private pools.
But this level of luxury comes at a pretty price – a family of four will pay £20,179 for seven nights on selected departures booked by 31 March through Destinology (0800 072 2227; destinology.co.uk).
Adventurous types can go all-inclusive, too. Five nights in one of the six tented suites at Garonga Safari Camp (00 27 87 806 2080; garonga.com) in South Africa costs from £2,095 per person with Imagine Africa (020-7622 5114; imagineafrica.co.uk).
An eight-day cross-country skiing trip in Venabu, Norway, costs from £1,259pp with Headwater (01606 720199; headwater.com).
In Thailand, the elephant camp at Anantara Golden Triangle (00 66 5378 4084; anantara.com) is the place to learn the art of the mahout, from £3,346pp for seven nights (01306 747 008; kuoni.co.uk).
Ski in the Andes, then horse ride in the Atacama desert from £3,475 on the two-week Chilean Luxplorer with Adventure Temples (0843 508 5005; adventuretemples.com). Or birdwatch in Kasanka National Park, Zambia, from £4,430 with The Zambezi Safari & Travel Company (01548 830059; zambezi.com).
Who Said That?
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value" – Albert Einstein
"Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves" – proverb
"Price is what you pay, value is what you get" – Warren Buffett, American businessman
"If you're a couple wanting to have a kids-free break in the Caribbean, then May and June are great months to get luxury at affordable all-inclusive prices – the climate and the deal is perfect and you may even get upgraded free to the honeymoon suite." Helen Edwards, co-owner, Essential Detail (020-8614 0077; essentialhotelcollection.co.uk)