As I discovered at The Caves in Negril, Jamaica, not every all-inclusive hotel is a mega-playground. The Caves is a jewel-box retreat for top-tier incentive winners who have been there, done that — and want to experience the kind of laid-back luxury and attention to detail that rated this resort one of the world's 10 great escapes in the March 2004 issue of the Robb Report.
Spread out over two lush acres are thatched-roof buildings that seem to grow organically from the craggy, seaside clifftop. There are 10 handcrafted cottages, each with a different decorative theme but all distinguished by colorful local artwork. There's a saltwater pool, but it's more fun to walk down one of the sets of wide stone steps for a dip in the clear turquoise sea. Along the way is a series of stone outcroppings that serve as sundecks (or diving platforms) and the caves for which the resort is named. Some of them hold surprises: an outdoor shower, a romantic dining grotto, a Jacuzzi tub.
Bicycles, snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and water rafts are included in the all-inclusive pricing, and additional activities can be arranged. A highlight of my visit was a relaxing massage in the open-air Aveda mini-spa overlooking the sea.
In the off-season, groups of as many as 24 can take over the resort. A new outdoor function area upholds the colorful, handcrafted aesthetic with a thatched-roof bar that has inlaid blue-glass accents. Even the metal barbecue equipment was sculpted by local artisans.