The absolute cheapest all-inclusive resort in the world? US$79/night for 2
The world is filled with incredible travel bargains for those who look hard and long enough, and that's one of the things we specialize in on this site. In most cases it's only a piece of trivia to know that the world's cheapest hostel charges only US$1 per night or that the world's cheapest bottle of liquor costs even less. But it turns out that the world's cheapest all-inclusive resort (as far as we can tell) is in a popular part of the Caribbean and you might even want to visit.
Just recently, we researched the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, but for that list we tossed out the resorts that consistently get mediocre (or worse) reviews. Surprisingly though, most of the cheapest resorts (based on off-season rates) actually get mostly-positive reviews. The single cheapest one we found didn't miss the cutoff by much, and we'd seriously consider staying there.
The cheapest all-inclusive resort in the world: Natura Park Beach – EcoResort & Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
At least in October, 2013, you can book a Standard Room at the Natura Park Beach – EcoResort & Spa in Punta Cana for only US$79.06 per night for two people, all-inclusive. Yes, this means you get three meals per day as well as non-premium alcohol plus an air-conditioned guest room not far from a pool and the beach for less than US$80 per night. I'm pretty sure I could drink US$79 worth of alcohol by myself at a typical beach resort, even if I was restricted to local beer and rum.
During January 2014 the same room goes for US$155 per night, and there are a few higher rated resorts that charge even less during high season, so this one only seems to be an amazing bargain during the slow months. Actually, in the off season you can book a higher rated all-inclusive room for only US$89 per night for two people at several other Caribbean resorts. Still, this feels like a jaw-dropping room rate all things considered.
Fast facts about the Natura Park Beach – EcoResort & Spa
- 524 guest rooms
- Restaurants: 4
- Swimming pools: 1
- Star rating on official website: 5 stars
- Star rating on Expedia: 3 stars
- Expedia verified average review: 3.5 stars
- TripAdvisor average review: 3.5 stars
How can they afford to offer these rates?
Certainly, the majority of guests (who are mostly Canadian and Russian according to some of the reviews) pay more than US$79 per night per couple, even in the off season. Still, by offering this rate they imply that they can be profitable by filling rooms this way in the low season.
The labor costs in the Dominican Republic are low, and obviously a large resort like this (524 rooms) buys all its food and alcohol in bulk, but still, this is shocking. The fact that most guests actually give it generally positive reviews is almost as surprising, as we'd expect the “world's cheapest all-inclusive resort” to be savaged by past guests.
Is it really an “EcoResort”?
Another notable trend in the Caribbean has been toward so-called “eco resorts,” and most of them use solar power to run ceiling fans in guest rooms, with no A/C or TV or anything else. The Natura Park Beach EcoResort, however, has air conditioning and TV in every room, so in spite of the price, guests aren't expected to suffer to save a buck.
It appears that the lobby and other common areas are open-air, which is standard in the Tropics, so they aren't air conditioned. The “Eco” in the name seems to relate to the fact that there are natural areas surrounding the resort where you can see birds, turtles, and other local wild life.
The one troubling thing that scares us
The average review score of about 3.5 out of 5 on both Expedia and TripAdvisor is below average but not by much. However, when Expedia asks its verified reviewers whether they'd recommend this resort to others, it only gets 58% positive responses. Even other nearby all-inclusive resorts that only cost a bit more get around 80% on this measure, and 58% is one of the lowest scores we've seen.
While most reviewers probably paid at least a bit more than US$79 per night, they still paid very low prices for an all-inclusive experience. If nearly half of them regretted staying here, that's a sign that most of us are better off paying a bit more to go somewhere else.
Where to find the lowest rates on this and nearby resorts
Interestingly, the rates given on the resort's official website (it's part of a chain that also operates in Cuba and Mallorca) are US$120 per night for the same dates. CheapCaribbean usually has the best rates including airfare, but for this hotel-only they showed a bit over US$100 per night.
It was Expedia that listed and continues to list the resort for only US$79 per night during October. Our research has shown overwhelmingly that online travel agencies consistently offer better rates than official hotel sites or other outlets.
Do you know of a cheaper all-inclusive hotel?
There are very few all-inclusive hotels in Southeast Asia or India, and the ones there tend to be more upmarket. We checked rates in Turkey and Egypt and in both cases they were at least a bit higher than at this resort. Are you aware of an even cheaper all-inclusive resort that includes all meals and alcohol?