California

5 All-Inclusive Style California Beach Resorts

California does have some luxury beach resorts offering all-inclusive style packages that allow you to inclusively book everything from meals to golf and massages. But they don't always advertise, so reading this guide is key to knowing what exists.

I love the concept of all-inclusive resorts from a financial planning perspective — I know what I’m paying for before I arrive, which saves me a lot of anxiety about how much I’m spending on food and drinks. But serious downsides of an all-inclusive resort stay can be the sub-par food and the property’s enormous size. So what I really appreciate about many California beach resorts is that they offer all-inclusive options without being the traditional mega-sized properties you find in Mexico or across the Caribbean.

Instead, in California, you’ll find hotels and resorts, mostly in the luxury category (but catering to families as well as couples), that offer guests the option of purchasing add-on packages to make the stay more all-inclusive. These can include everything from four-course dinners to spa credits or rounds of golf. From Santa Barbara to Big Sur, here are five of our top choices for all-inclusive style beach resorts in California.

Map of featured hotels:

1. Romantic Bliss in Wildly Beautiful Big Sur

If you want an all-inclusive style escape that is adults-only, it is hard to find a more romantic spot than the Post Ranch Inn. Perched on a cliff overlooking Big Sur’s wild Pacific coastline, the luxury property has an intimate feel with just 39 rooms and one private home. All accommodations have a rustic zen ambiance and are designed with digital detox and relaxation in mind — there are no TVs or alarm clocks to distract you, although there is free WiFi.

Book the “Romance at the Ranch” package for a nearly all-inclusive experience. The three-night package includes two four-course dinners at the award-winning Sierra Mar Restaurant, two one-hour Post Ranch Massages in your room, daily breakfast, and a bottle of champagne upon arrival. It also includes a number of activities that are free to all guests such as yoga, guided nature walks, stargazing, and access to the hotel’s swimming pools and fitness center. There are also two-night packages with similar amenities.

If you’d rather not go the all-inclusive route, it’s good to know that the Post Ranch Inn does not charge a resort fee and all reservations include free breakfast, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages in your mini bar, and the above mentioned activities. That said, if you plan to dine onsite, note that both lunch and dinner are prix fixe menus only.

Post Ranch Inn

Top rated
Big Sur
9.1 Excellent (190 reviews)

2. Santa Barbara Chic by the Beach

On 22-acres just across from the beach in Santa Barbara, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore is a California mission architecture-style property that is lavishly elegant with beautiful gardens. Guests can book a number of different packages to create more of an all-inclusive stay experience. The top one is probably the “Experience More” package that includes a nightly resort credit of up to $300. There is also a unique “Sip & Stay” package that features complimentary wine tastings at five tasting rooms all within walking distance of The Biltmore.

The property has two onsite restaurants: Bella Vista, which cooks up organic Italian fare (don’t skip the fresh house-made pasta — the spinach rigatoni with a lamb bolognese is recommended ) and Tydes, which has indoor/outdoor dining space and a seafood focused menu (start with oysters and move on to the grilled lobster).

The private beach club, located just across the street, is a wonderful included amenity. It features a big oceanfront swimming pool, chairs and daybeds on the sand and its own restaurant. When it comes time to sleep, you’ll have a choice to book rooms, suites or the ultra luxe individual bungalows.

Four Seasons The Biltmore Santa Barbara

Top rated
Santa Barbara
9.0 Excellent (1428 reviews)

3. Private Beach Club and Five Star Luxury in Dana Point

In Orange County, about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles in Dana Point, Hotel Monarch Beach Resort is set on 175 acres on a bluff facing the ocean. The five-star resort caters to couples and offers a few different all inclusive style packages. The “Complete Retreat” is one, featuring free breakfast, a nightly $100 resort credit, valet parking, and no extra resort fee.

If you golf, there are a few golfing inclusive packages — the course here faces the ocean and is considered one of the top couple’s courses in the U.S. The rooms and suites come in all shapes and sizes, but the best have full ocean views from private balconies. If you want your own fire-pit, then book one of the ground level rooms that feature them on the private patio.

It is just a five-minute walk down hill to the hotel’s private Monarch Bay Beach Club (a golf cart shuttle that runs back and forth if you don’t want to hoof it). Guests have access to complimentary sun-loungers and umbrellas here. Other freebies for all guests include beach activities and games, unlimited fitness classes at the onsite Miraval Life in Balance Spa, a 24-hour athletic club with Peloton bikes and tennis courts with free equipment rentals.

Use your nightly resort credit at any of the five onsite restaurants including Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak and the Mediterranean-inspired AVEO. Bourbon Steak is known for its flavorful steak, seafood and wine pairings and innovative creations like a lobster pot pie or a whole fried chicken with truffle mac and cheese and charred asparagus.

Hotel Monarch Beach Resort

Top rated
Dana Point
9.4 Excellent (4255 reviews)

4. Family-Friendly Fun in Laguna Beach

In downtown Laguna Beach, the Surf & Sand Resort sits on a hill above the town’s prime stretch of gold sand beach. The property has 167 rooms that all feature oceanfront balconies in three different buildings. These come with fun, beach-inspired design like plantation shutters, bleached wood and a blue and white color scheme. Original art hangs from the walls.

The property caters to families and couples alike. While it is not a traditional all-inclusive, it does run packages that make it feel more so. The “Family Fun Package” is one option. It includes a $75 resort credit, milk and cookies in your room when you check-in, and s’mores and an in-room camping kit for the kids — they’ll set up a tent in the living space. Other packages feature bed and breakfast or nightly cocktails. Regardless of whether you book a package, the resort has a pool facing the ocean and a giant fitness center that are complimentary.

You’ll also find the excellent Splashes by the Sea restaurant, which has a menu that changes with the seasons. It always features lots of fresh seafood including an excellent sweet corn ravioli topped with diver scallops. The restaurant faces the ocean and is best appreciated at sunset. The Aquaterra Spa is where to pamper yourself with made-in-house treatments like a strawberry sugar body scrub.

Hotel Surf & Sand Resort

Top rated
Laguna Beach
8.8 Excellent (1564 reviews)

5. Posh Pampering Outside Santa Barbara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara doesn’t offer a traditional all-inclusive experience. But you can book one of their packages that will garner you free breakfast, valet parking, waived resort fees and various dining or spa credits at the posh five-star property. Set on 78 well-manicured acres about 20 minutes drive west of Santa Barbara, the Ritz-Carlton overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is a favorite celebrity hideaway.

The Spanish Mediterranean-style property blends beautifully into its natural environs and features two beaches, three saltwater infinity pools, a massive spa and even a movie theater. There are also multiple restaurants onsite. Check out The Bistro for local produce and sustainable seafood dishes. Angel Oak has ocean views and is a modern steakhouse that pairs aged and prime cuts with wine from one of the region’s best stocked cellars.

The rooms and suites here are elegantly appointed and live up to the high standards the Ritz is known for. The huge marble bathrooms are especially appealing with deep soaking tubs, separate showers, and Frette towels and robes.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Top rated
Santa Barbara
8.6 Excellent (1793 reviews)