Resorts vs Hotels: The Differences And Best Option For Your Next Getaway

Photo credit: Jacob Lund/

A snazzy downtown hotel, or a dreamy Caribbean beach resort? The choice between hotels vs resorts can take some serious thought ahead of your getaway and the best decision tends to depend on the reason for travelling.

Are you just looking for a place to stay near the conference center downtown? Or are you going on a long-awaited vacation with the family? Are you planning to spend most of your time outside to explore your destination all day? Or are you planning to relax at the pool and do as little as possible?

Picture: All-inclusive resort Beaches Turks & Caicos offers its guests a water park and 21 gourmet restaurants. All food and drinks are always unlimited, always included in your stay. When accommodation becomes the destination.

Typically, the main difference between resorts and hotels is in the amenities. Hotels cater to travellers who need a place to spend the night at a certain destination, resorts tend to be destinations in themselves. Resorts often have a more spacious layout, offering their guests everything they need in one place.

Below, we’ll break down the whole differences between resort vs hotel conversation in more detail to help you decide which would be most ideal for your next trip!

What is a hotel?

A hotel is an establishment designed with travellers in mind that provides sleeping accommodation. There are many different types of hotels and their offerings vary; some provide meals and other services for travellers including access to the spa, gym, and more.

Some hotels zero in on a particular clientele, like business travellers. These would typically include conference rooms, and rooms for special events though these have become more common features across the board for both hotels and resorts.

Hotels tend to be less private than resorts because of the square footage available to guests, but this isn’t always the case.

Some hotel properties may also be branded as resorts, typically because of added entertainment and recreational components, but in a lot of cases these experiences would differ from the offerings of a full-fledged resort. In most cases, hotels just don’t have everything you’ll need for a vacation all in one place as would be seen in a resort, so guests are usually left to venture off property for the things they need.

For some hotels, this isn’t an issue as they’re located smack in the middle of things, so guests can access the things they need with relative ease. Therefore, location is often key when choosing a hotel to spend the night at.

What is a resort?

Picture: Resorts often come with an extensive set of amenities, free of use to its guests. Beaches Turks & Caicos comes with Pirates Island Waterpark featuring a surf simulator, gigantic greysers, water slides and much more.

A resort has everything a hotel does and then some. It can be considered a destination in itself as at most resorts, you can literally find everything you’ll need for your vacation in one spot.

Food, drinks, entertainment, shopping, activities, a spa… you name it, and your resort more than likely has already made provisions for it. Resort experiences can vary and are often theme based. The activities at many resorts tend to depend upon the environment, like in the cases of ski resorts, resorts tucked away in a rainforest, or located on a stunning white sand beach.

Unlike hotels, resorts are typically positioned in rural settings offering a welcome escape from day-to-day routines.

What is an all-inclusive resort?

An all-inclusive resort typically includes lodging as well as meals, drinks, gratuities, activities, and other services.

Many all-inclusive resorts include sports, non-motorized waters sports, and a host of other things guests can get up to. Resorts are particularly great for families, as they often offer something for everyone. Some family friendly all-inclusive properties like Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean even come with a waterpark which kids and parents love.

The best part about all-inclusive resorts is that once you arrive, you won’t even need to carry around a wallet as your vacation is paid for in advance. That means no worries during your stay and no surprise bills at checkout! The all-inclusive resort experience with kids is one that every parent can appreciate, especially for the endless restaurant choices most all-inclusive resorts offer.

Did you know? Beaches Turks & Caicos is located on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, offers 21 restaurants on-property and features one of the largest water parks in the Caribbean! Now that is a great place for an all-inclusive vacation!

Resorts vs hotels: types of travellers

As hotels and resorts tend to offer entirely different packages, the type of traveller they attract tends to be different too.

Hotels focus on travellers in general. This can include business people, tourists, or people visiting family. The hotel crowd typically does not expect to be spending much time at their place of lodging.

Resorts appeal to vacationers. Many people book resorts for the sake of enjoying the experience being offered by that property. For some, their main reason for booking a vacation in a particular place is to be able to visit a particular resort. The resort becomes a destination on its own.

While hotels and resorts can seem similar at first, a closer look shows that each really caters to a particular type of traveller.

Resorts vs hotels: amenities

Resorts have it all as far as amenities go, and this is something savvy travellers know all too well. This usually isn’t the case for hotels. Resort amenities include things like restaurants, bars, night clubs, casinos, spas, shops among others.

Most resorts have a wide variety of restaurants and (swim-up) bars on property to cater a variation of cuisines during their guests’ stay. Resort grounds are often more spacious, often offering large swimming pools, beautiful gardens and a wide stretch of beach. Amenity wise, resorts typically have more to offer.

This works in the favor of those who would really prefer not to have to go hunting off property for the things they want during their well-deserved vacation, but it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity for guests who are planning to explore the surroundings all day and eat out every night.

Resorts vs hotels: activities

As most guests spend their time outside of the hotel, activities at the hotel can be limited to visiting the gym. However, the most popular properties are located near busy main streets, airports, and in other highly populated areas and therefore it usually isn’t hard to find things to do nearby. To help guests along, many hotels provide brochures in hotel lobbies which often feature nearby local activities, shopping centers, museums, theme parks, and other attractions.

Meanwhile, at resorts guests can enjoy a range of activities just steps away from their room. Guests often get the possibility to indulge in everything from mountainside explorations and amped up eco tours to beachside lounging with a world of water sports. Many resorts offer their guests an array of land sports to enjoy, like tennis, basketball, (beach) volleyball, golf and even bowling.

Again, this is fantastic for the guests who like to get a bit of activity in during their otherwise relaxing stay. However, all these extras are lost on the person who came to experience the direct surroundings.

Insider tip: Enjoy unlimited free bowling at adults-only all-inclusive resort Sandals Royal Barbados. Their bowling alley even comes with a craft beer bar. The best part? Beverages are included in your stay, and always unlimited. Now that is a vacation!

Resorts vs hotels: entertainment

At hotels and resorts, the quality of entertainment can vary depending on which brand you choose to stay with. Some hotels have good entertainment, and can also direct guests on where to go to find even more exciting things to do in the direct surroundings.

Resort entertainment tends to be on the grander scale, and it usually is a big part of the overall resort experience. There’s almost always something going on entertainment wise at resorts, from live musical concerts and talent shows, to themed events and cocktail parties.

Resorts vs hotels: lasting relationships

If making new connections is important to you even while on vacation, a resort might be the better choice. With the wide range of activities available at most resorts, chances are high you’ll find new people to connect with and even forge new friendships with. There’s less of a chance of this happening at a hotel, as many people are there for reasons other than to vacation, and aren’t likely to stick around for long.

Tip: Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean has created the perfect family getaway, with lots of ways you and your kids will be able to connect with new people on your vacation and make new friends.

Resorts vs hotels: which accommodation is right for you?

The answer to that question depends on what you’re travelling for, how long you plan to be there, and the sort of experience you’re looking to have.

If you’re just looking for a place to stay near the conference center downtown, or if you’re expecting to spend most of your time exploring the direct surroundings of the place you’re staying, then a hotel is probably the best option for you.

If you’re planning a long-awaited vacation with the family, or want to fully relax and plan as little as possible, then a resort will probably give you more.

Safe travels!

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!