“American Plan” Resorts: Historic All-Inclusives for Families

Although one might believe that “all-inclusive” resorts have only recently become popular, this is not the case. For generations, there have been “all-inclusive” resorts all over America, but they very subtly market themselves as “American Plan Resorts.”

I wasn’t familiar with the term until recently on a recent stay at Basin Harbor Club where I was able to speak with the owner. Through the discussion, it became apparent why these resorts typically date back a few years. Due to the extensive property, upkeep and expense to build private cottages along prime real estate — building an equivalent resort is simply cost prohibitive in today’s market.

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American Plan Resort Review

“American Plan” resorts are something like the old Catskill resorts that you saw on Dirty Dancing minus all the Hollywood drama. It’s a place where people come for generations. Some families spend the whole season there, while others come for “their week,” which is usually the same week year-after-year. So in addition to the lovely resort amenities and activities, you also have a sense of friendship and community that enriches the experience — something that does not happen at typical resorts.

It isn’t a forced, community table type of socialization, but rather a very elegant and welcoming sharing of a much-appreciated summer destination. At dinner one night there was a gentleman who had been there for 47 summers. Mind you, there were also plenty of families that were coming for the first time.

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These grand resorts hark back to an America of the past while catering to all that we need for the here and now. Besides Basin Harbor Club, the other “American Plan” resort that we went to was Manasota Beach Club. While the general age at Manasota was older, it was the same type of experience where everyone eats three meals a day together, guests make an effort to introduce themselves and welcome you with a sense of ritual and dignified tradition.

Each evening, you have to wear a coat and tie for dinner, kids too. Often times, these resorts serve as a way for grandparents, kids and grand kids to all travel together. There are tons of activities, coupled with delicious meals in a beautiful setting.

As an explorer by nature, it’s hard for me to commit to going to the same place each year, but my kids are now begging me to go back.

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What made it so nice was that they totally understood not just the kids, but families. From the physical set up of individual cabins, to offering a kids’ club at dinner so the parents could actually sit in peace for a meal to evening entertainment like campfires, storytellers, a talent show, and movies — Basin Harbor provided everything we needed to vacation together as a family.

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Truly, they thought of everything, even a Creative Memories picture frame customized with our photos and a farewell basket of fresh produce to ensure that we had something to eat when we got back home.

Need Help Booking an American Plan Resort?

We can help! Our Family Vacation Consultants can do everything from booking accommodations (both inside and outside of the CB! Hotel Collection) to developing full itineraries, including kid-friendly activities. Request assistance on My Trip Planner.

Photo Credit Nancy Solomon

Relevant Links:

Basin Harbor Club hotel review

Luxury kid-friendly travel by Ciao Bambino and Lexus

Best family-friendly vacation rentals

Hotel and resort kids’ clubs swimming safety

Best hotel and resort kids’ clubs

Top family-friendly hotel chains, North America Edition

3 Comments

  1. What an interesting post, I didn’t know anything about American Plan resorts, shame they’re missing the Hollywood drama!! 😉

  2. Hello:

    The majority of our vacations, we go to all-inclusive resorts with “American Plans”. The ones that we have been to include:

    Woodloch Resort in Hawley, PA
    Skytop Lodge in Candenesis , PA
    Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz , NY

    I would love to find more of them in other states to explore. However I can’t find a site that lists them in other states. When I go to sites like trip advisor or resortsandlodges, they don’t have a way to search for this term.

    In many cases the term “All-inclusive” for a resort does not include food.

    • Matthew-
      That is exactly the problem I have- where I have been unable to search for other places like this. We have gone to the Manasota Beach Club mentioned in the article, for 12 years with our family of 25, but want to know about other places for families with the American plan. (Manasota is fantastic, although simple, it has AMAZING food).
      I wish there was a website that listed places like this. (We also used to go to the Keeywadin Club off the coast of Naples, FL for years before they closed.)

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