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Tour guide: top 10 travel resorts for warm-weather escape

Doug Stallings, a senior editor, explores warm-weather escapes, shares with Kathy Baruffi for USA TODAY some travel resorts that offer bang for the buck.

Almond Beach Village
Heywoods, Barbados
This 32-acre family-friendly resort set on a former 18th-century sugar plantation, has a soft-sand, mile-long beach. Included in the rate: golf, sailing, waterskiing, off-site picnics and more, making it “one of the island’s best values,” Stallings says. 800-425-6663;

Excellence Punta Cana
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
“This adults-only lovers’ lair exudes romance,” Stallings says of the all-suites resort.

Included is one horseback ride a visit. “If you prefer to simply relax by the lazy-river pool or on the beautiful stretch of beach, both have waiter service,” he says. “And it’s not just well drinks here; premium brands are poured at the bars.” 866-540-2585;

Amelia Island Plantation
Fernandina Beach, Fla.
The golf, tennis and spa facilities are big draws at this sprawling, family-oriented resort where accommodations range from hotel rooms to three-bedroom villas. “If the sound of waves crashing on the beach doesn’t lull you to sleep, the pillow-top mattresses should do the trick,” Stallings says. “With its ancient oaks, marshes and lagoons, it is also a worthy destination for hiking, biking and bird-watching.” 866-213-8045;

Mawamba Lodge
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
“Located between the Tortuguero Canals and the Caribbean, this is also the only jungle lodge within a 10-minute walk of town,” Stallings says of this family-friendly hideaway. “For the all-inclusive experience, buy a package tour for comfortable (hot water!) rustic rooms and garden views on the 15-acre site.” Meals are served in the spacious dining room. Also included: transfers and guided tours of the jungle and canals. 011-506-2293-8181;

Aventura Spa Palace
Riviera Maya, Mexico
“The stunning grounds of this adults-only resort on the Riviera Maya have a meditation pond, yoga hut, labyrinthine Zen path and botanical gardens,” Stallings says. Facilities include an indoor pool with sound therapy and coves for snorkeling. “The rooms are a deal, and breakfast is delivered to your door,” he says. 800-635-1836;

Presidente InterContinental Los Cabos Resort
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
“Cactus gardens surround this low-lying hotel, one of the originals in what has become a lineup of massive all-inclusives along the beach,” Stallings says of this resort where the staff caters to families. “The ground-floor rooms, which have terraces, are the best. Make sure you try Napa, the property’s top restaurant.” 877-580-2945;

Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
“Dramatic views of the gorgeous, rock-edged beach are just one reason that this all-inclusive is special,” Stallings says. “Theme nights go all out, with salsa dancing classes, reggae and circus nights, and for sports night, ballgames with hot dogs and beer, and movies on the beach. There are tons of activities for both kids and adults.” Another bonus: No wristbands are required. 866-237-3267;

Club Med Columbus Isle
San Salvador Island, Bahamas
“One of Club Med’s most relaxing Caribbean resorts has excellent food, nice rooms and a beautiful beach,” Stallings says of this all-inclusive where kids 3 and older are welcome. “Activities include group sailing and windsurfing lessons, fitness classes, tennis and water sports.” Watch for frequent deep discounts, he adds. 800-258-2633;

Couples Swept Away
Negril, Jamaica
“The sports facilities here are among the best in the Caribbean,” Stallings says. Rates include fitness classes, snorkeling cruises, tennis, golf and scuba diving, plus transfers, gratuities, premium drinks and even weddings. As its name implies, it’s a couples-only resort. 800-268-7537;

Body Holiday at LeSport
Cariblue Beach, St. Lucia
The adults-only resort is ideal for “those who like to indulge body and soul,” since spa treatments (except on arrival and departure days), along with myriad fitness classes, are included in the rate, Stallings says. And Tao, the resort’s upscale restaurant, is “one of the island’s finest.” 800-544-2883;

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