by Jimmy Im
It’s not all about free meals and a salsa class anymore.
All-inclusive hotels and resorts are hot right now. In fact, they’re so popular, Starwood opened its first all-inclusive resort, Westin Playa Conchal in Costa Rica last May and, more recently, Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort in Panama in October. According to Trip Barrett, Vice President, Brand Management Latin America: “The opening of the 2 Starwood all-inclusive properties was in large part a response to demand for more vacation packages from our customers.”
All-inclusive resorts are generally booked for their tremendous savings and hassle-free vacations. But with the recession and various sites offering deep-discount deals on hotels with value-added packages, travelers want their money’s worth — and, well, they’re getting it.
This Saturday, Palace Resorts in Cancun is offering guests free tickets to see Enrique Iglesias, who’s actually performing on their property (blame it on the success of Palace Resorts’ first in-house concert last year with Shakira). Guests have priority to see Enrique live; discounted tickets are offered for all guests but those staying 7 nights receive complimentary passes (average ticket costs $300). Similarly, Grand Oasis Resort, another all-inclusive property in Cancun, is having a Dance U Festival. From Feb. 28 to March 31, the hotel has been bringing together a series of acts and parties from famous artists in electronic music, hip hop and dance, with a lineup that includes Kelly Rowland (March 23) and Pitbull (March 30). This is inclusive for all guests no matter how many nights they stay.
Other great all-inclusive perks that are even better than “premium liquor?”
The new Paradisus Resort Playa Del Carmen offers guests staying 4 nights or more complimentary dinner per stay to Passion by Martin Berasategui, the famous Spanish 7-Michelin star chef (this will also be valid at the 2 Paradisus properties opening in Punta Cana next month with Martin Berasategui restaurants). Guests who book Royal Service or Family Concierge (top level of rooms) receive a complimentary dinner no matter the length of stay.
The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia — relaunched after a $20 million renovation last October — is now including complimentary 50-minute massages every day and meal at Conde Nast Traveler Hot List restaurant Tao with the all-inclusive package.
Elite Island Resorts (6 beachfront all-inclusive properties in the Caribbean) is offering a $1,000 air credit for guests staying 7 nights ($600 credit if you stay 5 or 6 nights). Also, stay 7 nights and up to 2 children stay free.
The all-inclusive luxury Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana just opened a ski concierge service this past winter. With the all-inclusive rate, the service provides lift tickets, equipment rental, gourmet-packed lunch, transportation to lifts and experienced ski guides to accompany guests on the mountain. This is one of a kind, considering visitors to most ski lodges and ranches have to wait in lines renting equipment, get outfitted and pay separately for ski excursions (without an accompanying concierge, no less!).
Guests staying in top-level suites at Sandals Resorts will have access to a 24-hour private butler service. The butlers are all trained from the Professional Guild of English Butlers. Fancy that!