The travel industry is under constant transformation: tours have become more unique and private, cruise lines are upgrading ships and itineraries to remain competitive, airlines have merged. One segment in particular has recently undergone some pleasantly surprising changes – the all-inclusive resort.
When the all-inclusive model began, it was generally preferred by those travelers seeking value and convenience. Today, many resorts are busting through the stereotypes that came with those early days (some true all the time, some true part of the time): typical not-so-great buffet food options, mediocre drink choices, hidden charges for activities and more.
However, recent years have seen the all-inclusive industry diversify across the globe and reach the height of luxury and boutique experiences comparable to their non-inclusive competitors.
One example of that diversity and luxury is resorts offering gourmet dining, award- winning chefs and locally grown produce. The Grand Velas in Riviera Maya is a luxury all-inclusive resort with chefs from France, Spain, Italy and Mexico who service eight restaurants on property. Its Cocina De Autor restaurant offers a 15-course experience of molecular cuisine and is the only one in an all-inclusive resort to receive a AAA Five-Diamond award (not just once, but twice).
In addition, many boutique resorts are all-inclusive, giving guests the desired resort size of 150 or less rooms and the convenience of only paying once. At Zoetry Chamela Costalegre Mexico, set to open in 2020, a modest 120 rooms are available along the secluded beach location of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Want an even more intimate all-inclusive resort? Hermitage Bay in Antigua has 30 individual suites on 140 acres of beach-side land.
Each all-inclusive resort is defining ‘luxury’ a bit differently. Unico in Riviera Maya is definitely doing something right. This adults-only resort has set a new standard for the all-inclusive industry. Guests are treated to their own personal Anfitrión, an upgrade from a traditional butler service. The Anfitrión serves as a local host providing an insider’s guide to the local scene, as well as assistance with reservations, tours, laundry and pillow service. For an agreed-upon upfront cost, guests can add unlimited golf, spa treatments, local tours and beauty salon services.
Many all-inclusive resorts gain their popularity by immersing their guests in the local cuisine, culture and excursions. Ikos Oceania, Greece is set on a private bay and offers a chance to explore the island on a bike, get on the water in a kayak or even take up Greek dancing. Club Med Avoriaz provides a family-friendly ski adventure in the Alps. From lift tickets and group ski lessons to hot fondue and pierrade at dinner, this resort is a hit for winter getaways.
For those heading south of the Equator, the Explora brand (found in Patagonia, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Easter Island) is known for its unique experiences. For instance, Explora Rapa Nui on Easter Island includes over 20 explorations, either on foot, bike riding or by boat. Guests can explore the history, landscape and places that aren’t even known by some of the locals.
Want to learn more about all-inclusive options for your next getaway? Email ErinG@PiqueTravel.com.