by Karen Galles
The evolution of all-inclusive resorts in a Cinderella story of sorts. For some time now, this vacation option was associated with mediocre buffet food, watered down drinks, sub-par accommodations, hidden charges, and lack-luster activities.
While none of this sounds astoundingly appealing, all-inclusive resorts offered the ease of flat-price payment. However, times are changing and so are many of the properties—now, visitors can expect revamped, luxury destinations with that same stress-free approach.
With bookings up 7% and nearly 300 all-inclusive resorts across the globe, it’s evident that interest in all-inclusive resorts is continuing to grow. "All-inclusives are no longer a niche market but are now a real category," Xavier Mufraggi, CEO of Club Med North America, told US News & World Report. "We're seeing incredible success in our expansions around the world, especially in China and Taiwan and expect them to be our second market next year. It's very engaging and exciting,” he added.
For more on international travel, go Around the World in Travel Trends: International Booking Preferences.
The NEW All-Inclusive Resort
Coming off the 2008 recession, the tourism industry is gaining back some lost ground, with all-inclusive resorts again becoming a choice option for travelers. Expansion beyond Mexico and the Caribbean and into the US, Europe, and beyond is also driving interest to the resorts.
These destinations, which used to target budget-conscious families and singles, are now spreading their sights on a vast array of travelers. This new approach is changing the experience and the culture of the resorts, which in turn are being viewed as ever more desirable.
Club Med pioneered this space in the 1950s, catering to singles in search of romance and/or a happening party scene. But industry trends hit even the most tried and true. Gone are the buffets of old–now guests can dine as though they’re in a top Parisian or New York eatery.
“Since 2004, we’ve really noticed more couples and families. Club Med used to be primarily singles, but now we see an entirely different skew. Over 70% of our guests are families, 20% are couples and just 10% are singles," Mufraggi said. "Plus, we’ve seen more affluent consumers and have since invested over a billion dollars in our resorts to renovate and move them to more four – five-star [properties].”
Family Friendly Options About
Families often struggle with logistics when planning a vacation, so it only makes sense that relaxation and a worry-free experience are often desirable. Not to mention an affordable vacation the whole family can enjoy. After working out school schedules and the family budget, putting everything aside can understandably be very appealing.
Those looking for fixed rates and a once-in-a-lifetime trip, are turning to all-inclusive resorts. Here are a few top destinations for the family that don’t sacrifice in indulgence.
Many resorts have shifted offerings, opening kids-and teens-only clubs to intrigue young guests. The venues are fully staffed and supervised, offering parents a chance to kick back and have some adult fun. Club Med, for instance, has partnered with Cirque de Soleil to bring circus entertainment and hands-on gymnastics training. The efforts have driven increased business from the multigenerational family market.
Find out how to Serve up Family Fun this Spring Break.
Being stuck on the property, much like a cruise ship experience, is also a thing of the past. Many resorts are looking to add a taste of locale by getting guests off their property and into neighboring towns or villages and historical or cultural attractions.
“We try to showcase and work with the schools nearby to really promote local artifacts. It’s a very important aspect. Want to make it more organic, more real. We want each place to be a symbol of the region – all the paintings are from the region and from local artists. We try to make it a different experience and bring the cultures a little closer,” Mufraggi said.
Millennials Re-Invent Their Parents’ Resorts
All-inclusive resorts have long related to older generations, specifically Baby Boomers. “This is what we often picture when we think of all-inclusive resorts: post-retirement parental units in sensible swimwear with a strong rum cocktail, protected from the booze-fueled ruckus of spring breakers, free to do the conga and ask for seconds at the buffet at all hours,” reported Metro, a free daily news publication in over 100 cities worldwide.
Clearly, this isn’t a picture that would resonate with most millennials. To attract these younger travelers, all-inclusive resorts are changing up their offerings and adding that cool factor that will catch this generation’s eye. In 2015, experts predicted a rise in all-inclusive resorts by 2017 that we are now seeing come to light.
Here are a few of the things all-inclusives are doing to spark interest in millennials:
- Getting off campus: Resorts are finding new ways to provide variety to their visitors, arranging excursions for off-property trips.
- Premium culinary offerings: Say goodbye to the buffet and welcome rotating chefs and exotic offerings.
- Boutique experience: These resorts are far from the standard. Visitors can now expect to find aromatherapies wafting, mini bars stacked and salon-quality products waiting.
See Mobile and Millennials: 4 Ways Hospitality Brands Must Accommodate.
There’s also the green factor, companies such as Sandals Resorts are giving back and this speaks to the younger generation. Through Sandals Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, there is support of local education and sustainability practices. “Everyone is benefiting from this,” Heidi Clarke, executive direction of the Sandals Foundation. Find out more in Making a Difference on a Volunteer Vacation.