All-inclusive resorts come in all shapes and sizes. How to find the right one?: Travel Weekly

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All-inclusive resorts have come a long way since Belgian entrepreneur Gerard Blitz introduced Club Med resorts to the world in the 1950s.

Today’s all-inclusive resorts span the globe and offer more services, accommodations, dining options, beverage choices, entertainment and activities tailored to specific audiences than ever before. .

Today, for example, the Club Med brand has grown to include resorts from Florida to the Caribbean, Mexico to Brazil, the Alps, Europe and the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Another pioneer of the category, Sandals Resorts International founder Butch Stewart opened Sandals Montego Bay in 1981, the first of the Sandals brand and the first all-inclusive resort for couples in Jamaica.

As it opened new resorts, Stewart continued to raise the bar with new features: soaking tubs, overwater bungalows, butler service, scuba diving and free snorkeling…the list s elongates again and again.

Sandals now has 15 adults-only resorts on six islands; three family resorts on two islands; and Fowl Cay, a private island resort in the Bahamas with six villas.

Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau is one of Sandals’ 15 adult-only all-inclusive resorts. Photo credit: Courtesy of Sandals Resorts International

The all-inclusive model evolved over the years, and eventually most major hotel companies introduced their own properties, drawn by the popularity and success of brands like Club Med and Sandals.

Independent hotels are also part of the mix, including Elite Island Resorts’ nine properties on four islands and in Panama; Ocean Hotels Group’s O2 Beach Club & Spa and Sea Breeze Beach House in Barbados; Jumby Bay in Antigua and Barbuda; and Serenity at Coconut Bay in Saint Lucia.

So how does a travel consultant sift through all of these offers to choose the perfect resort for a particular client? After all, what’s perfect for a couple’s getaway may not be suitable for a destination wedding or family reunion.

“All-inclusive packages aren’t one size fits all; you need to match the right brand and experience to the right customer,” said Helen Papa of Travel Boutique Hub Travel. “With the increase in travel requests, we are seeing a lot more requests across all options. For all-inclusive brands, the increase is primarily for multiple families traveling together.”

Nikki Miller of Travel With Nikki said: “I let my clients know that all-inclusive packages are perfect for sitting down and collapsing. I would point out that not all resorts are the same, that’s why there are so many different prices All-inclusive packages have increased in appeal to my clients who are not ready to cruise or are not vaccinated.

“Customers aren’t ready for Europe or Asia but are tired of being stuck at home,” she added. “They want to get away to recharge and be with others, but not too many others.”

The swimming pool area of ​​Club Med Turkoise in Turks and Caicos.  The all-inclusive model originated with the Club Med brand in the 1950s.

The swimming pool area of ​​Club Med Turkoise in Turks and Caicos. The all-inclusive model originated with the Club Med brand in the 1950s. Photo credit: Courtesy of Club Med

All-inclusive bookings represent 75% of Susan Peavey Travel’s business.

“I’m getting more and more requests for all-inclusive packages because they’re a convenient and economical way to travel, especially with Covid protocols,” said agency owner Susan Peavey, who encourages customers to leave the property and explore a bit. .

“I suggest that guests book excursions and tours,” she said. “It’s important to get out and see what the destination has to offer. Support the locals, buy local.”

“The hardest part is choosing between so many fabulous resorts, so we strive to narrow down the options to match guests with the resort that best suits their personality and preferences,” said Becky Schulze, Accent Travel Agency. “Of the vacations we sell to Mexico and the Caribbean, all-inclusive packages account for 80% to 85% of those trips.”

Schulze said the agency has never stopped receiving requests for all-inclusive packages over the past two years.

“It was one of the constant requests throughout the pandemic. People were reassured to know they would have consistent quality of service, health and safety options,” she said.

The Royal Uno All Inclusive Resort & Spa opens in Cancun this summer.

The Royal Uno All Inclusive Resort & Spa opens in Cancun this summer. Photo credit: Courtesy of Royal Resorts

Tips for the budget conscious

Angie Fanning of AwayBug Travel said, “I usually tell budget-conscious customers that the top three [all-inclusive] destinations are the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. If a client has a larger budget, wants something more off the beaten path, or has visited these destinations before, we will explore others.”

Nearly 30% of its bookings are all-inclusive. The agency is still getting requests, “but now they’re ready to start planning their biggest trips to places like Europe,” Fanning said.

Avoya network adviser Mary Smith said all-inclusive bookings accounted for 65% of her business.

“My clients love the ease of having everything booked through one provider and almost everything being prepaid,” she said. “It’s very important to pre-qualify the guest, because every hotel brand has a different vibe.”

Allison Amos of In the Know Experiences said, “My clients are looking to stick to a specific budget, want to relax without having to plan or make decisions. My advice is tailored to the client’s goals and budget.”

Calyco Travel’s Caryn Strayer Coomer said advisers need to do their homework before recommending an all-inclusive package. But customers also need to do their homework, she added.

“Not only do agents have to qualify their clients, but clients have to qualify their agent,” Coomer said. “Be sure to choose an agent who travels frequently and continues to learn, who is able to easily compare destinations and resorts, and who communicates the difference between two or three resorts in the same budget range. ”

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