All-inclusive: Luxury all the way

Big-spending clients love all-inclusive holidays too, reports Katie McGonagle Like this and want more details? Click here to download and save as a PDF.

Big-spending clients love all-inclusive holidays too, reports Katie McGonagle

Like this and want more details? Click here to download and save as a PDF.

Bargain booze and buffet dining – if that’s all that comes to mind at the mention of all-inclusive breaks, you could be missing out on a huge swathe of bookings.

The term ‘all-inclusive’ covers a multitude, from bargain-basement breaks in the Med to the highest of high-end holidays in far-flung corners of the world.

Keeping costs down might be a factor in the former, but there are plenty of reasons why clients with bigger budgets opt for all-inclusive too: the convenience of enjoying gourmet dining without having to think about finding a restaurant; having a host of activities on hand and already included in the price; and never having to dip into their wallets to find the cash for a pre-dinner drink. For hassle-free holidays, all-inclusive is hard to beat, no matter what the budget.

It’s proving so successful that Kuoni expanded its all-inclusive offering across 14 destination brochures this year, after spotting three-quarters of its Caribbean and 63% of its Indian Ocean bookings last year were for this type of holiday.

As more top hotels tap into the trend, we find out what’s on offer for your luxury-loving clients, with all the answers you need to tackle questions about quality.

Provided you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, the news will have filtered through that Sandals has taken over LaSource resort in Grenada, its first acquisition on the island and the 14th property for the Sandals brand. Anticipation is high: 28% of all bookings on the first day of the resort operator’s ‘2-4-1’ sale were for LaSource, and it doesn’t even open its doors until December 12.

When guests start arriving, they’ll find a 17-acre resort with what are said to be some of the operator’s most elaborate accommodations to date: 231 rooms across Pink Gin, Italian, and South Seas villages, including 75 butler-service suites divided into millionaire, rondoval and skypool categories. Guests can choose from nine restaurants including a steakhouse, Butch’s Chophouse, and a vast array of activities.

That’s not the only all-inclusive news coming from the Caribbean.

Cap Maison in Saint Lucia has introduced two-for-one all-inclusive rates for bookings until December 19, costing $150 (£95) per couple per day on top of the bed-and-breakfast rate, plus 18% for service and tax. That includes lunch at the Cliff at Cap restaurant or Smugglers Cove Beach Bar, dinner from the Simply Maison menu, and unlimited soft drinks, house spirits, wines and cocktails by the glass.

For honeymooners, there’s an extra 25% off accommodation in ocean view villa suites which come with Jacuzzi (from £450 per couple per night), private pool (from £521) or rooftop terrace (from £621). All prices based on an all-inclusive stay of at least seven nights.

The happy couple can also enjoy luxury touches like champagne on arrival, in-room champagne breakfast, a couple’s massage, dinner for two on oceanfront deck Rock Maison, and a private sunset cruise aboard the resort’s own luxury motor yacht.

Similarly, The Inn at English Harbour in Antigua has added an all-inclusive supplement covering all drinks served by the glass except champagne and premium-brand spirits, plus breakfast, lunch and dinner (for bookings made by September 15 for stays before December 21).

It seems we Brits can’t get enough of package paradise the Riviera Maya. This region is seeing its fortunes soar with new properties being added and operators expanding their portfolio to cater for demand.

Opening just in time for the lucrative holiday season this December, the Hard Rock Riviera Maya is already proving popular for Funway Holidays thanks to separate adult and family sides, meaning it can cater for all ages.

Hayes & Jarvis has also brought on the five-star Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun for this summer, where the Unlimited Luxury package includes premium cocktails, gourmet restaurants, and a host of land and water-based activities.

Regional product manager Katie Parsons says: “We have seen a rise in interest in premium all-inclusive packages, with resorts offering extras like spa treatments, international-brand drinks and champagne, proving that the all-inclusive concept appeals to customers looking for a high-end experience.”

Secrets the Vine Cancun, which opened last summer, will also appeal to those with a taste for the finer things in life. It features a wine cellar with 4,500 bottles, and eight restaurants serving gourmet grub.

Don’t forget the properties that offer added-value too: Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya has an ‘endless privileges’ package which covers all meals as well as afternoon tea, premium-brand drinks, unlimited international phone calls and laundry, plus catamaran sailing, thalasso seawater spa treatments and green fees at a nearby golf course.

All Inclusive

It’s not just about the Caribbean: the all-inclusive wave is spreading to other high-end destinations.

In the Maldives, Centara Grand Island Resort on the South Ari atoll has an ‘ultimate all-inclusive’ package featuring airport meet-and-greet, champagne buffet breakfast, à la carte lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, sundowners and most drinks, plus a daily-restocked minibar, cruise excursion, spa credit and watersports.

Clients concerned about getting stuck in their resort can feel reassured by the latest initiative from Lux resorts. The new Lux it Up packages include a range of excursions within the all-inclusive price, tailored to each visitor. Travel 2 product manager Michael Creighton says: “The concept is designed to get guests to experience life outside the resort.

Activities [at Lux Le Morne in Mauritius] include swimming with the dolphins, kite-surfing lessons, a full-day excursion to the private island of Ile des Deux Cocos, a full-day catamaran cruise, plus spa treatments and signature meals, and even a lobster dinner.”

If further proof were needed that the all-inclusive concept is being rolled out to new markets, it comes in the form of Club Med Guilin, which opens this summer. This is the resort operator’s second foray into China, following its 2010 opening in Yabuli, and moves Club Med further towards its target of opening five resorts in China and making the country Club Med’s second-largest market by 2015.

UK managing director Laurent de Chorivit says: “Expanding into China is an important part of our global strategy, and we hope to attract new guests from the domestic market. However, the Guilin resort also gives British holidaymakers an easier way of discovering Asia. We expect Europeans to use Guilin as a stepping stone for exploring China and its rich heritage and culture, with the high-end, high-quality Club Med experience they have come to expect.”