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HomeTravel$22,000 per week? All-inclusive resorts go big to win over luxury travelers

$22,000 per week? All-inclusive resorts go big to win over luxury travelers

All-inclusive hotels are making a big play for luxury travelers.

In the wake of the pandemic, demand for all-inclusive resorts skyrocketed, according to a report by JLL Research Hotels & Hospitality. Travelers — suddenly and en masse — wanted vacations that were stress-free and easy to plan, ideally with a wellness component, according to the report.  

It was then that travelers discovered that the all-inclusive resorts of the past — known for bottom-shelf booze and quantity-over-quality dining — had changed.

Much of the sector had gone luxe.

As of 2022, the percentage of “upper upscale” and luxury resorts in the Dominican Republic was 47% of total all-inclusive resort supply — up from 31% in 1990, according to JLL. The numbers are even higher in Mexico, where upper upscale and luxury all-inclusive resorts accounted for more than half (55%) of its all-inclusive resorts in 2022.

Rates at all-inclusive resorts— once known as a relatively inexpensive form of travel — are up too, rapidly surpassing 2019 levels, according to JLL.

Marriott and Hilton have also expanded into the sector, under brands travelers may not normally associate with all-inclusive resorts— from DoubleTree to Westin and The Luxury Collection.

Private beaches and butler services

Resort operators have upgraded the all-inclusive experience with everything from grander suites to special resort privileges.

Guests at the beachfront Lopesan Costa Bávaro Resort Spa & Casino in the Dominican Republic can opt for a “Unique” room at the resort, which comes with an upgraded room, personal butler and access to a private beach. 

“We are seeing more and more guests traveling for a slow, unplugged experience with an upscale twist,” said Karina Arguello, the resort’s commercial director. “In addition to elements that you receive by booking an all-inclusive resort, private and additional amenities help to elevate that experience.”

The beach club at the Lopesan Costa Bávaro Resort Spa & Casino in the Dominican Republic.

Source: Lopesan Costa Bávaro Resort Spa & Casino

Club Med introduced “Exclusive Collection Spaces” in select resorts that grant additional guest benefits, such as private transfers, in-suite continental breakfast, Champagne in the evenings and, as the name implies, access to exclusive spaces in resorts. One of these, Club Med Tignes, is a ski resort near the Italian border that opened in 2022.

The brand also has six resorts — in the Maldives, Mauritius, Italy and France — that make up its “Exclusive Collection.” Rates at its Valmorel Chalet-Apartments, a ski destination in France, start at $2,475 per person in June, and climb to $4,250 per person in December, according to its website.

Club Med Tignes, located in the French ski resort of Tignes near the Italian border, opened in 2022.

Source: Club Med

Sandals, an all-inclusive adults-only resort operator in the Caribbean, provides butler service for its highest levels of suites. Butlers will unpack guests’ belongings, make dinner and spa reservations, serve drinks at the beach and expedite room service orders, according to its website.

Travelers with bigger budgets are opting for those services, said Kelly Connor, a New Jersey-based travel advisor with the AAA Club Alliance. But they’re not alone.

“Honeymooners … like the higher levels of luxury” too, she said.

Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which opened in March 2024, introduced a new room category for the brand — the 1,248-square-foot Vincy overwater two-story villa. A seven-night stay at the end of June for two adults with butler service is $22,505 —and that’s after a 55% rack rate discount.

Opened in 2024, Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the brand’s 18th all-inclusive resort.

SourceL Sandals

To combat the critique that all-inclusive vacationers don’t see much beyond the resort, the Sandals Royal Curacao and Sandals Royal Bahamian is providing guests who stay a week in a butler-serviced suite with a $250 voucher to dine at restaurants around the island. They’re also provided with a convertible Mini Cooper to get there.

Another option: luxury lodges

Half- and full-board dining options have long been popular in places like the Maldives, whose one-resort-per-island model makes it difficult to eat elsewhere.

But luxury resorts, many located in remote locations, are opting for all-inclusive models as well.

Rosewood Cape Kidnappers, a luxury lodge on New Zealand’s North Island, provides a half-board option for guests, which includes breakfast, dinner and aperitifs, but excludes other alcoholic drinks.

Rates at British Columbia’s Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge include all meal and snacks, plus wine, beer and spirts. A stay in one of the lodge’s 25 tents also comes with guided activities, such as swimming in glacial waters and a half-day wildlife-spotting trip, according to the website.

Rates start at $2,900 per night.

— CNBC’s Monica Pitrelli contributed to this report.

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