2022 is the year of all-round travel, and here’s why | local work

By NerdWallet French Sally

For some travelers, all-inclusive hotels conjure up images of bland food served under a heat lamp in lush, vibrant destinations where guests never leave resort grounds. Lower class wines flow freely (goodies will cost you more), as a few overeating discourage the trip.

This picture is changing, as hotel companies expand their offerings, while redefining the meaning of inclusion.

Hotels are growing all-inclusive brands

Many hotel companies are quickly adding all-inclusive resorts to their portfolio. Hyatt’s acquisition of Apple Leisure Group in November 2021 made it one of the largest owners of luxury all-inclusive resorts in the world.

The acquisition included luxury-focused AMR Group, which has beachfront properties in Mexico and Central America. This means that there are now more than 100 new resorts for visitors (and where World of Hyatt members can use their points), up from about a dozen.

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Marriott has also expanded its all-inclusive presence with the addition of 20 hotels under a new brand called “All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy.”

leans towards luxury

With these new all-inclusive offers, hotels are emphasizing luxury. All accommodations at Zoëtry Montego Bay Jamaica in Hyatt have an in-house concierge. Some of them have private pools.

“The Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts brand is all about exceptional amenities,” says Miguel Oliveira, Senior Vice President of AMResorts. “No check-in or check-out times, unlimited top-shelf spirits and 24-hour concierge.”

Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano said in a March 2021 earnings call that luxury rooms account for more than 10% of Marriott’s pipeline.

“Recreational demand has fueled the revival, and we are well positioned to continue growing our leadership in resort destinations, including high-growth inclusive spaces,” he said. For example, among the Marriott’s recent additions is the Royalton Antigua, where visitors can stay in Antigua’s only glass-floored overwater bungalows.

And while the rooms are luxurious, all-inclusive resorts are increasingly promoting activities outside the resort area.

Twin Farms in Vermont offers skis and fat bikes for use on their private slopes. The partnership with Volvo allows guests to explore the Vermont countryside by driving in the resort’s vehicles. Nightly rates sometimes approach $6000.

Baja Expeditions offers a luxury camping experience at the San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico. Guests stay in heated, windproof tents with en suite bathrooms, and take out on whale-watching excursions during the day. The four-day experience costs about $5,000 for two guests and includes a charter flight to the lake.

Rewriting the rules of the game

This year it offered travelers a different kind of all-inclusive experience when the Walt Disney World Resort opened Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. In its simplest form, it’s Disney’s “Star Wars” hotel, but it’s so much more than that.

“The Galactic Starcruiser experience is part dinner mystery theater, part high production show, part escape room, part video role-playing game, part cruise, and part resort stay — all rolled into one,” said Beci Mahnken, founder and CEO of Agency MEI-Travel.

Cost starts between $1,500 and $2,400 per person for two nights and valet parking. It includes activities such as lightsaber training and tickets to the theme park. It also includes specialties like pantha, a beef-based dish supposedly made from a fictional “Star Wars” monster.

Why is all-inclusive travel so popular?

For cost-conscious travelers, it can be worth it—while sometimes even more expensive—because it simplifies planning and budgeting.

When pricing an a la carte vacation, travelers have to factor in hidden costs such as mandatory gratuities and resort fees. Next, they factor in minor expenses like water bottles and parking. With inclusion, these expenses can be more predictable.

While Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is far from a budget vacation, Mahnken says that when you compare theme park tickets and single-priced meals to the cost of the all-inclusive experience, the $3,000 — while not exactly cheap — might be less steep. .

“Is it for everyone? No,” she says. “However, when you look at each element of the experience and what you will pay for each experience individually, the price is very good value.”

Even so, be sure to find out what’s covered when you book, advises Mahnken. Especially between cruises, it’s common to see similar rooms and itineraries at vastly different rates because some include tips, alcohol, and fine dining, while others don’t.

For some travelers, opulence and comfort may come in handy.

“The ability to prepay and not have any surprises or bill waiting for you at the end removes many of the aggravating factors of travel,” Mahnken says. “It’s easier for the budget.”

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