All Inclusive Vacation Planning & Tips

Three Questions For Top Travel Executives

It goes almost without saying that every vacationer has his or her own expectations when it comes to the ideal all-inclusive resort stay.

Yet what do the people whose job it is to create those experiences think? What do the top all-inclusive resort operators themselves consider to be the primary elements necessary to create the perfect all-inclusive experience?

I spoke recently with executives at four leading all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico to find out what they think the best all-inclusive resorts should offer in terms of amenities, facilities and services.

BM: What are the most important elements that an upscale all-inclusive resort should offer to its guests?

Adam Stewart, CEO, Sandals Resorts International: “They fall loosely into three categories: overall luxury in terms of experience and setting; unprecedented commitment to dining based on authenticity, choice and excellence; and finally customization.

“Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa reflects this best. This property is considerate of a luxury traveler who wants a fabulous destination, not far from the airport that sits on an amazing beach. Sandals LaSource has nine global gourmet dining options and the brand’s very first steakhouse, Butch’s Chophouse.

“Finally we offer many dining choices at each resort and elevated service programs with Club Sandals concierge and butler service.”

Frank Maduro, VP of Marketing, All Inclusive Collection/Hard Rock Resorts: “Clients are expecting more amenities, better quality and dedicated service. They have also come to expect unique amenities and programs for travelers of every age.

“At the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, we’re meeting these expectations with amenities like the ‘Sound of Your Stay,’ a free music amenity program, and ‘Music Lab,’ designed for kids of all ages. We also feature world-class entertainment with recent concerts including Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Enrique Iglesias and Lady Antebellum.”

Zein Nakash, Vice President of Marketing and Environmental Affairs at SuperClubs:  “Most important in the all-inclusive resort segment are more dining options and room categories. At Breezes Bahamas we renovated our main dining room and added two new dinner options for guests: Munasan, featuring customary Japanese cuisine with local bahamian flavors, and Reggae Café, offering ocean-side casual island cuisine under the stars.

“We’ve also introduced a deluxe beach front room category. Eight of our most luxurious rooms are now located on the first floor, facing the ocean, with walk-out-on-the-beach access through floor to ceiling glass doors. Each room has a stocked mini fridge and private cabana.”

Kevin Froemming, Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, Playa Resorts Management: “Customers’ expectations are evolving to include expect a higher level of service, more dining options, more sophisticated amenities, and outstanding personalized service. They are seeking brands that not only provide a great value, but deliver a five-star experience.

“At our Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara resorts we pay close attention to what our customers want, and surprise them by going a step further with our service-from-the-heart philosophy, our creative dining options, and our extraordinary facilities.

BM: What are the most important developments in the all-inclusive resort segment?

Gary Sadler, Senior Vice President of Sales, Sandals Resorts International: “To be frank, of all the trends affecting the marketplace, the one that we perhaps pay closest attention to is the depth of knowledge guests acquire before they visit our resorts. Guests are knowledgeable; they know what they’re looking for.”

Frank Maduro: “Upscale all-inclusives need to ensure the guest experience begins the moment they walk in the door. Guest rooms and dining are key differentiators for high-end property experiences. Room amenities need to trump what the traveler has at home and the dining must be at par with big-city restaurants.”

Zein Nakash: “The most important element an upscale all-inclusive should offer guests is personal attention.”

Kevin Froemming: “It’s the people that make a difference. It takes a special kind of service focused staff to notice the little things, like helping a child with his toy, or carry a guest’s plate of food from the food display, or simply smiling and placing a hand over the heart as a sign of welcome.”

BM: What separates your all-inclusive properties from those of other companies in the all-inclusive segment?

Gordon “Butch” Stewart, chairman, Sandals Resorts International: “We learned a long time ago that luxury happens on an individual basis. Treating guests as individuals and being attuned to their needs is really one of the things that continues to set Sandals apart.

Frank Maduro: “Our properties are extremely diverse and ensure each guest is immersed in the brand. From the state-of-the-art architecture to authentic rock ’n’ roll memorabilia, our properties are unlike any other properties in the world.”

Zein Nakash: “Our properties remain independent and family run, allowing us to keep a boutique approach.”

Kevin Froemming: There are many five-star, all-inclusive resorts in our destinations, but what elevates ours is that our top priority is 100 percent guest satisfaction. We aim to surprise, delight, and exceed their expectations of what a 5 star all-inclusive vacation can be.”