Offering the easy budgeting of a river cruise without the worry about water levels, all-inclusive pricing is proving an irresistible draw for customers of Caribbean resorts—and this month Marriott and Margaritaville both are jumping on the bandwagon.
Taking a page from the river-cruise playbook—and, no doubt, from Hyatt’s entrance into the all-inclusive market through its Ziva and Zilara brands—Marriott Caribbean & Latin America Resorts has begun offering an all-inclusive option for groups of 10 or more travelers staying a minimum of four nights.
Meanwhile, Margaritaville Holdings and all-inclusive resort operator Karisma Hotels & Resorts yesterday announced a partnership to develop and operate “Margaritaville, an All-Inclusive Experience by Karisma” resorts as early as next year.
The 40-year-old Margaritaville brand, named Jimmy Buffet’s iconic laid-back tropical hit song, includes restaurants and consumer products; its hotel arm has nine properties open and three under construction. (Coming in early 2018 will be a new mixed-use 300-acre property in Orlando, with a 12-acre water park, condo units, and 200,000 square feet of “festive retail space” across from Animal Kingdom—“you can own, rent, or spend the night.”)
Karisma has 26 properties in Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, under several brands, including El Dorado, Azul, Generations, Sensatori and Nickelodeon. Last year it partnered with Nickelodeon to open an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; another Nickelodeon resort is under construction in Mexico's Riviera Maya.
At Marriott, meanwhile, guests now can pay a single flat fee that includes three meals a day and drinks, commissionable to their travel agent, at nine Marriott properties in Aruba, Cancun, Grand Cayman, Los Cabos, Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallarta, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. The packages differ slightly by property; some also offer poolside snacks, spa discounts, casino credits and other perks. Groups must book by June 30, and the rates are not combinable with other promotions.
The Marriott option is available at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa, San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino, and Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino.
Last month, Travel Market Report reported on a similar program at the Hyatt Regency Aruba. General manager Joel Bunde said, “all-inclusive is just exploding in the group space, as it really helps customers plan the budget. I can't overstate its importance; close to 40% of our groups opt for some kind of all-inclusive, and many more inquire about it.”
Agents with whom TMR spoke seemed intrigued. "A Margaritaville all-inclusive product sounds like it would have great potential," said Camille Pepe Sperrazza, owner of TheWorldAwaitsTravel.com. "The brand has a loyal following."
"I would be extremely happy to sell these products," agreed Justin Wolfson, an independent travel consultant at Chubit Travel in Randolph, NJ. "Everyone knows Margaritaville and Marriott and once they hear All-Inclusive it's a quick sell!"
Though luxury clients do not traditionally want an all-inclusive product, offering the option will “certainly help hotels gain more business from a certain clientele,” said Ann Lewis of Just In Time Travel in Baldwin, NY. The question, though, is “at what price?”