It’s dusk, and it’s still warm enough to wear a sundress. In
fact, it will be warm enough to wear a sundress sans even a light
coat until the sun rises again for another day in Jamaican
paradise. I’m sitting at a table, toes in the sand, watching the
acrobatic adventures of the trapeze artists at Hedonism II. A
buffet filled with lobster, shrimp, jerk chicken, chickpea salads
and gorgeous dessert after gorgeous dessert is behind me, waiting
for me and my plate to dive in. This is John Issa’s dream,
30 years ago, John Issa invented the “No hassle holiday.” His
all-inclusive resorts celebrated their triple decade anniversary
with a blowout at Hedonism II in Jamaica and marked several
renovations on various properties.
Hedonism II named for the hotel it took over, whose nickname was
Hedonism has a special spot in John’s heart, as it’s the first
hotel he made all-inclusive. However, John’s not the only one with
a soft spot for “Hedo” as everyone calls it, Hedo has one of the
highest return rates of any hotel around, they have over a dozen
couples that have stayed at the hotel 50 times or more, and watch
out for a huge celebration in April 2007 when one guest is making
his 100th visit they will be naming a suite after him.
The all-inclusive idea is taken very seriously by Issa, and
hence by the hotel staff. John wanted a place where you didn’t have
to remember to “stick a few dollars in your robe to tip the guy who
pulls your beach cot out.” That being the case, no staff member
will take a tip, so that can be a relief for your clients who
constantly wonder how much and when to tip a staff member.
As innovative as the idea was 30 years ago to make a resort
where everything was included food, service, room Issa has not
become stagnant. He now has a few properties that are specifically
not all-inclusive, for those who want the SuperClubs experience
without feeling stuck with a menu or a preset number of days. Rooms
in Ocho Rio is one such property, and it celebrates its two-year
anniversary this month.
Several properties have been renovated, or are in the process of
being renovated. Breezes Runaway Bay is closed until this Christmas
so that 30 beachfront rooms and 48 veranda suites can be added.
Runaway Bay is also adding an infinity pool, new personal plunge
pools (on each veranda), new LCD flat-screens, a new lobby and a
new spa. The Grand Lido property is replacing all the bathtubs with
seven-head showers, Hedo is getting some new furniture and the
Bahamas Breezes is getting refurnished with Jamaican mahogany,
while Curacao is getting all new bathrooms.
The latest SuperClubs property is being built in Panama, as part
of a larger development. The property will be a Breezes and will be
welcoming plenty of new business as it opens in 2007.
Issa is also doing his best to head off any loss of business due
to the new passport initiative in January. At the Grand Lido Negril
property, for example, if Jamaica is the first stamp on a guest’s
passport, that guest will receive a $100 voucher for the spa.
With properties springing up, renovations under way and a wide
variety of clientele from the all-inclusive family resort to the
racy Hedo swingers weeks (in January and February) to the more
elegant couples resorts SuperClubs is catering to everyone,
including those who want non-inclusive vacations. It definitely
seems likely that these properties will be celebrating another 30