Singles dance classes are a popular activity. // © 2014 Barcelo Hotels and Resorts
For years, the all-inclusive resort product chugged along, content to offer basic services and amenities. Then, about 12 years ago, the market shifted as companies recognized that there was a demand for higher-level services. The quality of accommodations, dining and activities were upgraded as a result, until luxury all-inclusive resorts became a market norm. And today it seems there’s a third phase of renovation underway, one that responds to growing lifestyle trends.
Barcelo Hotels and Resorts has been in business for 80 years, and the brand recently completed a report focusing on common trends they expect competitors to implement across the entire all-inclusive industry. Here’s what agents are likely to see in 2015.
The Rise of the Solo Traveler
The all-inclusive resort is most often thought of as a choice for couples and families with kids. It can seem single travelers don’t fit into the mix, especially since they are often charged extra rates for traveling alone. But Barcelo’s all-inclusive properties have begun marketing specifically to the solo traveler.
“Just recently, Barcelo Hotels and Resorts’ signature all-inclusive resort complexes have introduced solo traveler-specific offerings such as dedicated singles weeks,” says Juan Perez, vice president of sales and marketing U.S. for Barcelo. “Other examples of activities that cater particularly well to the single traveler include group dance classes, where singles can pair with other single travelers, and an array of group-oriented daily programming.”
Barcelo’s Mexico and Dominican Republic resorts have incorporated healthful alternatives to cater to travelers with dietary restrictions, including gluten-free options at the buffet, low-calorie cocktails and vegetarian and vegan menus. Barcelo predicts this will become an industrywide way of doing business.
“Upon receiving confirmation of their stay, we suggest that guests alert the Barcelo property they are staying at of any dietary restrictions,” Perez says. “However, it’s always recommended that guests also review those specific dietary needs upon check-in at the hotel, so that our trained staff may assist with dining options that fit their requirements.”
Hyperlocal Welcome Amenities
For a while now, industry leaders have taken note of travelers’ increased desire for experiential travel. This demand is also present in the all-inclusive market, where guests are showing a preference for locally significant amenities. They also expect the same quality of amenities that they might receive at a boutique hotel. At Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, for example, bottles of Xtabentun, a local Maya honey liqueur, are offered to guests staying in the property’s club premium rooms.
New Approach to Seasonality
By offering great rates and special programming around Halloween and Thanksgiving, Barcelo Maya Beach Resort is attracting guests during what is traditionally thought of as the off-season for all-inclusive resorts. This makes the holidays an opportune time for clients to book a family vacation at a great value.
Given these growing trends, it’s rational to wonder if traditional interests, such as spa treatments and golf, are in decline.
“Not at all,” Perez says. “Our spa and golf offerings are as much in demand as ever, for all of our guests. Barcelo Hotels and Resorts keeps traditional activities fresh by adding new offerings periodically, staying current with what guests are interested in. For instance, we just introduced new fish spa treatments at Barcelo Maya Beach Resort. Being able to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment or a round of golf in a beautiful Caribbean destination is always going to be of interest to our guests.”