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The all-inclusive product throughout Mexico and the Caribbean has been refining itself for decades; it now bears little relation to the limited offerings of the 1980s. And although it’s still possible to find all-inclusive resorts offering bare-bones basics, in most cases, luxury is now the name of the game. This is certainly true of Hard Rock Hotels’ collection of all-inclusive resorts, as it has transitioned from its earlier incarnation as Palace Resorts properties.
During a recent stay at Hard Rock Hotel (HRH) Riviera Maya, I saw firsthand how the company is developing varying levels of luxury within a single property. I was booked into the Rock Royalty Level, which really elevates the guest experience.
Rock Royalty Level is a concierge-level program providing VIP treatment and benefits. In my case, it began upon arrival, when I was greeted by my “Personal Assistant,” who functioned as a butler, but without the formality of one. I preferred this lack of formality, and I suspect many guests from the U.S. would also find it welcome.
In my room, my personal assistant took my preferences for aromatherapy, which ranged in choice from energizing to relaxing scents. The assistant facilitated my choice from the room’s pillow menu, then escorted me to Le Petit Cochon, the restaurant hosting my dinner that night. I was supplied with my personal assistant’s phone number so I could request additional services, which could include reservations on and off property, advance preparation of my in-room spa tub, a complimentary shoeshine, a 25-minute couples massage and ironing service.
The room itself was spacious and had a stylish, high-contrast color scheme utilizing lots of black, white, silver and blue. There were many in-room perks, including a bottle of wine, a single-cup Melitta coffeemaker using coffee pods, a minibar with complimentary snacks and drinks, plenty of bottled water, nightly petit fours, a loofah and a complimentary beach bag. The hammock on the balcony is also a nice touch.
HRH Riviera Maya is divided into two main sections: Hacienda, the family section; and Heaven, the adults-only section, where the Rock Royalty Level accommodations can be found.
There’s a distinct difference between the two sections of the resort. At Heaven, things unfold at a sophisticated level, with a South Beach-Las Vegas vibe. Heaven contains the signature Rock Spa, which has 75 treatment rooms, and Club Heaven nightclub, which offers private booths and bottle service.
In the Hacienda section of the resort, the pace is more frenetic and lively, given the abundance of young kids and teenagers. Adults get the better part of the deal, since they can move freely between the two sections of the resort, while kids are limited to the Hacienda wing.
While Rock Royalty Level accommodations cost more, given the current devaluation of the Mexican peso, these pricier accommodations will be in reach of a greater number of travelers from the U.S.
In just one year, the exchange rate went from 12 pesos to $1 to 17-plus pesos to $1. It doesn’t take a math genius to see that a traveler from the U.S. has a tremendous increase in buying power when it comes to vacations in Mexico. This presents an opportunity for travel agents to upsell without resorting to the hard sell.