Sign Up for Our Monthly Mexico Newsletter
It’s a big decision to make the switch from European Plan (EP) to all-inclusive. But in October, some 35 years after it first opened, Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta officially added the words “All Inclusive & Spa” to its title, marking a major conversion and also hinting at one of several new facilities offered at the revamped hotel.
Like any business strategy, the bottom line played a major role in making the decision, according to Michael O’Farrell, the hotel’s director of sales.
“The big tour operators from the U.S. all said to us, ‘We’ll be able to sell you better when you’re all-inclusive,’” he says. “And they’ve proved themselves right.”
Indeed, after a slow first month as an all-inclusive property, O’Farrell says bookings are now strong for the months ahead.
“October was a disappointing month because we were still getting the word out to agents,” he explains. “But looking ahead, we’re having a very good December, January and February.”
To top off the change, a new logo for the property has been unveiled, and it will be gradually introduced at all Fiesta Americana hotels throughout Mexico.
The Puerto Vallarta switch is the latest — and probably the last — of the Fiesta Americana hotels to make the conversion to all-inclusive, according to O’Farrell. The company’s strategy is to keep all of the brand’s urban and interior hotels on the European Plan, while positioning all but two of the beachfront properties as all-inclusives.
The two beachfront hotels that will remain EP are Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa and Fiesta Americana Villas Acapulco. The reasoning for keeping these properties as they are, according to O’Farrell, is twofold: Coral Beach has had great success as an EP hotel, partly because of its location near many restaurants in the Punta Cancun area, and the Acapulco property will stay EP because it gets most of its business through the Fiesta Americana Vacation Club, a long-term vacation membership.
New Offerings On-SiteTo bring the Puerto Vallarta property in line with what travelers expect of an all-inclusive resort, Fiesta Americana is spending some $5 million to add new features and upgrade existing ones. Dining options have expanded from the former three restaurants to 11 different dining options spread among various venues, none of which require reservations. Among the new a la carte restaurants are Tiantang, which serves upscale Asian cuisine, El Mexicano, which focuses on traditional Mexican dishes, and Rosato, which specializes in Mediterranean food with an Italian focus. Room service is also included with the all-inclusive rates. Since guests who booked before the conversion can still opt for the European Plan, prices still appear on most menus, but those dollar-and-peso references will disappear by April, according to O’Farrell.
Families now have more options at the hotel as well, thanks to the recent opening of Fiesta Teens Club, which is free for children ages 13 to 17 and serves as a complement to the already existing Fiesta Kids Club, which serves children ages four to 12.
Among the largest of the new features is Nakawe Spa, which is connected to the recently expanded fitness center. The spa features attractive decor and outdoor walkways with lush landscaping that lead to seven treatment rooms, each of which has its own private, open-air shower. The spacious couples’ treatment room also has a private Jacuzzi.
Scheduled to open before the end of the year is a brand-new, 200-seat theater, which will host live weekly shows of tropical-, Caribbean- and Mexican-themed music and dance.
In addition, the lobby bar has been redecorated, and plans call for furnishings in guestrooms to be replaced over the next two years, according to O’Farrell.
Even with all the changes, the conversion has been “surprisingly not that complicated,” he says. “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, but it’s seamless to the guests.”