By Guy Britton
Marriott made its high-profile entry into the all-inclusive space in 2019 with its acquisition of the Barbados-based Elegant Hotels.
Now, the company has quickly become a power in the all-inclusive space in the Caribbean, with nearly three dozen all-inclusive resorts across the wider region and another 11 in the pipeline.
It’a sign of Marriott’s significant commitment to all-inclusive and of the wider import of the sector, which is arguably the hottest trend in the wider travel industry.
To learn more about All-Inclusive by Marriott and its all-inclusive push, Caribbean Journal Invest talked to Alex Fiz, area vice president for the Caribbean and Managing Director of All-Inclusive at Marriott International.
A couple of years ago, Marriott made a decisive move into the all-inclusive market. Why?
It is a segment that had been growing consistently and gaining popularity with a broader audience. Even before the pandemic interest was high and now, post-pandemic, travelers are looking for hassle-free, wide open space resorts even more. Marriott International had evaluated the entry into the segment for a while, and the topic was discussed and researched thoroughly
With the acquisition of Starwood in 2016, The Westin Reserva Conchal in Costa Rica became the first All-Inclusive resort for Marriott and expanded our perspective on the segment
?Now, 8 of Marriott’s world-renowned brands lend themselves to All-Inclusive extensions and especially our Collection brands offer opportunity for conversions
When the opportunity presented itself with Elegant Hotels in Barbados in 2019 it became a natural move to increase Marriott’s footprint in the All-Inclusive segment.
How many all-inclusive resorts is Marriott managing right now?
CALA currently has 30 exceptional All-Inclusive properties, located mainly in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Are there new Marriott all-inclusive properties and new projects in the pipeline
Yes, two exciting upcoming openings in the Caribbean include Sanctuary Cap Cana, a Luxury Collection Adult All-Inclusive Resort, a collaboration with Playa Hotels & Resorts which will bring The Luxury Collection brand to the Dominican Republic this summer, and Royalton Splash Riviera Cancun in Mexico part of our agreement with Blue Diamond Resorts and to debut in late 2022. And just last week (June 3), the Westin Porto de Galinhas opened in Brazil as the platform’s first resort in South America.
There are currently 11 MI AI projects in the pipeline, including several new builds in Mexico, the DR and Jamaica. We are constantly looking for new opportunities and evaluating options.
Which Caribbean markets are hot for all-inclusive development right now?
The Mexican Caribbean is a must mention as we see a great potential for the segment in the Mayan Riviera. Mexico represents the largest market for the All-Inclusive segment against any other country worldwide. Also Dominican Republic and Barbados as these have a lot business coming from the USA and Europe. Other islands include Jamaica and Curacao.
What is Marriott looking for in all-inclusive development partners?
Operational expertise that aligns to our own; Hotels with amenities that are well-suited to meet the demand; Focus on locally-inspired guest experiences and consumer appeal; Adherence to one of our 8 All-Inclusive world-renowned brands.
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels
Premium: Marriott, Delta Hotels, Westin, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio
Are some Caribbean markets better for all-inclusive resorts? Why is this?
Each Caribbean market is different but not necessarily better. Keeping in mind that hotels are operated by people and people do things differently in each country, however, our standards and promise of service remain the same.
Supply chains and import of goods to some islands can become a challenge for hotels. i.e. strawberries in Mexico or Costa Rica are much easier and cheaper to find whereas some islands in the Caribbean the costs and import times are higher, so some offerings may vary a little.
How have all-inclusive resorts changed Marriott’s overall product offering?
We have learned from our partners along the way while developing our AI offerings to guests
Our All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy platform guides our guests to choose their next ideal vacation in the best destinations.
Marriott International plans to further expand its all-inclusive portfolio in popular, leisure destinations worldwide with a mix of new-build properties and conversions of existing resorts, including properties currently in the Marriott International portfolio.
How does Bonvoy play into all-inclusive?
Marriott Bonvoy’s more than 164 million members can now earn and redeem points within our All-Inclusive portfolio and get a unique and seamless travel experience. The potential of our All-Inclusive hotels and our partners to reach to these growing traveling audience is huge. Our loyal members, that had never experienced an All-Inclusive resort, are venturing to try this product with us.
How does 2022 look right now and what does the future hold for all-inclusive resorts?
With three new hotels coming into our All-Inclusive portfolio this year, it is only the beginning of a robust expansion. Our guests are looking for more discerning experiences for their travels, more carefree without being careless, our All-Inclusive hotels can provide that. The fact that AI is hassle-free and limits surprises in terms of cost is another big draw for travelers, especially now when inflation is a global issue. The luxury hotels will play a bigger role within the region as an increasing demand for the luxury All-Inclusive product is taking place