The Evolution of All-Inclusive

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Zöetry Agua Punta Cana sits on a secluded beach outside of Punta Cana, with architecture and decor evoking a deserted island feel. Its 1- to 3-bedroom suites with thatched roofs feature hardwood floors and stone accents, all set along 600 ft. of private beach. Golden Bear Lodge & Spa Cap Cana, meanwhile, lies within the upscale enclave of Cap Cana, offering access to its golf courses, marina, restaurants, bars, etc.—more of a resort village experience than a secluded hideaway.

Further proof that all-inclusive is an ever-viable, ever-expanding market in the Dominican Republic: even resorts that normally offer EP rates are going all-inclusive when they enter the country. The latest example is the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, which has collaborated with Moon Palace Resort to merge the all-inclusive concept with Hard Rock’s signature “rock star” amenities and design. Slated to debut in the spring, the 1,800-room resort still boasts the VIP-style amenities that clients find in other Hard Rock properties—double jacuzzis, double showers, swim-up bars and an expansive Body Rock fitness center, for example. But clients can also enjoy the convenience of leaving their wallets behind as they dine, drink and enjoy entertainment—the best of both worlds. Zoetry Agua rates start at $374 pp per night; Golden Bear Lodge rates start at $244 pp per night.

cayman islands The evolution of the all-inclusive concept in the Caribbean has introduced not only new services and amenities, but new destinations as well. In the Cayman Islands, the idea of all-inclusive vacations are just beginning to catch on. Though a few resorts have operated there as all-inclusives for years, The Reef Resort is the first on the island to offer a modern alternative to what director Tom McCallum describes as “pretty basic” offerings—buffet dining, well drinks, etc. In a destination as developed and upscale as Grand Cayman, McCallum says, they just aren’t “all-inclusive as you’d think it would be done in Cayman.”

Recognizing that gap in the market, The Reef began offering a Simply All Inclusive package that includes three meals daily and all drinks included. The Reef is set in the eastern part of the island, sheltered, in a way, from George Town’s busy cruise port and the strip of resorts lining Seven Mile Beach. The combination has been a huge success, McCallum says. “Last winter, the Simply All Inclusive plan really resonated. We had nearly half of our guests taking that option,” he says.

So how does a relatively new all-inclusive market compete against the likes of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic? It’s simple, McCallum says—offer an all-inclusive product just as good or better than any other, and let the uniqueness of the destination speak for itself. “Even within [Jamaica and the Dominican Republic], the all-inclusive market is already segmented into cheap and cheerful, and more luxury-minded and focused on convenience and service,” he explains. “Cayman certainly can fit into that second segment, and The Reef has successfully innovated in this area.”

The Reef’s newest integration is its Barefoot Beach Guarantee. Clients booking a beachfront room at The Reef are challenged to find a beachfront room at a full-service hotel or condo anywhere else on Grand Cayman for a lower price. If they do, The Reef will match that price. And for your trouble, they’ll also throw in a dinner with the Barefoot Man, a local musician who plays exclusively at The Reef. But don’t hold your breath for that dinner. With rates for oceanfront rooms starting at $230 per room per night at The Reef, it’ll be hard to find another offer that qualifies.