We got together with Frank Maduro, v.p. of marketing for Palace Resorts‘ All-Inclusive Collection; Rafael Chapur, chief operations officer of the All-Inclusive Collection; and Sandor Winkler, chief operations officer of Palace Resorts, for a Q&A to find out all about the new Hard Rock venture in Mexico.
Taylor Harker: What inspired the collaboration between Hard Rock International and Palace Resorts? How did that all begin?
Rafael Chapur: We want to differentiate Palace properties in the Cancun resort zone…. We love the Hard Rock experience, we love the energy, we love what the client brings, so we wanted to include that standard and that experience on property. The All-Inclusive Collection was created to handle the sales and marketing of these properties, which are the world’s first-ever all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels.
TH: If I understand correctly, there is already one all-inclusive Hard Rock property—the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. When will these new Mexico properties complete the rebranding process?
RC: Cancun Palace is being rebranded into Hard Rock Cancun, to be complete around mid-June. Vallarta Palace, to be rebranded as Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, should also be done around the same time frame, while Aventura Spa Palace and Aventura Cove Palace will be rebranded together as Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, to be complete late-December or early next year.
TH: And how do you see the Hard Rock name changing the hotel landscape in Cancun?
Frank Maduro: Hard Rock brings something to the table that most all-inclusives don’t bring—it’s unexpected. What we’re doing now will really elevate the status of all-inclusive hotels. With the things we’ll offer being so unique, it’s really going to put the pressure on at other properties.
TH: Alright, so tell me about these unique all-inclusive amenities you’ll provide.
FM: Well, one of the big differences between the Hard Rock and any other property is obviously the whole vibe, the look and feel of the property, ranging from the memorabilia collection at each hotel—which is almost like a music museum—to entertainment at night. Obviously, music is a hugely important component of it, so right now we’re doing something that’s called Sound of Your Stay, where basically if you stay at a Hard Rock all-inclusive and you decide you want to check out one of our Fender guitars and take it up to your room with a pair of Ludacris earphones, then that’s something you can do. Or, you can check out a mixing board and take it to your room for the entire week of your stay, and learn how to mix music. Also as part of the Sound of Your Stay program, when you check in you can download the songs that are being played throughout the entire property, free of charge, so when you get back home you can actually relive your vacation through music.
TH: And what exactly does all-inclusive actually include?
FM: Our all-inclusive package will include all meals, drinks, activities, Internet, long distance phone calls, 24-hour room service, gratuities and taxes. And we don’t take those meals lightly—it’s a la carte, no reservations required, with themed restaurants.
Then we also have the $1,500 resort credit, which adds on to the all-inclusive experience. We are the only hotel chain that offers amenities as part of your vacation, giving guests from $500 up to $2,500 in resort credit when they stay three nights or longer, to be used for outside tours, spa services, golf, room upgrades or private dinners on the beach. The resort credit offer provides a whole array of things that you’d have to pay for at a traditional all-inclusive, but at Palace Resorts and the all-inclusive Hard Rock, now it’s part of your stay.
Plus, we now have famous wedding designer Colin Cowie designing our wedding and honeymoon packages, so a bride looking to have a destination wedding—a huge trend in the U.S. and Canada—can now look at Palace and Hard Rock and can align themselves with a world-class designer for unique packages that can only be found at our properties.
TH: How about activities? What can guests of the all-inclusive Hard Rock properties do when they’re not filling up on all of those inclusive food and drinks?