With Playa Hotels & Resorts debuting several resorts in the Dominican Republic this year, we thought we’d sit down with Kevin Froemming, executive v.p. & CCO, to get the scoop on the evolution of all-inclusives.
Speaking to Kevin Froemming, Playa Hotels & Resorts’ executive v.p. & CCO, you get the impression that the all-inclusive segment has no boundaries. He believes we are only at the beginning stages of the all-inclusive phenomenon. “Playa Hotels & Resorts got in on the early days. We saw there was a huge void for name brands in the all-inclusive market; besides Sandals, you really don’t have consumer brands that are all-inclusive. The concept for Playa was to partner with Hilton and Hyatt because all-inclusives are still not mainstream,” and they realized, after conducting a study, that the majority of loyalty guests for these brands had “never experienced an all-inclusive resort in their lifetime…some because they had a negative perception.
“And now you are starting to see major growth in beach destinations, and all of the growth is in all-inclusives, with even traditional beachfront EPs converting, and now Marriott getting into the mix.”
Froemming adds that while all-inclusives started out as pure value back in the 70s/early 80s, and “even somewhat into the 90s, now the bulk of all-inclusives is in the four-and-a-half- to five-star area. What we are delivering with Playa is some of the best services and product.” For example, at the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, opening Nov. 1, the onsite Hindu restaurant is located within a remodeled train car, and, Froemming says, it’s a “five-star experience.”
Today’s all-inclusives, he says, have to deliver top-notch service to stay competitive. “One of the things that we are really proud of is our staff, and I think the thing that sets us apart from other hotels is that we make sure that the people serving our guests are engaged with our guests.
“It’s all about having satisfied customers, and to do that you have to create consistency in your major deliverables. Food and beverage has to be spot on; you have to have a diverse array of restaurant choices; and, as I mentioned, what we are really good at is delivering personalized service. I think people want to buy an all-inclusive vacation, but they want to tailor it; they want to make it special, so having unique options” is important.
He points out that travel agents have to keep in mind that guests are no longer satisfied—especially in the four-and-a-half- to five-star space—to come down and just stay on property. They are looking for an overall experience that includes activities at the resort as well as tours to discover and experience the destination. “That’s where the biggest change in the all-inclusive marketplace has focused—it’s about an adventure; it’s about sharing those experiences.”
An Experience for Every Traveler
Set to open Nov. 1, the Hyatt Ziva & Zilara Cap Cana complex, says Froemming, “will be on the best beach in the Caribbean, beautiful white sand. On the family-friendly Ziva side, we have a water park with a lazy river,” and on the adults-only Zilara side there’s an ornate Tahitian restaurant set on black bottom pools with a menu served on floating basket pods. The properties will share a 14,000-sq.-ft. fitness center with an industrial boxing gym and dedicated yoga studio, as well as an underground, cenote-looking spa.
The Sanctuary Cap Cana, meanwhile, underwent a $45 million renovation, with all suites redesigned, and the addition of two buildings—increasing the room count by 140 rooms for a total of 325, a new lobby and a complete upgrade of the 20,000-sq.-ft. Sanctuary Spa and fitness center.
And the Hilton La Romana, All-Inclusive Family Resort, opening its doors on Dec. 1, will complement newly opened Hilton La Romana, An All-Inclusive Adult Resort.
“I want to be known for one thing,” Froemming says, and that’s “consistency of our products…that we exceed our customers’ expectations.”
Playa Hotels & Resorts: playaresorts.com