In 2015, Marriott International began exploring what adding all-inclusive properties to their portfolio would look like, including the repositioning of the all-inclusive stereotype. Today, the world’s largest hotel chain sees it come to fruition after launching its multi-brand all-inclusive portfolio platform in August 2019, followed by a period of pause during the pandemic.
“The idea of beach, beer and buffet is over, we’re wiping that way,” said Brian J. King, president of Marriott International’s Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) region, on the ingrained repertoire of all-inclusives, which Marriott reports as the fastest growing segment in vacation lodging. “The shift is from a value play to the epitome of experiences.”
The brand launched this platform throughout the Caribbean and Latin America because islands are the most popular requests for all-inclusive-seeking guests, according to King. Therefore, Marriott all-inclusive packages debuted with nine hotels across Costa Rica, Barbados and Mexico, with five hotels in the pipeline throughout the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Curacao and Brazil.
In February 2021, another 19 hotels were added to the portfolio under the Autograph Collection, expanding Marriott’s all-inclusive reach to Antigua and St. Lucia. And, this October, 20 more resorts were welcomed to the brand. The Autograph Collection is one of the eight of Marriott’s 30 global brands to be added into the all-inclusive category. The other brands are The Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection, Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels, W Hotels, Tribute Portfolio and Delta Hotels by Marriott.
“This is going to offer game-changing choices for these customers. They already come in with an expectation of what these brands are, and we’re going to take that up on steroids,” said King, who adds that while most all-inclusives offer a standard package of beer, booze and beach, or as King labels it, “a cruise on land,” Marriott plans to elevate all-inclusives and premium-ize the category. This includes packages tailored to families or different properties to engage guests in the most attractive activities but at an all-inclusive price. King said every all-inclusive property will be strictly dedicated to the offering.
“I like to say we’re all-in on all-inclusive,” said King, emphasizing the brand’s focus on new builds and conversions that will permit a wide range of activities and experiences. “There’s certain things that we can do with our brands today that will extend those brand signatures into the all-inclusive space.”
King mentions that guests are seeking something new over what they’ve always done, so an array of offerings will become the staple within the all-inclusive category. This includes curated food and beverage experiences, spa and retreat opportunities, as well as off-property experiences.
“Customers are looking to explore beyond-the-gate,” said King who explains his term for the shift in guests’ requests to get off property, other than the transfer to and from the airport. “We’ll be curating beyond-the-gate experiences, whether it’s tourism, local towns, or amazing things that you can do in the natural environment.”
Another trend that Marriott wants to cater to is multigenerational guests, of which King mentioned they’ve seen a rise in since the pandemic. For this reason, the all-inclusive brands will offer a variety of intimate spaces from adults-only pools to dedicated family areas and party areas like the W’s Wet Deck; King says you never want to feel crowded in an all-inclusive.
“There’s moments where grandma and grandpa are going to want to be at the adults-only section but they can come visit the kids in the family section, or vice versa,” said King. “It’s that choice and ease that people are really excited about.”
While the initial launch of Marriott all-inclusive predominantly covers the Caribbean and Latin America, King points out that guests are also inquiring about European destinations with all-inclusive offerings. King says that guests’ buying behavior typically considers the all-inclusive title first, then the destination second; he adds Marriott intends to branch out to Europe, and eventually Asia, to “open a whole new world of all-inclusive experiences for customers in parts of the world that they never considered.”
For Marriott Bonvoy customers, the all-inclusive category opens up all-new ways to reap the rewards and book a trip on points.
“I don’t remember, other than the Starwood announcement, in my 30-year career, more excitement about a launch of a new brand than our all-inclusive space,” says King, who references a recent company survey where 70 percent of participants indicated they are more likely to consider all-inclusive resorts because Marriott offers them.
The category includes new builds and renovations to ensure the properties are equipped with the aforementioned spaces and experiences for guests. In addition to the existing properties, 2022 anticipated openings include the new builds of Punta Cana Autograph Collection (650 rooms), Trelawney, Jamaica Marriott Hotel Al Amaterra (800 rooms) and Armar House W Cancun (675 rooms). Marriott teases on the latter that W Hotels all-inclusive will become Marriott’s “adult playground” while the Ritz will remain at the utmost high-end, and brands like Delta will cater toward families.