All-inclusive resorts are the very definition of responsible spending, and the cachet of their beach locations is no longer a perception liability as much as it was a year ago. We’re betting a few days by a pool on a tropical beach is long deserved for both you and your attendees. Here are some new and recently renovated resorts, where your people can put their wallets in the hotel safe and leave them there.
HARD ROCK TRIO
Down in Mexico, the 601-suite Cancun Palace located on the beachfront hotel zone is gearing up for a spring unveiling as the newly rebranded Hard Rock Hotel Cancun. This partnership worked out well last year in the Dominican Republic at Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana. So much so, after the Cancun opening, Hard Rock and Palace are getting into bed two more times soon in Riviera Maya and Puerto Vallarta.
In Cancun, all of the “Rockstar Suites” feature double jacuzzis in the living rooms, plus private balconies and water views of either the ocean or lagoon. The hotel’s decor will change from calm creamy colors to snazzy shades of reds, purples and glittery stardust, with Hard Rock’s signature music memorabilia decorating the lobby, restaurants and bars.
“The Hard Rock is all about vibrant colors and the decor is tasteful but a little more flamboyant,” says Ginny Davito, vp of group sales for Palace Resorts. “The existing lobby bar will become a Brazilian steakhouse, and a bar will be incorporated into the hotel lobby. The steakhouse will be the newest of five restaurants on the property offering a variety of buffet style meals and a la carte seafood, Italian, Oriental and Mexican cuisines.”
The resort’s outdoor amphitheater will host an ongoing schedule of live concerts, celebrity-hosted soirees and other exclusive events. Davito says these happenings are open to meeting planners in advance for private group bookings, following meetings in the 12,400-sf conference center.
“People tend to network more in an all-inclusive setting because they’re not worried about the cost,” Davito says. “Especially on the incentives side, you shouldn’t have to pay to be treated like a winner. Even with decor and music, the planner doesn’t have to spend money because of the way the hotel is already set up.”
Also this summer, the 348-room Hard Rock Hotel Puerto Vallarta opens oceanside in Banderas Bay. In 2012, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya will incorporate two adjacent Palace resorts offering a combined 777 rooms.
“Clients love the warm hospitality in Mexico,” says Davito. “The fact that we’re rebranding three hotels means that they get to come back and experience the same value and warm hospitality, and get a whole new experience every time.”
Another Cancun rebranding, the sprawling 426-room Iberostar Cancun reopened in December following a $100 million renovation of the well-known Hilton. The resort is now fully all-inclusive—a big change for planners who know this important group property, which features the only oceanfront convention center in Cancun.
The resort offers five new restaurants including Mexican, Japanese, a steakhouse and a fine dining restaurant. A growing list of fitness and wellness activities has also been added, along with nightly entertainment in the newly-built theater. Catch the best of Broadway one night and sing along to the Beatles the next.
For large business conferences, the resort has 49,000 sf of meeting space inside and a whopping 60,000 sf of outdoor convention space for sunset cocktails and beachfront BBQs. We visited for an MPI event last year, and one of the events took place on the grand lawn with the breeze coming in off the sea. That volume of private outdoor real estate close a major hotel strip is not easy to find.
“Especially now that it’s all-inclusive and the value that planners find in that, it’s going to be a very exciting resort to consider when they’re looking for a location for any big event,” says Annette Carollo, director of groups/incentives.
She adds that, historically, the hotel’s group ratio is about 60% due to the convention center and business amenities, and all of the rooms have an ocean view.
“And, all of the activities and shopping and world class dining in Cancun is another strong selling point,” Carollo says.
Once the meetings are over, planners can organize golf tournaments at the resort’s private golf course, as well as large group events at the spa. Iberostar is the only hotel on the Cancun strip with both professional golf and spa facilities onsite.
SECRETS MARQUIS LOS CABOS
The 204-suite Secrets Marquis Los Cabos opened in November after parent company AMResorts took over operations. There are also 26 one-bedroom casitas with private swimming pools.
Secrets brings its brand standard “Unlimited Luxury” concept to Cabo, meaning: U.S. food brands, U.S. television channels, premium wine and liquors, no all-inclusive bracelets and no reservations required at any of the restaurants.
“Now that we are Secrets Marquis with the Unlimited Luxury concept, it becomes even easier because we have the know-how of AMResorts plugging into what meeting planners always wanted,” says GM, Ella Messerli. “Planners are looking for this all-put-together, no surprise program that will cost this amount per head, end of story.”
We’re digging the casita concept for small VIP groups.
“That’s always been an incredible selling point because you want everyone to feel special,” says Messerli. Those can be considered 26 presidential suites.”
The hotel caters to large meetings, hosting 700 pax in the largest ballroom. Their 2,000-foot beach also serves as a beautiful backdrop for outdoor beach parties, beach concerts and pool dinners under the stars.
Secrets Marquis is a Leading Hotels of the World with the only certified Leading Spa in Los Cabos. It’s large for this room count, offering 13,000 sf of serene seaside pampering.
We’re also curious about chef Thierry Dufour’s food. We’ve heard he’s a bit of a celebrity in those parts.