Major Hotels Are Going All-In On All-Inclusive Resorts

While airlines seem to have scrapped all complimentary amenities beyond a cup of water and a tiny pack of pretzels, the biggest names in the hotel industry are actually shifting away from the à la carte model.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts this week announced an alliance with Playa Hotels & Resorts, which owns and operates dozens of all-inclusive resorts in destinations like Mexico and Jamaica. And it’s just the latest hotel chain taking a much greater interest in the flat-fee format as Covid has shaken up the travel industry.

The Suite Spot

All-inclusive resorts are not a new concept. From Cancun’s beaches to the Rocky Mountains, vacationers have for decades happily doled out one payment to cover everything necessary for a pleasant stay — a room, activities, three meals a day, and unlimited cocktails with little umbrellas in them.

Some of the biggest names in hospitality — perhaps too enamored with the margins on their exorbitantly-priced minibars — have been slow to adopt the model. But as business travel remains sluggish amid the pandemic, major hotel chains have begun restructuring their portfolios with more flat-fee resorts to cater to leisure travellers seeking R&R in a secluded paradise. Wyndham is just the latest big name to make the shift:

  • Back in August, Hyatt Hotels agreed to purchase Apple Leisure Group, an all-inclusive-resort manager, for $2.7 billion.
  • And Marriott International announced Tuesday the addition of 20 new all-inclusive resorts to its luxury Autograph Collection Hotels brand.

Wyndham CEO Geoff Ballotti told The Wall Street Journal he expects leisure travel will continue to flourish as remote work policies permit an extra day or two on those weekend getaways. Wyndham is already witnessing an uptick in typically less-popular Sunday- and Monday-night bookings, he said.

Not Completely Back To Business: While leisure travel is helping to offset the dip in business trips, hotel data and analytics firm STR projects that 1 billion hotel rooms will be booked in the U.S. this year, well below 2019’s record tally of 1.3 billion bookings, though up from 829 million in 2020.

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