2024 Is the Year of All-Inclusive Travel, and Here’s Why

Hotel chains are expanding their all-inclusive portfolios. Meanwhile, boutique hotels offer unique experiences.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Updated
Edited by Meg Lee

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For some travelers, all-inclusive hotels conjure up images of flavorless food served under a heat lamp in lush and vibrant destinations where guests never actually leave the resort grounds. Lower-tier liquor flows freely (the good stuff will cost you more), as the few overindulgers put a damper on the trip.

That image is changing, as hotel companies expand their offerings, while redefining what all-inclusive means.

Hotels are growing their all-inclusive brands

Many hotel companies are rapidly adding all-inclusive resorts to their portfolio. Hyatt’s acquisition of Apple Leisure Group in November 2021 made it one of the largest portfolios of luxury all-inclusive resorts in the world.

That acquisition included the luxury-focused AMR Collection, which has beachfront properties in Mexico and Central America. That means there are now more than 100 new resorts for visitors (and where World of Hyatt members can use their points), up from about a dozen.

Just weeks before Hyatt’s news, Marriott had also expanded its all-inclusive footprint by adding 20 properties under a new brand dubbed “All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy.” Among those offerings is Marriott Cancun, which is set to reopen in early 2024 as a sprawling property of 450 rooms, plus amenities like a lazy river, waterslides and more.

Leaning toward luxury — both on and off-property

With these new all-inclusive offerings, hotels are emphasizing luxury. At Hyatt’s Zoetry Montego Bay Jamaica, all accommodations include an in-house concierge. Some have private swim-out pools.

“The Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts brand is all about exceptional amenities,” says AMResorts senior vice president Miguel Oliveira. “There are no check-in or check-out times, unlimited top-shelf spirits and 24-hour concierge.”

Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano said in a March 2021 earnings call that luxury rooms account for more than 10% of Marriott’s pipeline.

“Leisure demand has led the recovery, and we are well-positioned to continue growing our lead in resort destinations, including in the high growth all-inclusive space,” he said. For example, among Marriott’s recent additions is the Royalton Antigua, where visitors can stay in Antigua’s only glass-floored, overwater bungalows.

All-inclusives for people who hate all-inclusives

Increasingly more all-inclusive resorts are promoting a different type of all-inclusive. That includes getting guests outside the resort area, and offering boutique stays where guest counts are capped to a few dozen. That's a sharp contrast from the hundreds of hotel rooms at traditional all-inclusives.

For example, at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Clark, Colorado, there are only 12 cabins and three lodge rooms. Guests hardly spend time in their rooms or cabins though. Outdoor activities at the all-inclusive dude ranch include fly fishing and paddle boarding in the summer. Winter visitors can go snowshoeing, ice fishing, skiing and even hop on a sleigh.

Twin Farms in Vermont offers ski equipment and fat-tire bikes for use on its private slopes. A partnership with Volvo allows guests to explore Vermont's countryside by taking a drive in vehicles made available by the resort. Nightly rates sometimes run close to $6,000.

Baja Expeditions offers a glamping experience at San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico. Guests stay in windproof, heated tents with en suite bathrooms, and head out on whale-watching excursions during the day. The four-day experience costs about $5,000 for two guests and includes a charter flight to the lagoon.

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Why is all-inclusive travel becoming popular?

For travelers who care about costs, all-inclusives — while sometimes more expensive — can be worth it as they simplify planning and budgeting.

When pricing an a la carte vacation, travelers have to account for hidden costs like mandatory gratuities and resort fees. Then, they factor in minor expenses like bottles of water and parking. With all-inclusives, these expenses tend to be — well — included.

Even still, understand what’s covered when booking. Especially among cruises, it’s common to see similar rooms and itineraries at vastly different rates because some include gratuities, alcohol and fine dining, while others don’t.

For some more travelers, the opulence plus convenience can be worthwhile.

“The ability to pre-pay and not have any surprises or a bill waiting for you at the end removes many aggravating factors of travel,” says Beci Mahnken, founder and CEO of travel agency MEI-Travel. “It’s easier to budget.”


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