As I mentioned in a recent post, as fun as they are, most all-inclusives basically feature the same type of amenities at their core – a handful of buffet and a la carte restaurants, pools and beaches, bars and night clubs, poolside games and nighttime shows.
That made me think about what some resorts have done or could do to make themselves unique…
- Create a theme for your resort. Some already do this in fairly generic ways – “Adults Only” or “Family Focused” or even partner with media companies like Hanna-Barbera or Hard Rock. But I’m thinking more like what the resort we’re going to in a couple days has done by embracing the “Eco-Friendly” theme in a variety of ways – from having rescue animals on site to having solar panels on buildings to not giving bottled water. There are tons of other ways that resorts could embrace a theme – related to the local culture or targeting book lovers or yoga/holistic lifestyles or pretty much any sub-group – to differentiate themselves (although the risk is that resorts need to be “all things to all people” by default so having too narrow of a theme could backfire or get old.)
- Be a true all-inclusive. Many resorts have a few things that they still charge for – most spa services, most motorized water sports, non-house wines in the a la carte restaurants. Since we’re already (over) paying for everything we get “for free”, why not raise the price of the package by a hundred bucks and let customers pick one free massage or one free ride on a jet ski or one free bottle of wine at an a la carte?
- Relating to spa services, a resort could probably buy a few mid-grade massage chairs to offer to clients free of charge for those who are unwilling to pay for spa services.
- You see this increasingly at some resorts but have a kid-friendly, non-alcoholic bar specifically for the young ones, either in the kids club or near the pools.
- Most resorts have a mini-fridge with pop, beer and water. Why not throw a few other edible snacks in there – cookies or peanuts or whatever?
- There are all kinds of sports-related options that all-inclusives haven’t embraced much beyond beach volleyball and zumba by the pool (possibly for liability reasons.) But why not have options for those who love skateboarding? Parkour? Zipline over the pool? Trampolines? Even a deeper pool with a diving board? Or, if those things are too dangerous – why not an on-site bowling alley? A small race track with mini-race cars? A batting cage?
- Many do this already (everyone in the Dominican Republic plays it up as “Punta Canada” instead of “Punta Cana”) but they could do even more to appeal to the Canadians that swarm the resorts – have real Caesars on the drink menu instead of telling us that a Bloody Mary is the same thing, make sure you have at least 1-2 Canadian channels in the hotel rooms (and show a hockey game in the sports bar!), have maple syrup and poutine on the menu. 😉
- I’ve only heard of one resort in Jamaica that does this but why not have a staff member assigned to you for the week in the role of child care giver and light housekeeping for those who want to take their kids but also who want some mommy and daddy time.
- Especially for resorts located in or near cities, have an option that only includes breakfast but allows clients to go off-resort for their lunches and/or dinner to enjoy local cuisine.
- Formally partner with local schools or charities for guests who want to help those beyond the hotel workers. Many all-inclusive guests take gifts/tips but the majority of these go to the workers at the resorts and may or may not get shared more widely. Something like www.packforapurpose.org and knowing you can leave gifts right at the front desk, is a big help.