All-inclusive luxury resort trend takes off

Sandals CEO: Expectations are “off the charts” for all-inclusive
Growing expectations are reshaping the all-inclusive marketplace, Sandals Resorts chief executive Adam Stewart says.
“People are now sensitive from an educational standpoint about what they can expect from a Sandals or Beaches all-inclusive experience, whereas 10 years ago there was a particular apex where people just expected a certain amount and not a whole lot more. But I think the expectations are just off the charts today,” he says.
Guests tend to spend almost all their time on the luxury, all-inclusive, couples-only resorts as they have paid for all food and drinks upfront. However, this clashes with the trend for local, experiential and authentic travel.
Sandals gets around this through its own tour operator and DMC, Island Routes, making it possible to create a more tailored booking experience. This includes volunteer opportunities benefitting local communities in the Caribbean islands where Sandals resorts are located.
There are currently 15 couples-only Sandals properties and three of the sister Beaches Resorts, operating on seven islands. The hotel group is the biggest private employer in the Caribbean, with over 13,000 staff members.
Interviewed for a new Skift report called Evolution of the All-Inclusive Resort, Stewart says: “The internet has changed the whole curiosity factor. During the first 20-odd years we’ve been in business, expectations changed incrementally. Where we are today, especially within the last three years, we’re pushing the all-inclusive envelope to higher levels of service because the expectations are wildly ahead of where they were before. Some of this is created by us and out of the drive and belief that an all-inclusive can very much be a 5-star experience.”
He adds that social media is a vital aspect of marketing as “we literally believe it’s far more important that our customers speak on our behalf as to what they’re seeing.”
Sandals’ differentiator is that “we have the best real estate that money can buy in the Caribbean” and with the “beautiful azure waters” the company “becomes incredibly visual”.
[pictured: Pool suite at the new Sandals Barbados; photo courtesy Sandals Resorts]


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