For clients anxious to stick to their budget, an all-inclusive resort will keep their spending on track. Dinah Hatch reports
With cost-conscious holidaymakers ever more determined to keep a tight hold on their purse strings, the prospect of a trip away with everything paid up front and no hidden extras becomes increasingly enticing.
Most research shows that the credit crunch is not deterring people from taking their main family holiday (it’s the city breaks and the last-minute weekends away that are suffering).
To bolster business this year, let customers know just how much all-inclusives offer, both from a money-saving perspective as well as the sheer scale of activities and entertainment that is thrown in along with the food and drink.
Every operator has a clutch of different deals to suit different price points and these days you can find offers ranging from under £1,000 per person.
At the other end of the scale, you can net serious commission by selling some very luxurious holidays to wedding couples who will still be paying less to tie the knot abroad than they would do if they had the wedding in the UK.
Most all-inclusive operators reported good sales for 2008 and predict an even stronger performance for 2009.
Cosmos head of mainstream product Ian Hailes said: “Sales for all inclusive properties outperformed most other products in 2008 and this trend looks set to continue throughout 2009.”
Almond Resorts vice-president sales and marketing UK and Ireland, Peter Hopwood, is equally optimistic, particularly in terms of the wedding and honeymoon market.
He said: “We believe all-inclusives will stay strong for 2009. The value that the product gives will make sure of that. The competitiveness of all-inclusive will come into its own during the credit crunch.
"The weddings market is also going to be strong. You can buy 10 nights in a deluxe room at one of our resorts and the wedding is thrown in free – that’s got to be cheaper than getting married in the UK.
“We are not cutting back on marketing or advertising because we feel people will still take a holiday because it is a key aspect in their lifestyle. It is going to be a tough year but we are confident people will see us as a good value proposition.”
Karl Thompson, UK managing director at Sandals, said sales for 2009 had already “far exceeded” the company’s expectations, with a trend in late bookings for its higher value butler and concierge-level bookings departing in the next couple of months.
Thompson said: “There can be the perception that all-inclusive compromises on quality, but that is not the case at Sandals or Beaches. People still want to feel pampered and spoilt and, with the ‘Luxury Included’ option, which is standard at Sandals and Beaches, luxury long-haul holidays can be surprisingly affordable.”
New properties coming online this year include the four-star Lily Beach Hotel and Resort at Huvahendhoo, Maldives, which opens its doors this April. Lily Beach aims to attract tropical bargain hunters by billing itself under a ‘value redefined’ tag.
The resort features 119 contemporary villas, including Family Beach Villas and ‘ultra-private’ Sunset Water Suites aimed at honeymooners and starry-eyed couples. It claims to deliver a five-star service for the price of a four star.
Also new for mid-2009 is the 300-room Breezes Panama, near Playa Blanca, on the Pacific Coast, whose facilities will include a casino and spa. The resort is part of the SuperClubs family, which operates the Grand Lido, Breezes and adult-only Hedonism resort brands.
Clients who want more from their all-inclusive break than an endless supply of free drinks by the pool can learn to dive, dance or speak a language. Guests can also book excursions in resort.
Kuoni has seven nights at the Lily Beach Hotel and Resort in the Maldives leading in at £1,874 per person, based on two sharing a beach villa. The price includes SriLankan Airlines flights from Heathrow and transfers (01306 740 888, agents.kuoni.co.uk).
ITC Classics has a seven-night Destress package at Petit St Vincent, a private island in the Grenadines, from $3,119 per person, based on two adults sharing a cottage on a full-board basis. The price, valid until April 30, includes boat transfers, a range of one-hour treatments and classes, and water sports (01244 355 400).
One great thing about all-inclusive holidays is the variety on offer, with a range of options on the market to suit different budgets, as well as various types of client. Here are three options worth considering
Mark Warner offers one week at the San Lucianu Beach Resort in Corsica for £676 per adult, departing Gatwick on May 17. Price includes flights, transfer to resort, full-board accommodation, windsurfing and sailing with tuition, tennis, a fitness and activity programme, aerobics and childcare for the over twos (0845 450 4445)
Almond Resorts offers seven nights at the four-star premium Almond Smugglers Cove in St Lucia, leading in at £999 per person twin-share in a standard room from May 1-15 2009. Price includes return flights with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick or Manchester direct to St Lucia, return transfers, taxes and fuel surcharges (which are subject to change) (0871 871 2828).
Sandals offers seven nights at the Grande Antigua Resort and Spa in a Honeymoon Garden Rondoval room, with private plunge pool and butler service, from £5,820 per couple for travel between September 1 to December 9, if booked by February 28.
The price includes all meals at nine different restaurants, unlimited premium brand drinks, twice-daily scuba diving, snorkelling, Hobie cats, kayaking, paddle boating, tennis and yoga. Also thrown in are nightly entertainment, round-trip airport transfers and all taxes, tips and service charges (0800 742 742).
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