Operators are constantly striving to offer products no one else can. Katie McGonagle looks at their exclusive properties
Better rates, smoother service, more added extras – the world is full of people trying to convince you their product gives you more than the rest.
That’s why some operators go one step further by negotiating exclusive deals to make sure they really can offer something their competitors can’t.
Whether it’s individual hotels or a chain spanning different continents, it’s worth knowing where these properties are, which clients they’re aimed at and who to book them with.
Get to know the key selling points too – exclusive deals mean operators can fine-tune the product to suit their clients, and many even station their own staff on-site to keep things running smoothly, giving you and your clients added peace of mind.
We look at a handful of the key industry players offering differentiated product with details of their unique selling points and individual features.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
When it comes to family-friendly hotels, the big two have built up a successful following by stationing hotels with all-inclusive packages and kids’ clubs to keep little ones amused in fun-filled short-haul resorts.
First Choice’s flagship Holiday Villages have proved so popular, the operator has just added a new resort in Minorca to join others in Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and the islands, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, bringing the total up to 11, with Majorca and Kos planned for next year.
The new property has everything you’d expect from a Holiday Village – two pools, a kids’ club, high ropes course, plus a spa, gym and one-bedroom apartments as standard to allow enough space for a family.
Sitting alongside are First Choice’s SplashWorld properties, which bring out the water baby in any client with their mix of waterslides and wavepools either on-site or nearby, with entry included in the package. There are 18 resorts across Europe with additions of Sharm el-Sheikh and Marsa Alam in Egypt, and Thalassa Village in Tunisia for summer 2013.
Stablemate Thomson has beefed up its exclusive range with Thomson Family Resorts, a collection of 18 hotels in Europe and North Africa designed for families – interconnecting rooms, healthy children’s buffets and parent and toddler sessions are among their key selling points.
Reassure anxious parents they can book cots, highchairs, bottle warmers and other equipment in advance, all provided by Mothercare. Three new hotels – in Costa Brava, Ibiza and Sharm el-Sheikh – have been added to the programme this year.
Thomas Cook’s exclusive offering in this sector centres on its FamilyWorld and Aquamania brands, which offer dedicated family facilities. The former includes six resorts with kids’ clubs run by Thomas Cook staff, including street dance academies, sports and evening sessions so parents get a night to themselves.
The latter features water parks either on-site or nearby with exciting pirate ships and octopus slides for little ones, or heart-thumping chutes and twisting slides for daredevils.
Airtours’ Sunstar and Sunsplash properties follow a similar pattern, with exclusive properties across the Spanish islands, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and north Africa. The latest developments include five new resorts across both brands, and a newly redesigned kids’ club programme divided into three age groups.
But it’s not all about the big two. Mark Warner has expanded its range of family-friendly resorts with the addition of the five-star Levante Beach in Rhodes. The resort features childcare for infants from four months old, plus a swimming pool, outdoor playground, sports facilities and family suites.
This joins other exclusive hotels in the firm’s portfolio, including Perdepera Beach Resort in Sardinia, San Lucianu in Corsica – especially popular with sailing enthusiasts – and Sea Garden in Turkey.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Differentiated product doesn’t stop at family properties – operators have cornered the UK market in hotels for a range of different clients.
Olympic Holidays offers exclusivity at dozens of properties across Greece and Cyprus, which this year include the four-star Anavadia Hotel in Rhodes, Macronissos Village Club in Ayia Napa, Hilatio Tourist Village in Pissouri, and Horizon Stelios Stalis Beach in Crete.
Across the water in Turkey, Anatolian Sky has cornered the market in holidays to the boutique Asina Hotel on the Datça peninsula, the Rhapsody Hotel, Elixir Hotel and Kalamar Hotel in Kalkan, and the Hotel Meri in Olu Deniz, among others.
Lest we forget Club Med’s range of exclusive properties, the operator is offering a £10 Love2shop voucher to agents for every short-haul booking and £20 for long-haul packages booked by June 23, for travel before the end of October (email firstname.lastname@example.org to qualify).
For short-haul in style, Thomas Cook’s My Style collection is packed with exclusive five-star properties in Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Majorca, Kos and Turkey.
Thomson’s Sensatori range straddles the gap between short and long-haul, with properties in Crete, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife, Mexico and, from summer 2013, Sorgun in Turkey. The new property will have separate adult and family zones and five à la carte restaurants.
For Virgin Holidays, the newly refurbished Savannah Beach in Barbados, Waves on the same island, and The Beach Club in Antigua make up its exclusive offering in the Caribbean. Waves has an adult-only spa plus four-poster daybeds and meditation areas for true peace and quiet, while the others have kids’ clubs to give mum and dad a break.
Closer to home, Virgin Holidays also offers the Hilton Ras al Khaimah Resort & Spa in the United Arab Emirates on an exclusive basis. It was the first hotel in the area to offer all-inclusive packages and access to three pools at the neighbouring Hilton villas.
CATERING FOR COUPLES
Adult-only hotels also feature prominently among operators’ exclusive ranges, and it’s obviously proving popular as Thomson Couples is introducing six new properties to its summer 2013 collection.
The long-haul additions to the 32-hotel range are the four-star Vilamendhoo Couples Resort & Spa in the Maldives and the five-star Riu Palace Macao in the Dominican Republic, while new hotels closer to home include the four-star-plus Iberotel Palace in Sharm el-Sheikh, four-star Medulin in Croatia and the first Couples Cruise aboard Nile Legacy in Luxor.
When it comes to unique long-haul products, Kuoni has it down to a T, with dozens of properties that can’t be booked with other UK operators.
Among these are Maafushivaru in the Maldives, 25 minutes by seaplane from Malé airport and soon to have a new sushi restaurant on-site, and in Sri Lanka, Jetwing Sea and Club Bentota, which are both in the operator’s honeymoon collection although they do accept children.
Thomas Cook’s Sentido range features a number of adult-only hotels alongside its more family-oriented properties, including Cala Vinas in Majorca, Aziza Beach Golf & Spa in Tunisia, and Kouzalis Beach in Cyprus.
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