Help clients stick to a budget with Katie McGonagle’s guide to all-inclusive bargains
There’s a good reason why all-inclusive breaks are on the rise: take economic doom and gloom, throw in high inflation and the ever-tightening squeeze on household budgets, and it’s easy to see why consumers are keen to set their spending in advance.
All-inclusive holidays offer the reassurance of knowing you won’t blow the budget by overspending on food and drink in-resort, plus the convenience of having everything already catered for. The rise of inclusive packages farther afield is also making some long-haul destinations more accessible for customers who might otherwise be put off by concerns over price.
Here, we ask operators for some of their favourite budget-friendly picks, so you can get the best deal for customers and keep them coming back for more.
Any parent will confirm kids come with a hefty price tag at the best of times, and never more so than on holiday: add up air fare, a second room, constant supply of drinks, snacks and endless ice cream, plus activities to keep them entertained, and it soon reaches eye-watering proportions. Stay all inclusive, though, and little ones can enjoy all the extras they want without nagging mum and dad for money – worth it for the lack-of-hassle factor alone.
All-inclusive operator First Choice has new Holiday Villages in Kos and Majorca this year, and has added Rosamar Gardens in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava and Paradise Valle Taurito in Gran Canaria to its 2013 SplashWorld collection. The latter is home to one of the island’s biggest water parks, where little ones can enjoy an activity pool, slides and pirate ship, while older siblings brave the white-knuckle twists of the sidewinder or thunder down one of two ‘kamikaze’ slides.
Sunstar properties, part of Thomas Cook’s budget-focused Airtours brand, will feature revamped kids’ clubs this year, offering three sessions a day, six days a week at no extra charge. For water babies, there are 19 Airtours Sunsplash properties, plus another 28 in Thomas Cook’s Aquamania range, which grant guests unlimited access to on-site water parks or entrance to splash parks nearby, thereby cutting down on the costs of entertainment. Brochures now feature a new ‘slide guide’ to help customers choose the right resort.
As a higher-end alternative, the operator’s My Style resorts include family options such as the newly-added five-star Paloma Oceana Resort in Side, Turkey. It offers a ‘kids from a quid’ deal, so seven nights’ all-inclusive with flights and transfers in May starts at £1,619 for two adults and a child.
Long-haul options also abound. Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in Saint Lucia is divided into adult and family zones, so kids can play to their heart’s content in the Coco Kidz club, The Clubhouse for pre-teens, or the on-site waterpark with lazy river and Coconut Cannon slide, without costing mum and dad any more. The Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun is another family favourite, with two children’s pools, basketball courts, beach volleyball, kids’ club for four to 12-year-olds, and a teens’ lounge. Both are in Caribtours’ new affordable range, C by Caribtours.
Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands are targeted at the luxury market, but with so many activities on-site, families need never leave the hotel, making it an option for those who don’t want unexpected extras: choose from vast Pirates Island waterparks and Sesame Street character games for little ones, DJ academies and arcades for ‘tweens’, plus nightclubs and Xbox game garages for teens.
TWO BY TWO
There’s nothing more relaxing than a romantic holiday with everything on hand, so couples are another key target market. Hayes & Jarvis is tapping into the demand with its largest-ever all inclusive brochure, featuring 21 new resorts in the Indian Ocean, Far East and Mexico.
The operator suggests upgrading couples for those extra-special touches without costing the earth. The premium all inclusive package at Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa in the Maldives, for instance, adds a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, free Wi-Fi, a daily-refilled minibar and daily spa allowance.
Couples seeking a little luxury can also take advantage of reduced rates and a lower all inclusive supplement at Ambre Hotel in Belle Mare, Mauritius, for stays until September 30 if booked with Signature by Thomas Cook by the end of February.Funway Holidays, which has forged a new partnership with AMResorts, has seen more budget-friendly destinations such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic grow in popularity compared to the classic Caribbean all-inclusives. It recommends the value-driven Now Resorts for offering high-quality food and drink at affordable prices. Now Larimar Punta Cana, for instance, offers four à la carte restaurants, three buffets and a beachside grill, plus top-shelf spirits, premium beers and daily minibar, from £889 for a week in September.
C by Caribtours also features more budget-friendly options, such as Secrets Royal Beach in Punta Cana, and Island Inn in Barbados. Meanwhile, Sandals sister brand Grand Pineapple offers more affordable beachfront resorts in Antigua and Jamaica.Older couples are another sector of the market for whom setting a budget in advance and sticking to it is often very important.Olympic Holidays recommends short-haul options such as Malta and Cyprus, with their winning combination of pleasant shoulder-season weather and hotel product for all budgets. The four-star Elias Beach Hotel in Limassol starts at £825 for departures in May, including return flights from Birmingham and transfers.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
It’s the classic tale – groups travel out as friends but come back bitter enemies after holiday in-fighting causes a rift. Why not avoid one of the key bones of contention – where to eat and how much to spend – by suggesting they stay all-inclusive?
For short-haul sunshine, Olympic commercial director Photis Lambrianides says: “Among larger travelling groups in particular, it can be extremely difficult to forecast just how much spending money will be required. By paying for the entire holiday in advance – including meals, drinks and often use of the hotel’s sporting and entertainment facilities – clients know just what it will cost them. For groups of friends, properties in the mainstream resorts of sought-after destinations like Greece, Cyprus and Turkey have some of the best-priced all-inclusive packages.”
The three-star Triton Hotel in the party capital of Malia, Crete, starts at £409 in September, including flights and transfers, offering the perfect base for barflies.
Club Med highlights several properties as particularly well-suited to groups of friends, from action-packed options in Turkey such as Bodrum Palmiye and Kemer, to the adult-only Turkoise in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Columbus Isle in the Bahamas.
Thailand has always been a good bet for a sun-and-fun holiday, but growing all-inclusive options are opening it up to a wider market. Katie Parsons, regional product manager for Hayes & Jarvis, says: “All-inclusive holidays can be a great value option, but it is a good idea to check clients’ interests to recommend the best package. Some resorts offer free watersports and access to golf courses, for example, which would suit sports enthusiasts. The all-inclusive package at the Evason Hua Hin in Thailand includes tennis, mini-golf, archery and a 30-minute kitesurfing lesson – plenty to keep active types entertained.”
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