Editor’s note: This article was previously published on 9/17/2015.
An all-inclusive resort vacation is a safe, fun way to do everything you want at an affordable price. They offer all the amenities you could find at any other hotel, including world-class dining, entertainment, and cultural activities. Everything’s included, even taxes and tips. Travelers can fully relax, knowing that when they check out there won’t be any surprises because everything is included in the upfront rate. All these reasons and more are why we love using all-inclusive resorts in our travel programs.
Nowadays, all-inclusive resorts can be found all over the world, but that hasn’t always been the case: the all-inclusive has come a long way. So today, let’s take a look back at the history of the all-inclusive resort and learn a little about how we got here.
A variety of travel industry and world economic occurrences over the past several decades have helped shape the all-inclusive resort industry to what it is today. The first all-inclusives were created by Gerard Blitz in the 1950s, whose aim was to create “a place to be happy.” The idea that life was made to be enjoyed resounded in the post-war context. People wanted an escape to be free to recharge and relax. Blitz’s goal in founding the all-inclusive company, called “Club Med,” was to “eliminate extra charges that can sour the sweetest of vacations.”
Club Med’s offerings were a bit different from all-inclusives as we know them today. Originally, guests stayed in simple straw huts clustered together on the beachfront. The menus and other literature at locations like Club Med were only in French, and on-site purchases had to be made with colored beads. Under this unique system, Club Med thrived. Over the next several decades, Club Med continued to evolve and expand with the addition of included activities and increasingly luxurious amenities.
In the 1970s, Jamaica’s Issa family was inspired by the strength of all-inclusive cruises and Club Med Villages even in difficult economic times. John Issa established Negril Beach Village with one ultimate goal: no hidden costs. The staff spoke English, activities were more flexible, dress codes were less formal, and mealtimes were longer. The resort had a piano bar that opened at 11:00 p.m. and stayed open until the final guest left for the night. Activities included free horseback riding, sailing, cycling, and evening entertainment. While at first these resorts were for singles only, couples and then families eventually followed, and so began the modern all-inclusive as we know it today.
At first, people were skeptical of this new method of vacationing, especially tour operators and developers. But the success of the all-inclusives was soon too much to ignore, and so came an influx of money towards the development of luxurious resorts worldwide that were built for the new all-inclusive model.
Over the past few years there have been a few different trends to emerge within the all-inclusive landscape. These include:
Today, vacationers can be guaranteed taxes, accommodations, meals, drinks, non-motorized watersports, and evening entertainment. Sometimes even scuba diving lessons, babysitting, theme parties, concerts, and classes on cooking, foreign languages or cigar rolling are included.
The biggest challenge for these resorts is the huge rise in demand for authentic local travel experiences. When you travel to an all-inclusive resort, often times you don’t want to leave. You’ve already paid for everything, after all. Because of this, there is a conscious effort among hotel brands to develop higher quality travel programs, both on-property and off, that immerse guests in the local culture.
What can we expect from all-inclusive resorts in the future? Well, for one thing, we can expect nuanced evolution in the overall quality of the guest experience. For example, an increase in the number of upscale family-centric resorts, focused luxury and wellness resorts and expanded services, and a continued push for more locally authentic cultural experiences.
For another thing, we’re going to keep sending people to them! The modern all-inclusive resort provides its guests with the perfect balance of fun, luxury, and relaxation, wrapped up in one easy package for the modern traveler. It’s the kind of reward that delivers awesome results, both for our clients and their participants!
It’s been a great 70 years since the founding of that first Club Med–here’s to another 70!
Skift Report 2015: The Evolution of the All-Inclusive Resort