Marriott expands all-inclusive portfolio with 7 new Barbados resorts
In early August, Marriott announced it was stepping into the all-inclusive space by "launching an all-inclusive platform" for some of its more upscale and luxury brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, Marriott Hotels, W Hotels, Autograph Collection and even Westin Hotels and Delta by Marriott.
Prior to this announcement, Marriott had exactly 7,100 open properties, with only one, the Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal, in Costa Rica, being all-inclusive.
But Marriott is already moving quickly to expand that number.
On Friday, Marriott publicized the acquisition of Elegant Hotels Group, which owns and operates seven luxury hotels with 588 rooms on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Six of the seven properties are located on the so-called Platinum Coast — the western edge of the island known for its beautiful white-sand beaches. And almost all of the hotels are all-inclusive, with two being adults-only properties.
Investments like this will better position Marriott to compete with upscale Hilton-branded all-inclusives (like the Hilton La Romana in the Dominican Republic, available from 45,000 points per night; and the adults-only, Hilton Playa del Carmen, available from 56,000 points per night) and Hyatt's Ziva and Zilara properties.
In addition to jockeying with Hilton for travelers seeking an all-inclusive experience, Marriott hopes to appeal to an array of different demographics by offering all-inclusive selections from its distinct brands. Marriott specifically said W Hotels would cater to adults, while Marriott properties would be more family-focused.
According to a previous statement from Marriott International, the all-inclusive resorts will offer "amenities, [options] and experiences for all ages" and customized depending on the brand.
Adults, for example, may have access to all-inclusive amenities such as fitness and spa facilities; 24-hour room service; and unlimited premium beverage programs, among others. Family-oriented resorts, on the other hand, may bundle water sports and activities, and access to children's and teen clubs.
With the news in August, Marriott kicked off its all-inclusive platform with the announcement of five new-build, all-inclusive properties. The first is a 650-room Autograph Collection resort expected to open in 2022 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The other four properties are going to be located in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico and will be part of a "flagship, all-inclusive destination" called NIA.
The 220-acre project will include a 240-room Ritz-Carlton resort and a 400-room Westin Hotels resort (both expected to open in 2023), followed by a 300-room Autograph Collection resort and a 500-room Marriott Hotels resort, both of which are slated to open in 2025.
The five properties are expected to cost Marriott around $800 million to build and will add 2,000 rooms to Marriott's portfolio. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the 1,345,906 rooms currently in Marriott's hotel portfolio, but it's surely just the beginning of many more to come.
We reached out to Marriott to see if they could share details about the pricing of any of these properties and if Marriott planned to convert existing properties. Their spokesperson stated that they plan to make the hotels within the Elegant Hotels Group available for Marriott points earning and redemptions in mid-2020, but didn't have any specifics to share about pricing or the new-build properties.
Regardless, more options are always a good thing for travelers. And the acquisition of Elegant Hotels Group means travelers won't have to wait for the 2022 opening of the new resort in Punta Cana to use Marriott points for an all-inclusive stay.
While it’s too soon to say how much these properties will cost, we can look to Marriott's one existing all-inclusive, the Westin Golf Resort & Spa in Costa Rica, for guidance. That's a Category 8 property available from 85,000 points per night. And, according to the statement, Marriott Bonvoy members will continue to have the "option to earn and redeem points" at these properties and have been promised a "convenient, pay-one-price concept.”
We can only hope that means these properties won't charge resort fees.
Additional reporting by Meghan Hunter.