It’s a new era for all-inclusive resorts — and Accor wants to have 100 in the next 5 years
All-inclusive resorts have a reputation problem. It's a fact.
More often than not, the idea of an all-inclusive resort drums up images of bland food, obnoxious crowds and an overall meh experience.
Recently, however, major hotel chains such as Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton and Wyndham have been pushing back on that notion by doubling down on their all-inclusive portfolios.
With the acquisition of Apple Leisure Group last year, Hyatt added 100 all-inclusive properties to its portfolio, and those resorts are now rolling out into the World of Hyatt system. Marriott more than doubled its all-inclusive offerings in 2021 when Blue Diamond Resorts integrated into Marriott Bonvoy. Wyndham launched an entirely new all-inclusive brand, Wyndham Alltra, and Hilton opened new luxury all-inclusive resorts in Tulum and Cancun this year.
Now, Paris-based Accor, Europe's biggest hotel brand with a global reach, is letting it be known that it, too, is all-in on all-inclusives.
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Accor is launching the dedicated multibrand "All-Inclusive Collection," it announced this week.
Currently, Accor operates 24 all-inclusive resorts in seven countries through its luxury brand Rixos, plus 26 properties in the Rixos pipeline equaling more than 14,000 rooms. Now, building off the success of Rixos, the market leader in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia, Accor plans to take what it's learned about the segment and replicate it across other well-known luxury and premium brands including Fairmont, Sofitel, Pullman, Swissôtel and Môvenpick.
"The objective is to leverage the strength and visibility of these brands in the key target markets for expansion for the All-Inclusive Collection," reads a statement from Accor.
For now, Accor plans to center its all-inclusive expansion on Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as Central America and the Caribbean, where the majority of the brand's competitors have the most presence. While initially working to expand Rixos' footprint, the goal is to have over 100 all-inclusive resorts globally within the next five years.
This year alone Accor will open a handful of Rixos properties, including the Rixos Qetaifan Doha, which will have one of the world's largest waterparks, and the Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha. The first non-Rixos all-inclusive property in the collection will be the 1,350-room Swissôtel Sharm el Sheikh, the first Swissôtel in Egypt. It will feature multiple dining options, a waterpark, beach club and entertainment facilities.
There's no official word yet on when other brands, like Fairmont and Sofitel, will start expanding into the all-inclusive space.
Most of Accor's competitors have grown in the segment by partnering with or acquiring all-inclusive brands with already strong portfolios. However, the brand has a strategic opportunity to help redefine what an all-inclusive resort even is in the first place as it brings new brands into the category.
To do that, Accor is leaning on Ennismore, the lifestyle hospitality company it acquired last year behind chic brands like The Hoxton and Mondrian. The All-Inclusive Collection's programming, according to the statement, will be "inspired and led" by Ennismore's food and beverage concept lab, Carte Blanched.
Traditionally, food is one of the weakest parts of the all-inclusive experience, so Ennismore has a great opportunity to reset that standard.
Beyond (hopefully) elevated dining, the portfolio will also offer day and evening activities, including performances, sports activities, spa treatments and wellness facilities, water sports, children's clubs and more.
As TPG reported last year, in the five years from 2014 to 2019, all-inclusive sales increased 20% and around 1,500 resorts generated a whopping $7.9 billion, according to research firm STR. Also, a July 2021 survey of 1,515 Americans conducted by Maru/Blue found that 54% of people were likely to consider an all-inclusive vacation.
It makes sense, especially when you factor in the pandemic.
All-inclusive resorts provide an easy re-entry into travel that's often spread out and, by design, provides everything you need, from boutiques to bars, right on site. They also let travelers know exactly what they're going to spend upfront without pesky hidden resort fees and surcharges. Usually, an all-inclusive vacation requires little to no extra spend unless the traveler decides to tack on a special experience like a romantic dinner on the beach or a spa treatment.
Accor's plan to operate roughly 100 all-inclusive resorts in the next five years is further proof that the major hotel brands are ushering in a new era for the segment. It seems that Accor, which has already played by a slightly different rule book with its Rixos resorts, has a great opportunity to really set a new standard for all-inclusives as a whole.
Now the question is: Will it? And how will it compete with brands that have much stronger loyalty programs and foothold here in the U.S.?
Either way, as these brands continue to open more all-inclusive resorts, the competition will only get more fierce. Hopefully, that will force them all to innovate and grow to the point we can officially say it's the golden age of the all-inclusive resort.