All-inclusive resorts aren't just for the Caribbean — Hyatt's heading to Bulgaria
For the most part, all-inclusive resorts have always fit into the same mold in the same general destinations. We're talking watered-down drinks and subpar food at resorts dotting the beaches up and down the Caribbean and Mexico.
Lately, though, the tide has been changing for the all-inclusive experience. Major hotel companies — including Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt — have been investing serious cash to break the all-inclusive stereotypes as they collect resorts around the world. It's been almost like a game of Monopoly — but one with unlimited tequila and random breaks to limbo with your mother-in-law.
In this game, Hyatt just made one of the most interesting moves yet: It added five resorts in Bulgaria, along the Black Sea, to The Inclusive Collection.
Hyatt's new additions
Last year, Hyatt closed its roughly $2.7 billion dollar acquisition of Apple Leisure Group, which added about 100 all-inclusive properties to the company's collection. These resorts consist of a series of all-inclusive brands including Secrets Resorts & Spas, Dreams Resorts & Spas and Breathless Resorts & Spas.
Now, World of Hyatt members can earn and redeem points for stays at these Apple Leisure Group properties, along with Hyatt's own Hyatt Zilara and Ziva resorts. However, since all-inclusive resorts operate a little differently than other hotels and resorts, Hyatt also decided to introduce a special awards chart exclusively for all-inclusive properties.
Related: 8 lessons I learned from my 1st all-inclusive vacation
While the company already has a few all-inclusive resorts in (or planned for) Greece and Spain, the rebranding of these five all-inclusive resorts in Bulgaria is Hyatt's first venture into the all-inclusive market along the Black Sea.
The five resorts are split across two Bulgarian resort areas, Sunny Beach and Obzor. These are popular destinations for European holiday travelers and are known for being extremely affordable. Here's a complete list of the properties and a brief description:
- Secrets Resort & Spa: A 335-room, adults-only resort in Sunny Beach.
- Dreams Resort & Spa: A 597-room, family-friendly resort next to Secrets in Sunny Beach.
- AluaSun: A 191-room resort in Obzor.
- Alua Resort: A 318-room resort in Obzor.
- Breathless Resort & Spa: A 395-room resort in Sunny Beach.
Of the five resorts being rebranded and renovated, all will assume the new branding in 2023 except for Breathless, where it is scheduled for 2024.
All-new image for all-inclusives
We've said it before and we'll say it again: All-inclusive resorts are getting a new life.
During the pandemic, all-inclusive resorts thrived; they were, in a way, built to provide everything travelers needed during that time, including space, convenience and isolation. That trend seems to be sticking as travelers realize that an all-inclusive vacation can be more than just a trip to a tropical locale.
Accor's Rixos brand serves up luxury all-inclusive experiences at more than two dozen properties in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Croatia and Kazakhstan. In Croatia, at the Rixos Premium Dubrovnik, guests can have an all-inclusive experience at a cliffside resort tucked into the Dalmatian Coast and still head out of the resort to explore Dubrovnik's Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
All-inclusive vacations can also be convenient for winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding. Club Med, a defining brand in the all-inclusive movement, has a number of all-inclusive ski resorts that are great for both seasoned pros and newbies to winter sports. You can find these resorts in Europe, Japan, China and even Canada at the new Cub Med Québec Charlevoix. Who needs margaritas and sun when you can have snow and apres-ski?
Or, to really experience something wild, you could take page out of TPG writer Ben Smithson's book and take a trip to the cheapest all-inclusive resort in Egypt; it cost him just $41.46 a night.
The bottom line is whether you love or hate all-inclusive resorts, they're here to stay.
If these properties — from Croatia to the Black Sea to the snowy mountains of Canada — aren't doing it for you yet, give it some time. The new-age story of the all-inclusive resort is just starting to unfold.