October 21, 2019 Don Goodson 0 Comments


  • Leisure destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean show a robust hotel construction pipeline, with 62% and 42% of the rooms under construction poised to be part of all-inclusive properties, respectively.
  • Demand in these destinations continues to rise as tourism numbers and airlift continues to increase.
  • Customers choose the all-inclusive model because it provides value, as well as convenience.
  • Internationally recognized hotel brands commonly known for European Plan models have been turning to the all-inclusive model to grow their portfolios.

There’s no doubt about it—the all-inclusive (AI) resort is here to stay. The resort model that packages all room and board costs into one up-front rate has become a mainstay in beach destinations, most notably across Mexico and the Caribbean. The model is expanding, quickly, and there are no signs of development slowing down.

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the growth and success of the AI resort model, but the most important ones are the high profitability and returns for investors, developers, and owners, as well as the high popularity among consumers. In fact, many of the established brands that typically operate under the European Plan (EP) model (only room but no board) have been adopting the AI model into their existing and growing portfolios.

With a robust pipeline for hotel development across Mexico and the Caribbean over the next few years, there is ample opportunity for substantial ROI for investors and resort developers in the AI resort segment.

A Robust Mexico and Caribbean Pipeline

Leisure destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean are showing an impressive pipeline for growth over the next few years. According to a recent STR construction report, there was a 33.9% increase in the rooms under development across the region as of July, when compared to the previous year.

What this breaks down to is a total of approximately 21,405 total hotel rooms in the pipeline at different stages of development in leisure destinations in Mexico, most notably in Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Los Cabos. In the Caribbean there is a total of approximately 45,994 total hotel rooms in development, the majority being in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.

Of the 12,822 new rooms currently under construction in Mexico, approximately 7,988 or 62% are estimated to be AI and of the total new rooms under construction in the Caribbean, approximately 10,003 or 42% are slated to be AI-focused.

Customers Choose AI

Why the rise in AI development? Among the many reasons, the model is highly appealing to the leisure traveler. In 2018 there were 30 million travelers that visited the Caribbean and 40 million people visited Mexico.

All of these travelers have a choice in the type and style of hotel they book. The AI model provides consumers with a worry-free option, and one that comes with built-in value.

“It’s all about the simplicity of the guest experience. An AI resort is the place where the consumer can check-in and then check-out worry-free.”

Not only this, today’s consumer is all about searching for value, and that’s true even in the luxury segment. According to the 2019 Caribbean Resort Product: Staying Ahead of Today’s Customer Preferences by Horwath HTL, “The last downturn changed the economic landscape, but it may have also altered the behavior of consumers who have learned to live without expensive products or see the value in them.” What this means for the hospitality industry is that consumers are searching for value-related offers and that fuels the growth of the AI sector.

The Industry Chooses AI

Not only are customers choosing AI resorts, brands that have long been known for their EP models have been adding all-inclusive models to their portfolios.

In a previous article I wrote for Global Hospitality Resources, “During the last 20 years the AI offering in the Caribbean, where the vast majority of the AI product in the Americas is concentrated, has not only grown, but more importantly, it has evolved through brand segmentation and product innovation, much like how the U.S. chain scales have done so in order to augment their outreach and appeal to multiple customer demographic clusters and income levels.”

“When I first published the article back in 2014, I noted the lack of U.S. brands entering the AI space, suggesting that U.S. brands would continue to shy away. But it seems that that my original assumption was wrong and it is changing, as major legacy brands are moving into the AI segment.”

Should there be Concern for Over-Saturation?

With so many hotel rooms in the pipeline, this begs the question, does the supply outweigh the demand? For some of the more popular leisure destinations in Mexico, such as Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Los Cabos, the amount of new development for 2019 will represent five to 11% of total supply. From a development standpoint and looking at key performance indicators retroactively, there might be a slight short-term concern for Cancun and Riviera Maya before the new rooms are absorbed into the market.

But, more importantly, much of the concern is focused on external factors which are out of any operator or brand’s control, such as sargassum or recent travel advisories that have affected connectivity. The dismantling of the international offices for the CPTM will also play a factor. For Los Cabos, there does not seem to be a concern of oversaturation considering the demand has increased 21% during the last five years.

For the Caribbean, as of year-end 2018, of the 26 destinations that reported stay-over arrivals to the Caribbean Tourism Association, 17 reported growth, while only 9 reported declines.

“One must take into consideration that certain destinations are still ramping-up and normalizing after the 2017 hurricanes. More importantly, airlift into the region has continued to improve, which is a good sign for investment.”

How to Capitalize on the AI Market

Both Mexico and the Caribbean are two regions where Apple Leisure Group (ALG) operates a large percentage of its resort room portfolio. Via its Vacations brands, ALG sends approximately 2.3 million passengers to both regions annually, and the company’s vertical integration, which includes several distribution channels, ensures the resorts that work within the ALG umbrella operate with strong occupancy year-round.

The AI model has become a vital part of the hospitality industry in both Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s fueling nearly half of the development pipeline across both regions for the foreseeable future and continues to be a preferred option among consumers. Now is the time to align with the right partner to break into this competitive segment.

Planning to build or renovating a resort? Contact us at [email protected] to find out how to maximize the value of your investment.

The post Why Jump on the All-Inclusive Bandwagon? appeared first on Apple Leisure Group.

Why Jump on the All-Inclusive Bandwagon? was last modified: October 21st, 2019 by Don Goodson