All-Inclusive Resorts Go Upscale

These posh properties offer package deals

Planners of high-end events typically eschew all-inclusive properties, reputed to appeal to budget-minded and leisure clientele. But that's changing quickly with the growth of a new breed of luxury all-inclusives that is redefining the segment. These elegant newcomers are touting complimentary offerings such as 24-hour butler service, fine dining and scuba lessons -- along with top-notch meeting facilities to court the group market.

Planners are starting to take notice. According to the Incentive Research Foundation's 2011 Incentive Trends survey, 27 percent of 130 respondents planned to "change to an all-inclusive pricing option" for their incentive travel programs this year.

Following is a sampling of all-inclusive resorts that planners at firms such as ITA Group in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Los Angeles-based ConferenceDirect, consider perfect for upscale meetings and incentives.


Dominican Republic
Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana
(809) 468-0000
AMResorts, based in Newtown Square, Pa., has tapped into the luxury all-inclusives market with two of its brands, the adults-only Secrets Resorts & Spas and Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts. Both offer special promotions for groups.

Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana is in the Dominican Republic's newest resort development, Cap Cana. The Spanish Colonial-style property offers breathtaking ocean views.

>Accommodations: 176 suites and villas; buyouts generally are not available at this and other Secrets properties

>Meeting/event space: 18,279 square feet, including a 15,846-square-foot convention center that holds up to 550 people, plus four boardrooms

>What's included: Dining at five restaurants, classes in cocktail making and dance, Ping-Pong and a hospitality office for group use

>What costs extra: Treatments at the Spa at Secrets Sanctuary and golf at the nearby 18-hole, par-72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Championship course

Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana
(809) 468-0000
This resort features traditional Caribbean architecture and is crafted of stone, hard woods and thatched roofs.

>Accommodations: 51 oceanfront suites; buyouts here and at other Zoëtry properties are available off-season

>Meeting/event space: 1,400 square feet that can accommodate up to 70 people

>What's included: Dining at three à la carte restaurants; classes in cigar rolling, cocktail making, cooking, dance, fitness, Spanish language and wine tasting; biking, horseback riding, snorkeling, volleyball and nonmotorized water sports; worldwide calling and Internet access, plus a hospitality area for group use

>What's extra: Treatments at Zoëtry Spa



Grenada
La Source in GrenadaLa Source
(800) 345-0356, ext. 123
On Grenada's secluded Pink Gin Beach, La Source was completely revamped in 2008. One of the elements that make this luxury spot a standout in the all-inclusive category: Guests are entitled to one spa treatment per day (with the exception of arrival and departure days).

>Accommodations: 100 rooms/suites

>Meeting/event space: No dedicated space; one restaurant that seats 80 can be used for events

>What's included: Dining at three restaurants and a deli, one daily treatment at the Oasis Spa, use of the fitness center, meditation classes, tai chi, yoga, archery, bicycle tours, fencing, golf at the property's nine-hole course, hiking, scuba diving (certified guests receive three dives per week stay; free classes are available for noncertified guests), tennis, volleyball and nonmotorized water sports (including kayaking and sailing)

Jamaica
Secrets St. James Montego BaySecrets St. James Montego Bay
Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay

(876) 953-6600
These two properties essentially offer the same upscale amenities in two different styles: Secrets St. James has a British Colonial ambience, while Secrets Wild Orchid, with a hipper vibe, takes its inspiration from the island's gorgeous surroundings.

>Accommodations: 350 rooms each, for a total of 700

>Meeting/event space: Approximately 10,000 square feet, shared by the two properties

>What's included: Dining at both properties' total of seven restaurants, nine bars, cooking classes, aerobics, yoga, archery, basketball, batting cage, bicycle tours, billiards, bocce, croquet, darts, an introductory scuba lesson (in the pool), snorkeling, soccer, tennis, volleyball and nonmotorized water sports (including water polo)

>What costs extra: Treatments at the Secrets Spa, golf at one of five nearby courses and horseback riding



Tip
If the meeting or incentive lasts more than four days, you might consider holding an event off-property, says Mary Wright, purchasing manager at ITA Group in West Des Moines, Iowa. If so, be sure to negotiate a credit for the food and drink that won't be consumed at the resort during that event.


Mexico
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
(866) 230-7221
The two Grand Velas resorts featured here (Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit) get high marks from meeting and incentive professionals for their quality of food and beverage, impeccable service and beautiful, well-maintained grounds. In fact, one site-selection professional considers the two properties "the Rolex of all-inclusives."

Among the many standouts of Grand Velas Riviera Maya, on the east coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, are the suites, each spanning 1,000 square feet and outfitted with 42-inch plasma-screen TVs and wireless Internet access. In addition, 24-hour room service and personal butler service are standard offerings here.

> Accommodations: 491 suites; buyouts are possible

> Meeting/event space: Approximately 91,500 square feet of flexible space that can be divided into as many as 32 small meeting rooms; two large convention areas can accommodate a combined total of up to 3,000 people

> What's included: 24-hour concierge service, dining at eight restaurants, 24-hour in-suite dining, premium and imported liquor, use of the fitness center, workout programs under the supervision of a personal trainer, meditation, yoga, Pilates, tai chi and nonmotorized water sports

> What costs extra: Treatments at the Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, golf (at discounted greens fees), scuba diving, swimming with dolphins program and setup charge for private group events

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit resortGrand Velas Riviera Nayarit
(866) 230-7221
This all-suite property is in Mexico's newest resort area, on scenic Banderas Bay on the west coast, just north of Puerto Vallarta.

>Accommodations: 267 suites; buyouts are possible

>Meeting/event space: Approximately 25,000 square feet, including the Grand Marissa Convention Center, which can accommodate up to 800 people for a reception, and a 6,617-square-foot grand ballroom

>What's included: Dining at three gourmet restaurants, Pilates, tai chi, yoga, water aerobics, use of the fitness center, tennis, volleyball and nonmotorized water sports

>What costs extra: Treatments at Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, golf (at discounted greens fees), set-up fees for private events, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing and whale watching


 

Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
(011) 52-984-877-3600
This property is all about water, given its perch on the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula (30 miles south of Cancún), where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean, not to mention a total of 13 pools.  

> Accommodations: 412 suites

>Meeting/event space: Approximately 7.752 square feet, split up among seven meeting rooms, outdoor terraces with breakout areas and more

>What's included: 24-hour concierge and room services, dining at seven restaurants and eight bars, use of the fitness center, water aerobics, billiards, golf at the Playa Mujeres Golf Club, volleyball, nonmotorized water sports (including kayaking, sailing and windsurfing)

>What costs extra: Treatments at the Secrets Spa Pevonia, with 24 treatment rooms

Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun
(011) 52 998-193-1800
This Secrets property on the colorful Riviera Maya features 43,000 square feet of pool areas.
>Accommodations: 433 suites

>Meeting/event space: Approximately 8,000 square feet in a variety of conference rooms and boardrooms

>What's included: 24-hour concierge and room service, dining at eight restaurants and eight bars, use of the fitness center, professionally guided water aerobics, billiards, golf at the nearby Playa Mujeres Golf Club and the Cancun Golf Club at Pok-ta-pok, volleyball and nonmotorized water sports (including kayaking, sailing and windsurfing)

>What's extra: Treatments at the Secrets Spa Pevonia

the Zoëtry Casa del Mar Los CabosZoëtry Casa del Mar Los Cabos
(011) 52-624-145-7700
On the Sea of Cortes at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, this property features authentic Mexican architecture, with cobbled courtyards, tiled fountains and lush tropical gardens, not to mention  local artwork adorning the rooms. The Casa del Mar also offers guests a choice of four swimming pools.

>Accommodations: 42 suites

>Meeting/event space: Approximately 1,737 square feet, including a theater, classroom, banquet hall and an outdoor beach club that can accommodate up to 150 people

>What's included: Dining at three gourmet restaurants, yoga, wine tastings, culinary classes and nutrition workshops, classes in dance and photography, tennis,  complimentary worldwide calling and Internet access, use of a hospitality area

>What's extra: Treatments at the Sueños del Mar Spa

Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera MayaZoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya
(011) 52-998-872-8300
This boutique property, set on 500 yards of private beach, has been an AAA Five Diamond Award Winner for seven consecutive years.

>Accommodations: 90 oceanfront suites, all with private terraces

>Meeting/event space: Approximately 1,400 square feet for up to 60 people

>What's included: Dining at four à la carte restaurants, traditional afternoon tea, yoga, wine tastings, cooking classes, instruction in Spanish and Mayan languages, Ping-Pong, nonmotorized water sports (including kayaking, sailing and windsurfing), a catamaran sunset tour along the bay, boat excursions to the nearby fishing village of Puerto Morelos, complimentary worldwide calling and Internet access, and use of a hospitality area

>What's extra: Treatments at the Thallaso Center & Spa