All-Inclusive Resorts, On Nov. 1, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts welcomed its first-ever all-inclusive property, the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in Los Cabos, Mexico, and it will soon be followed by Hyatt Zilara Cancun, also in Mexico. For Hyatt, the two properties mark a significant entry into an area of hospitality that continues to be popular with leisure travelers and incentive groups, and is just beginning to court the meetings market. We recently sat down with Chris Walker, vice president of brand experience for Hyatt, to talk about how all-inclusives are evolving to accommodate more meeting and incentive groups, as well as how Hyatt’s all-inclusives will differentiate themselves in an heavily competitive market.
SM: What prompted Hyatt to get into the all-inclusive space?
Walker: Hyatt is going into a shift in our strategy to be more brand focused. We recognize that we have different consumers whom we are targeting with each of our brands. We realize that we have to be more thoughtful about how we deliver the experiences of these brands. Instead of a traditional consumer package brand, we wanted to make sure it was really clear that the brand experience is our product. The experience is the service that we’re selling and we want to bring that brand to life.
We’ve been looking at this . It’s the former Royal Cancun. That property has less meeting space but they still do some groups and it has more than 300 rooms.
The third one will be Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica, opening next year. It’s in the space of a former Ritz-Carlton and has meeting space as well. They do everything from weddings and family groups up to meetings and incentives as well. We’re even adding a whole new wing that will have some adult-only rooms and an additional restaurant complex that they’re building out, as well as renovating the existing hotel. We’re adding 120 more guest rooms. This property will be larger than Cancun but not as big as the Los Cabos property.
SM: Do you know where Hyatt plans to expand its all-inclusive brands?
Walker: We see these types of properties as a platform for growth for Hyatt. We have a need for more resort product. We have a lot of business and meeting hotels and those same customers also want to stay with us on a vacation. Playa is purchasing more than just these three hotels. We have plenty to explore. We’d be willing to work with any number of owners and hotels to expand, whether in the Mediterranean or even Asia.
There’s not a preponderance of all-inclusives all over the world. There are certain markets where it all works. Ski and beach resorts tend to be the two most popular. That’s kind of where it works. We’d be open to exploring a lot of those opportunities. We’re exploring that through the franchise relationship with Playa. We want to be flexible to grow through whatever business model would be best going forward.
SM: How will these all-inclusive properties appeal to meeting and incentive planners?
Walker: On the ease front, the all-inclusive nature of it just makes the whole planning and setting up the group and billing so much easier. These types of properties are already doing a lot of incentive business. Why should planners choose us? The guest experience is something we hope to enhance. The other area that’s a huge opportunity is food and beverage (F&B). With any trip like that, you want to make sure the food is really good and you’re feeding a lot of people.
Right now, the all-inclusive, as a segment, doesn’t do F&B particularly well well. Negative feedback for all-inclusives is often related to F&B. Hyatt has such a heritage of F&B and excellence in that space. We want to take a close look at that – especially for quality and presentation – and also for atmosphere and where you have the meals. How do you enhance the overall dining experience? That’s the one area that’s really important to planners. We also have some expertise on the dining side to help enhance the overall experience. That would be very relevant to planners.
SM: Tell us more about Hyatt’s brand-focused strategy and how that may affect meeting and incentive planners.
Walker: Hyatt made a conscious decision to say that each brand appeals to different types of customers and should deliver a different kind of experience. What do the guests need? We have to look at both aspects of that. How do we innovate that experience and make sure we focus on this specific customer? How do we understand their needs? How do we design the experience for them?
A meeting or incentive group at a Grand Hyatt, for instance, might have a different experience than they would at a Hyatt Regency. The Hyatt Grand will be bigger, bolder, and more dramatic. The Hyatt Regency will be a little bit more about connections and being practical.
Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara a will cater a lot more to groups. We have the experience elements that’ we’ve worked out on how they’ll be different. From the planner perspective, we’ll do all the great things we do at Hyatt, but they’ll se the customer experience. We still have some homework to do to dig in there and understand the all-inclusive experience more.