Why This Winter Is the Best Time to Take an All-inclusive Vacation in the Caribbean, According to Hyatt's CEO

This winter, it seems, travelers are deciding their safest bet is a resort where everything happens under one roof.

Aerial view of La Bonita in Riviera Maya, a ZoëtryⓇ Wellness & Spa Resorts
ZoëtryⓇ Wellness & Spa Resorts. Photo: Courtesy of Apple Leisure Group

This could be the season for the all-inclusive.

With ever-changing restrictions — and troubling news about variants — travelers aren't scrapping their trips entirely. They're just reconsidering what "vacation" means. This winter, it seems, the safe bet is a resort where everything happens under one roof.

At least, so says Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian, whose company recently took over dozens of resort properties across the Caribbean, Europe, and Mexico.

"People have been through a tough 20 months," said Hoplamazian in a one-on-one interview with Travel + Leisure in November, before the omicron variant once again upended the travel plans of many. "The idea of being able to regroup, spend time with loved ones, family, friends — you're now seeing a lot of reunions going on as international travel is starting again."

Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt
Courtesy of Apple Leisure Group
DreamsⓇ Resorts and Spas in Costa Rica
DreamsⓇ Resorts and Spas. Courtesy of Apple Leisure Group

As proof of the trend, Hoplamazian points to Hyatt statistics that show that "​​demand levels have surged for all-inclusive properties, with a heavy concentration into the holiday periods" and for spring break 2022. But he's also got anecdotal evidence that more and more travelers are seeking out easy, carefree escapes this winter.

"I've been getting interesting notes from friends who say, 'You know, I've never written to you about whether you can help me find a room somewhere,'" Hoplamazian shared, adding that many of these travelers are shocked to learn that prime resorts are already booked up for the holidays.

That's got travelers looking anew at a classic vacation concept: The all-inclusive resort, the sort of place where "travelers can seek a balm for the stresses of more than a year of remote work and Zoom school," as Travel + Leisure reported earlier this year.

For its part, Hyatt has moved into the space in a big way, with the $2.7-billion acquisition of Apple Leisure Group, an operator of roughly 100 hotels and resorts in 10 countries.

"We launched our first [all-inclusive] brands eight years ago, so we're not new to the space. We were early," Hoplamazian says, describing the Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva brands. Those twin all-inclusive brands now have locations in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and in numerous destinations in Mexico, including Cancun and Los Cabos.

Now, though, Hyatt can offer nearly a hundred other options to travelers, including members of the brand's well-regarded World of Hyatt loyalty program.

Among the new all-inclusives that are now under the Hyatt umbrella are Dreams Resorts & Spas in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Spain, among other destinations. Hyatt has also added Secrets Resorts & Spas properties across the Caribbean and Mexico, plus a forthcoming resort in Corfu, Greece. The numerous Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts in the Caribbean and Spain are part of Hyatt now, too.

Pool at Mallorca Villamil Resort, a SecretsⓇ Resorts and Spas
SecretsⓇ Resorts and Spas. Courtesy of Apple Leisure group

"[All of] this is going to allow us to introduce our millions of World of Hyatt members to a whole new experience in so many new markets," Hoplamazian said. "We're going to double our resort presence — and expand by 60 percent in Europe."

Even so, says the Hyatt CEO, you shouldn't wait if you're still on the fence about your winter vacation plans.

"If you want to go on holiday, you should book sooner than later, because it's getting filled up," Hoplamazian said. "That's true in places like Hawaii, as well as the Caribbean and Mexico, but also at domestic resorts."

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