Taking stock of Marriott's all-inclusive strategy

The Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit recently opened with 117 guestrooms.
The Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit recently opened with 117 guestrooms. Photo Credit: Marriott Hotels & Resorts

All-inclusive resorts have been the bread and butter of Mexico's travel industry for quite some time. So when Marriott International unveiled a plan to expand into the sector in 2019, many believed that it was a venture that was a long-time coming.

With the recent opening of the Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit, I checked in with the brand and experts to see what else we can expect to see from Marriott's all-inclusive division in Mexico and beyond.

"Our new all-inclusive resort platform is a natural progression for Marriott International," said Alex Fiz, managing director, all-inclusive, Marriott International Caribbean & Latin America. "We announced the signing of the first Delta by Marriott all-inclusive resort in 2019 and opened the hotel at the beginning of August, as planned. We continue to see strong opportunities for quality brand experiences in the Caribbean and Latin America, and especially conversion opportunities, which are a strong proposition for savvy investors." 

A guestroom at Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit.
A guestroom at Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit. Photo Credit: Marriott Hotels & Resorts

The original all-inclusive plan 

As part of the initial announcement, Marriott said that it would increase its all-inclusive footprint under its brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, Marriott, Westin, W, Autograph Collection and Delta. In Mexico, the projected openings include the new Delta Hotels by Marriott as well as four resorts that will be part of a 220-acre development on the Riviera Nayarit. These include a 240-room Ritz-Carlton, a 400-room Westin, a 300-room Autograph Collection resort and a 500-room Marriott. 

The Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit that just opened is a conversion property that was once the Grand Matlali Hills Resort in the hills near La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. It has 117 guestrooms, all with private balconies, as well as two restaurants and four pop-up venues, two swimming pools, a fitness center, a spa and a beach club with shuttle service.

"Despite the current business climate, we have been able to maintain planned hotel openings in the region and signed several new deals, such as the long-term agreement with Blue Diamond Resorts, Sunwing Travel Group's hotel division," Fiz said. "Through this agreement, the All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy collection now features boutique resort properties throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico."

Marriott added 19 resorts, totaling around 7,000 rooms across six destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. Most of the properties are expected to be converted into Marriott's Autograph Collection brand. The portfolio is projected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2025.

A spa treatment room at Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit.
A spa treatment room at Delta Hotels by Marriott, Riviera Nayarit. Photo Credit: Marriott Hotels & Resorts

What's next in the pipeline?

The four resorts that will be part of the 220-acre development are still on track to open by 2025. Additional signed pipeline countries include Brazil, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.

"Marriott International plans to further expand its all-inclusive portfolio in popular leisure destinations worldwide with a mix of newbuild properties and conversions of existing resorts, including properties currently in the Marriott International portfolio," Fiz said. "The new platform will provide the company's roughly 150 million Marriott Bonvoy members the option to earn and redeem points for this pay-one-price concept. Marriott expects to expand its all-inclusive portfolio to over 30 properties by 2025."

Jennifer Dohrmann-Alpert, senior hospitality advisor at HKS, said, "Marriott saw the opportunity for all-inclusive expansion early with their acquisition of the Elegant Hotels portfolio in 2019. They have been steadily increasing their portfolio of all-inclusive properties across Mexico and the Caribbean since then and are well positioned to serve their Bonvoy members across markets and hotel categories with their growing portfolio."

Communicating with advisors

Advisors, however, would like to hear a little bit more from Marriott about their new all-inclusive endeavors. In a market like Mexico, where all-inclusives are a mainstay, the more information advisors have the better. The market may seem oversaturated, but heads continue to fill beds, so the demand is there. 

"There hasn't been a lot of communication from Marriott from the all-inclusive segment," said Geoff Millar, co-owner of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel. "I think they're still putting together their plan. Marketing all-inclusive resorts is a whole different animal than what they're used to."

Millar told Travel Weekly that Marriott recently sent out a questionnaire asking advisors and experts to give them recommendations for how to set up their all-inclusive organization and run the all-inclusive resorts.

"I think they're doing it slowly because marketing all-inclusive resorts is a different animal," he said. "They're still kind of feeling their way about how to set up an organization to do that."

Communication with advisors will be crucial in the coming years. Dohrmann-Alpert predicts that the trend of brands securing all-inclusive market share will continue for the next two to three years, so advisors will need all the information from the different hotel companies in order to best match their clients to all-inclusive resorts.

"With Hyatt Hotels' recent announcement that they are acquiring Apple Leisure Group and their 100 global all-inclusive properties, brands are moving quickly to secure market share in this growing space," said Dohrmann-Alpert. "Brand loyalty customers have been asking for more all-inclusive options, and brands are now responding via acquisitions and the launch of new products."


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