Laura French looks at the all-inclusive resorts for anyone looking for an escape from the cold.
Cold days, dark nights, cloudy skies – welcome to winter. And while cosy evenings huddled round log fires do hold a certain appeal, there’s something quite satisfying about jetting off to some exotic land where the sun seems to blaze perennially, and where blustery days back home are nothing more than a memory.
Which is probably why winter sun holidays continue to boom year after year, and why all-inclusive resorts in those sun-soaked destinations are one of the biggest money-makers you can come across. So where do you start when it comes to selling this lucrative sector? We’ve got the answers, with all-inclusive options to suit every budget.
Riu Tikida Palmeraie, Marrakech: Morocco combines year-round sun with desert adventures, Bedouin cultures and idyllic beaches, and there’s excellent value to be had. For some of the best savings, look to Riu Tikida Palmeraie. Located a short bus ride from Marrakech’s medina, it’s recently been refurbished to shiny effect and boasts modern, airy rooms plus a wellness centre with hammam, a multi-sports pitch and a huge, terraced outdoor pool complete with swim-up bar. There’s also a decent entertainment offering, with activities ranging from live music performances to art classes.
Book it:Tui offers a week’s all-inclusive from £397 per person, based on two sharing, with flights from Gatwick on November 29.
Alborada Ocean Club, Tenerife: The Canary Islands are just as generous when it comes to dishing out vitamin D, with a dose of dramatic landscapes and sandy beaches to boot. Olympic Holidays recommends the three-star Alborada Ocean Club Tenerife for holidaymakers on the hunt for a bargain here, with apartment-style accommodation plus hotel-standard facilities – think huge saltwater pool, kids’ mini-club, playground and pool area, plus expansive views over the sparkling sea.
Book it: A week’s all-inclusive with Olympic Holidays costs from £450 per person based on two sharing a Triple Standard Apartment, flying from Liverpool on December 7.
Gran Castillo Tagoro, Lanzarote: For those wanting to up the luxe level a little, suggest this elegant five-star, located across the sea in Lanzarote and set right on the Playa Blanca beachfront in a scenic, secluded part of the island. “Families, friends and couples will find outstanding facilities here,” says Elena Ahmadian, marketing executive for Cyplon. “There are six pools, beautiful gardens, a fitness centre and the unmissable VitaNova Spa, complete with water circuit, hydro-massage jets, and a range of treatments.” There’s also a 5D cinema, an excellent kids’ club and a medieval-themed splash park, while food options include two à la carte options, an adult-only restaurant and a string of bars.
Book it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive with Cyplon costs from £775 based on two sharing a Double Superior room, with flights from Gatwick on January 7.
Ask the expert
“Clients are attracted by the value for money that all-inclusive holidays offer. With all meals, drinks and many activities taken care of, clients get a lot of holiday for their money, which is particularly important for families or large groups where costs may need to be budgeted. Secondly, there are no worries about exchange rates fluctuations or unforeseen extra costs that might come up. Plus in some destinations there might not be easy access to local restaurants and facilities, so staying at an all-inclusive means that customers will find all they need right on the doorstep. Agents should look for the variety of inclusions within all-inclusive packages – the number of restaurants and whether any require a supplement, whether water sports or local excursions are included, and if customers are travelling with children, check for the availability and hours of kids’ or teens’ clubs at the resort.”
Malcolm Davies, product destination manager, Funway Holidays
Alila Diwa, Goa: Clients looking to go a little farther afield? Goa makes an excellent suggestion with highs of 33C in December and a plethora of activities, from camel riding to waterfall trekking, scuba diving to flea-market shopping. Cream of the crop among its cluster of all-inclusives has to be Alila Diwa, set in a secluded spot surrounded by coconut groves and rice paddies, and designed in Indonesian style with water features, open-air courtyards and high-beamed ceilings scattered among idyllic grounds. An infinity pool overlooks the paddy fields, and food is outstanding, with authentic Goan cuisine and complimentary cooking classes on hand for guests wanting to rustle up local dishes themselves. Yoga sessions, a spa and mini theatre add extra welly.
Book it: A week’s all-inclusive in a Terrace Room costs from £1,443 per person with The Goa Experience, including flights and private airport transfers.
Dreams Vista Cancun Resort & Spa, Cancun: Over in Mexico you’re certainly not short on options, but for clients wanting to try something new, suggest this soon-to-open family resort in Cancun. Set in the rather exclusive, gated community of Puerta del Mar, it promises to be at the forefront of contemporary style, with ultra-modern architecture and a plethora of selling points, from its rooftop pool to comprehensive spa, surf pools to Spanish lessons and beach parties to tequila tastings, much of which is included in the brand’s Unlimited Luxury deal.
Book it:Funway Holidays offers seven nights from £1,250, based on two flying from Heathrow on December 12.
St James’s Club Morgan Bay, Saint Lucia: Beyond Mexico there’s plenty more in the way of Caribbean vibes and year-round sunshine, not least in Saint Lucia. For a luxury stay here that won’t totally blow the budget, suggest this beachfront retreat set in a private cove. The rooms’ bright tropical decor is inspired by the environs, and activities are wide-ranging, from wakeboarding to water skiing, sailing to jewellery-making and plenty more for those wanting to do more than just flop on the beach. Castries market is also close by, while the soaring Pitons beckon wannabe climbers after a hardy adventure.
Book it: Prices start at £229 per room per night based on two adults sharing a Garden View Room in November, when booked through JTA Travel.
Faarufushi, Maldives: Turquoise hues so vivid they look Photoshopped, sands so perfectly white you can’t look directly at them, skies so blue you feel like you could dive into them; the Maldives is the stuff of dreams for anyone wanting to push the boat out, and new resort Faarufushi is one of its finest, with an understated approach that says luxury without pretence. “There’s a real focus on simple indulgences here,” says Kuoni product and purchasing manager Linda Pedler. “The minimalist design is a delicate addition to the island’s natural beauty, and there’s a fantastic house reef that is perfect for snorkelling.” There are five restaurants and bars, plus complimentary yoga and meditation, and every guest gets one included excursion – from an idyllic sunset cruise to a local island visit.
Book it: A week with Kuoni costs from £4,379 per person, flying from Heathrow in May 2020.
Sandals Royal Barbados: Back in the Caribbean there’s plenty for clients wanting to up the game, not least Sandals, whose Royal Barbados resort excels for its wide-ranging dining, with 17 restaurants (when coupled with Sandals Barbados next door), five bars and multiple pools, including one on the roof. Every one of its 272 rooms and suites come with butler service and the list of inclusions is impressive, from two free scuba dives per day for the Padi-certified, to unlimited land and water sports – hobie cat and glass-bottom boat trips included. Guests even get picked up in a Rolls-Royce from the airport.
Book it: A week’s all-inclusive in a South Seas Crystal Lagoon Club Level Barbados Suite with Balcony Tranquillity Soaking Tub costs from £2,099 per person, including flights from Gatwick and transfers, for departures August 28 to September 24, 2020.
Jumby Bay, Antigua: If the prospect of staying on their own private island sways clients, direct them to Antigua’s iconic Jumby Bay. Set on its own 300-acre isle and comprising a selection of rooms, suites, villas and entire estates, it offers access to three white-sand beaches alongside butler service and gourmet cuisine – served at the Estate House restaurant, an 1830s plantation house – and excellent snorkelling opportunities, with the type of seclusion that warrants a price tag.
Book it:Caribtours offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £6,359 per person based on two sharing a Rondavel Room, flying in November.
• Look out for early-booking discounts or promotional fares which could mean hefty savings. If clients have missed out for this winter, suggest they book now for next year and pay in instalments.
• Highlight any supplements payable on speciality restaurants so clients can budget for any additional costs in-resort, or opt for a comprehensive package that won’t leave them with any nasty surprises at check-out.
• Check which drinks are available and at what time – some resorts only serve drinks with meals or only after 6pm – and if clients are partial to a certain brand, be sure it’s included as part of the package.
• Travel outside the peak winter-sun season – October, November, March and April can represent better value and quieter resorts in some long-haul destinations, albeit with less-predictable weather.
Best of the rest
Hard Rock Tenerife: Clients after something a little different? Travel 2 recommends Hard Rock’s new, sleek Tenerife outpost for a jam-packed, music-themed stay that has families at its heart.
Ikos Andalusia: Elsewhere in Europe, the newest resort in the Ikos family, opening in May 2020, brings the brand’s iconic dine-around programme, free use of a Mini, complimentary green fees and more to the Andalusian coast, with 400 rooms and menus curated by Michelin-starred chefs.
Labranda Coral Beach Resort, The Gambia: For guaranteed winter sun suggest The Gambia, where this beachfront resort, set among towering baobabs and swaying palms, offers a good-value all-inclusive deal with idyllic ocean views as an added sweetener.
East Winds, Saint Lucia: Caribtours recommends this secluded spot for above-and-beyond extras including a bottle of champagne and chocolates on arrival, daily changing four-course menus and a self-service swim-up pool bar, plus a free cocktail-making book thrown in for good measure.