With brutal cold hitting the East Coast, clients are clamoring for warm-weather getaways.
“Right now we’re booking a lot of the sunshine destinations. Mexico is normally a top-seller. But with all the extra snow and cold temperatures, everyone is a little beat-up. We’re seeing a ton of interest in Mexico,” says Darlene Wood, a team leader with Liberty Travel in Nanuet, NY.
Wood is scrambling to make last-minute bookings.
“Anything leaving within the next few days or week is selling like crazy. We’re also trending high for March and April,” says Wood.
As in prior years, all-inclusives in the Yucatan are top draws for Wood’s clientele. But she’s noticed some variations.
For one thing, clients are interested in venturing out more than they used to.
“We have customers that may stay at an all-inclusive for the convenience. But they go out into town to explore restaurants that they’ve heard about. And they’re taking more excursions over to Chichen Itza or Tulum. Not as many simply get to the resort and stay put,” says Wood.
Multigenerational groups where the “kids” are all adults. And if there are actual children in the group, there’s no rush to send them off to the kid’s clubs of yesteryear.
“Clients are asking what kind of pools there are for the adults and kids to have fun together. They like to do things as a family,” says Wood.
That’s a trend they’re betting on at Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort and Spa. During peak holiday seasons, the all-suite property typically hosts up to 400 children.
In July, the Grand Coral Beach will open the largest kid’s club in the Caribbean. The 50,000-square-foot club will soft launch in March.
“We’re giving a new face to the traditional kid’s club. In the past, parents dropped their kids off and ran in the opposite direction. Now, parents use vacations to make up for not spending time with the kids at home. We will offer activities that parents and kids can do together. They can put on a play, make handcrafts or an electronic photo album,” says Mauricio Aceves director of sales.
The Grand Coral Beach notably offers a European Plan with a twist.
“We came up with a $1,000 resort credit that allows guests to enjoy added value in the surrounding areas of the resort,” says Aceves.
Not only can guests use the credit on local restaurants and activities, they can use it on experiences not normally for sale. One example: a romantic dinner inside the 40,000-square-foot Gem Spa.
The property has also launched a program that offers agents a 10 percent commission on clients’ food, beverage and spa purchases.
“The reason we do this is to show our appreciation to agents and also to remain competitive. We realize that when agents sell an all-inclusive they get a commission on the whole thing. But we did an analysis and discovered that our guests spend thirty percent more than guests at all-inclusives. So agents actually come out ahead with us,” saysAceves.
As a Mexican-owned resort, Grand Coral Beach prides itself on “an authentic experience for the luxury market,” Aceves added.
And luxury is definitely booming at the moment.
“The luxury traveler is looking to go back to Mexico. They’re thinking of how appealing a place like Mayakoba looks right now. We’re also seeing lots of interest in the Puerto Vallarta region,” says Wood.
Villas are in demand with Jody Bear’s high-end clientele. She’s seeing a huge spike in interest in uber-exclusive destinations such as Cuixmala for families, couples and groups.
“The luxury market was hesitant for a while about Mexico. But people are more comfortable now. I’m getting so many more requests for the smaller boutique hotels or villas than I ever have. Places like Hotel Esencia in the Riviera Maya,” said Bear, co-owner of Bear & Bear Travel in New York City.
It a ray of sunshine in a week starting out with weather-related travel disruptions.
“What’s nice about Mexico these days is that there are so many options. It’s a repeat destination. People are always going back and the product never disappoints,” says Wood.