The Year of the Luxury All-Inclusive Resort Continues in the Caribbean

Karisma Hotels & Resorts Announces Cash-in Your Points Program
Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa

Recent announcements that both a RIU Palace project in Aruba and a Sonesta project in St. Maarten are both on track for October openings serve as evidence that the region's influx of high-end all-inclusives is not a fad.  

Whether it’s a high-end all-inclusive making its debut in the region or a long-time Caribbean hotel offering an all-inclusive plan for the first time, many resorts in the Caribbean are getting into the all-inclusive game and are sparring no expense in making these places havens for affluent clients seeking top value for their buck. 

Travel Agent breaks down the latest upscale all-inclusives to make its way to the Caribbean, all-inclusive resorts that are planning to expand to the Caribbean in the future and Caribbean properties that have recently modified their plans to offer all-inclusive packages.

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Riu Palace Antillas to Open This October in Aruba

The Riu Palace Antillas will open in October

Coinciding with the start of high season in the Caribbean, RIU Hotels & Resorts will open its second hotel on the island of Aruba on October 11. The luxurious Riu Palace Antillas, located next to the Riu Palace Aruba on Palm Beach, will be an adults-only, all-inclusive resort.

Some amenities clients can expect include a welcome glass of cava, a concierge, 24-hour room service and free Wi-Fi Internet service throughout the hotel. 

The modern interior design of the Riu Palace Antillas follows the style the RIU Hotel chain is using for its new projects. Its 482 rooms will have satellite flat screen TV, an electronic safe and free Wi-Fi Internet service. Visit www.riu.com.

New Sonesta Ocean Point Resort on Track for Soft Opening in October

With a soft opening still slated for October, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort will the newest five-star property in St. Maarten. This all-suite resort sits on the southernmost point of the island, adjacent to the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino.

After a multi-million dollar renovation to the former Ocean Terrace building, the 129-room Sonesta Ocean Point emerges as a sophisticated, adults-only, all-inclusive resort. Blending contemporary design with a Caribbean vibe, the resort evokes a chic, inviting atmosphere from the public spaces to each of the spacious accommodations ranging from the 480 square-foot Junior Suite King to the lavish 2,600 square-foot Luxury Penthouse. 

Sonesta Ocean Point Resort features three pools

Back in April, Travel Agent visited the then construction site of Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and had little doubt it would be able to open in October, a target date chosen so the hotel could be ready in time for the 21st Annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show, which kicks off October 6.

The project was way ahead of schedule when we visited in April as the rooms were already completely gutted just two weeks after the groundwork began.

“We just felt like there was a market for this,” Eliska Hesova, director of business development for Sonesta St. Maarten All-Inclusive Resorts, told us back in April.  “We looked at resorts like Sandals and Dreams and what they were doing, and just knew that the luxury all-inclusives are something that people are really going for now. And we have the location for it.”

Exclusive to Sonesta Ocean Point guests, the resort features three pools including The Edge infinity pool with a private beach on the cliff, a Swim-Out pool connected to Swim-Out Suites and The Point Pool. Also exclusive to guests, there are also three bars and lounges including the Sunset Lounge & Bar, Azul Rooftop Bar for private functions and the contemporary lobby café and bar, 18.63. Visit www.sonesta.com/oceanpoint

Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa Started it All

Although it technically had a soft opening toward the end of last year, the new Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa can get all the credit for the latest wave of luxury, all-inclusives in the Caribbean. 

Situated on 17 acres of stunning land along the pristine Pink Gin Beach, Sandals LaSource Grenada offers clients a high level of luxury with an unprecedented look and feel for the resort company’s portfolio. 

There are nine global gourmet dining options, including the brand’s very first steakhouse, Butch’s Chophouse, named after the resort company’s founder and chairman. 

There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center and the signature Red Lane Spa. Conveniently located only minutes from Maurice Bishop International Airport, Sandals LaSource Grenada offers about 225 rooms housed within three distinct villages: Pink Gin, Italian and South Seas. Visit www.sandals.com/grenada.

Karisma Expands to the Caribbean

Karisma Hotels & Resorts, which is primarily known for its high-end resorts in Mexico, had a soft opening of its first Caribbean resort at the end of 2013. 

Azul Sensatori Jamaica is Karisma's first hotel in the Caribbean

The resort in Jamaica, Azul Sensatori Jamaica, marked Karisma Hotels & Resorts', a premier collection of 11 Gourmet Inclusive properties in Mexico that are comprised of El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels, El Dorado Generations and Azul Hotels and Villas by Karisma, first expansion beyond the Riviera Maya.

In 2012, Karisma Hotels & Resorts acquired majority and controlling interest in the former Sandy Bay Beach Resort in Negril. Visit www.karismahotels.com.

Two Divi Resorts Launch All-Inclusive Options

Clients heading to the Caribbean can now book all-inclusive packages at the family-friendly Divi Little Bay Beach Resort on the south coast of St. Maarten.

Divi Little Bay joins just two other properties on the Dutch island offering all-inclusive benefits to visitors: Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort.

According to Jason Price, director of revenue and sales at Divi Resorts, the new all-inclusive option at Divi Little Bay Resort is in response to the growing appeal of all-inclusive vacations.

Creating a plan for Divi’s St. Maarten property follows the successful implementation of an all-inclusive option at the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort in Aruba. Divi Resorts, which operates 10 properties across the Caribbean, also has significant experience in the all-inclusive sector with three of its properties operated solely as all-inclusive vacation destinations. Visit www.divilittlebay.com.

The Crane Launches New All-Inclusive Plan

Earlier this year, we sat down Wednesday with Kristen Sauter-Moore, president of Destinations of Distinction, LLC, the marketing firm that represents The Crane hotel in Barbados, and learned of the popular Caribbean resort’s new all-inclusive plan.

The Crane quietly launched its first all-inclusive plans about two weeks ago in an effort to capitalize on the new market that Sandals Barbados, which is currently closed for renovations, is expected to bring to the island. Sandals purchased Couple Barbados back in August of 2013 shortly after the all-inclusive giant purchased La Source Grenada. 

“With Sandals coming to Barbados, we just thought we should try to compete in this market,” says Sauter-Moore. “We also anticipate increased airlift because of the arrival of Sandals. We have seen it already in Grenada. That’s the benefit that we see from this and we also think competition is good for everyone.”

The all-inclusive plan will include all premium, top shelf beverages and access to all restaurants. However, the hotel’s Japanese restaurant, Zen, will use a separate pre-fixed menu for clients who are under the all-inclusive plan.

Although the plan was officially launched already, Sauter-Moore says she will like for The Crane to have a more grand unveiling of the new offering and hopes for the hotel to host an event in New York City that would include top selling advisors, hotel representatives, tourism board members and other tourism industry representatives. Visit www.thecrane.com.

First Palace Resorts Property in Jamaica to Open Early Next Year

Palace Resorts recently announced its newest property, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, the first Palace Resorts property located outside of Mexico. Expected to open in early 2015, the property, which will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation, is situated in the north coast of Jamaica, at the head of famed Ocho Rios Bay.

Set to undergo a $50 dollar enhancement in September, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande was acquired by Palace Resorts from Sunset Resorts Jamaica. Extensive renovations will include modernized guest rooms, overhauled meeting spaces, upgrades and redesigns of the common areas, restaurant updates, the addition of a FlowRider Double wave simulator, Wired Teen Lounge and more. Visit www.palaceresorts.com.

Dreams Brand to Expand to St. Thomas

Sugar Bay Resort & Spa will be rebranded as Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa in November

Apple Leisure Group’s subsidiary, AMResorts, is adding Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa to its resort brand management portfolio starting July 1. 

This is the fourth deal closed by the hospitality company in 2014, which has grown 20 percent in the past year. The contract also brings AMResorts’ award-winning brand, Dreams Resorts & Spas, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time.

AMResorts will assume doperations of the 294-room Sugar Bay Resort & Spa on July 1, at which point the resort began renovations to bring the property to brand standards. 

The project includes upgrading all guest rooms, with 100 rooms updated to Preferred Club level. Official rebranding to Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort & Spa will take place in November, making it the 12th property for the brand. Visit www.appleleisuregroup.com.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more updates on this story.

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