No longer limited to tropical beach destinations, premium all-inclusive resorts can be anything from safari lodges to ski resorts. But they all claim to offer authentic, memorable and immersive experiences that set them radically apart from traditional all-inclusive holidays.

Top Tip...

“It’s not often you can return home from a holiday having discovered a new talent. From calypso dancing to steel pan drumming - premium all-inclusives have it covered”

CLARE WALSH, TRAVEL WRITER

What’s the difference?

Shifting global economic factors, a new generation of savvy and well-educated travellers and changing client expectations demanded that luxury be re-defined - and the premium all-inclusive model responded.

Now several luxury resorts worldwide not only include gourmet dining and top-shelf alcoholic beverages, but authentic and memorable travel experiences, indulgent spa treatments and daily activities.

However, the major attraction of premium all-inclusives is that clients can leave their wallet tucked away in the safe, reassured that everything is paid for.

Sarah Lake, Sales Executive for VLH Travel expanded on what it is she believes puts the company’s resort in Mauritius into this category: “Heritage Awali Golf and Spa Resort has as standard five restaurants for dinner, premium drinks and champagne by the glass, but the Premium package sets it apart because it gives a spa treatment each day, an upgraded minibar, a quad biking excursion and one lobster dinner per stay.”

In a similar vein, several of Sandals’ premium all-inclusive resorts across the Caribbean offer unlimited land and motorised watersports, while certified divers are entitled to two complimentary dives daily. At its resorts in Jamaica and the Bahamas, private offshore island adventures are also included.

Premium all-inclusive resorts are also a way for clients to indulge in a holiday that lets them focus on their interests. Take The Body Holiday in Saint Lucia, where health-conscious clients are afforded the use of a wellness centre, a range of treatments, an on-site nutritionist and tailored fitness plans.

A further advantage of premium all-inclusive resorts is that they cater to multiple consumer types in one property, making them ideal for families. With the rise in multi-generational travelling, clients have the reassurance that there will be high quality amenities for every age group.

Resorts in the Balearic and Greek Islands are popular options for families due to the short flight times. Ikos Olivia in Halkidiki, for example, has a comprehensive kids’ club offering everything from arts and crafts to sports and cooking, while adults can choose from options such as zumba, pilates, snorkelling and hiking.

Expanding into other areas

It’s not just the Indian Ocean and Caribbean that offer premium all-inclusives. The Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand, for example, includes activities such as Mahout training, jungle trekking and elephant yoga, while Amankora Resort in Bhutan offers guided excursions through remote valleys and holistic therapies.

The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is another emerging option great for both families and couples with a growing selection of luxury all-inclusive properties. Just 45 minutes from Dubai’s international airport and offering year-round sun, it’s an ideal destination for clients wanting an Arabian escape.

Premium all-inclusive holidays can also be an option for those dreaming of visiting bucket list destinations that would otherwise be off-limits. Bhutan, for example, does not allow travellers to explore unaccompanied and insists they are on pre-paid itineraries. A premium all-inclusive resort, therefore, allows guests to have a safe and authentic experience but in luxurious surroundings.

What the experts say

“The growth of the premium all-inclusive has been seen in the Maldives as a solution to the UK market seeking more value for money. Originally premiered by Lily Beach Resort, which in the last few years has seen over a 20% increase in sales for Osborne & Ebel, we have seen other properties enter this growing segment like Constance Moofushi and the upcoming OZEN at Maadhoo”
ANGELA ARTITZONE, OSBORNE & EBEL

“Due to the nature of the Maldives, prices can be quite high when purchasing food and beverages when staying on another board basis. All-inclusive plans in the Maldives offer not just food and drink but many extras such as non-motorised watersports, excursions and spa treatments”
DEBORAH WADHAMS, SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER TRAVEL 2

What’s new

Accommodation: Sandals is adding five overwater suites to its private offshore island at its Royal Caribbean resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It is scheduled to open in autumn 2016. Each of the suites will have a private infinity edge swimming pool, a hammock for two hanging over the water and steps leading from the sundeck into the ocean. All of the suites will also include personal butler service.

Boutique hotel brand Elegant Hotels Group has acquired the Waves Hotel and Spa in Barbados, adding to its current portfolio of five premium hotels and a beachfront restaurant. The redesigned four-star all-inclusive wellness retreat will reopen in July with 70 guestrooms, restaurant, bar, gym and luxury spa with 18 treatment rooms.

Rendezvous has seen the completion of the second phase of it $12.5m renovations. It has also launched its new Malabar Beach Club.

The Body Holiday has renovated 52 of its guest rooms, while its Wellness Centre has also received a facelift. Five additional treatments have been added to the inclusive treatments menu.

Operators: If Only… has started to promote two new all-inclusive properties in the Maldives. Oblu by Atmosphere in the North Malé Atoll, Maldives, opened in November 2015, the all-inclusive plan includes a variety of non-motorised water sports. They are also about to start work with Ozen by Atmosphere, opening in July.

In May this year, AMResorts will open Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa in Mexico.

Where to book it

Hayes and Jarvis has a promotional offer for seven nights at the five-star Heritage Awali Golf and Spa resort, Mauritius. It costs £1,561pp in a deluxe room based on two sharing. The price includes daily spa treatments and a variety of sports and activities.

Classic Collection Holidays offer seven nights for a family of four at Ikos Olivia, Halkidiki, Greece from £7,118. The price based on two adults and two children sharing a panorama junior suite on an all-inclusive basis and includes return flights from Gatwick (other UK departure airports available) to Thessaloniki and private transfers. It departs May 28.