Pre-pandemic, the all-inclusive resort fit a certain niche, and you got what you expected. But since the pandemic started, the all-inclusive model is more desired than ever, and the entire market around it is changing. Luxury hotels and resorts that never did all-inclusive plans are now adding them, and new all-inclusive resorts are becoming much more luxurious themselves.
Delayed after a false start just before the pandemic commenced, the Garza Blanca Resort and Spa, opened its doors as Cancun’s newest luxury resort in 2022. And while guests can opt for the “European Plan” for à-la-carte room and dining expenses, the majority come here for the all-inclusive plan, which really raises the bar for its neighbors along the Riviera Maya.
The resort is nestled along the white sand beaches of Playa Mujeres, surrounded by lush jungle trees on the west side and turquoise waters to the east, just north of Cancun but with a postcard view of the famous Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) on the horizon.
The distance from the center of Cancun is palpable with a much calmer ambiance and different set of priorities. The resort is especially popular with families but also couples and groups of friends. And the hotel hosts multiple weddings (but only one at a time) as well as corporate events and retreats.
Hotel managers also say they receive a number of long-term guests. While the average stay is approximately one week, some guests stay weeks or months at a time, especially over the last few months because of guests either choosing to avoid winter at home or work remotely from a more exciting location (or both). These guests staying longer might be more likely to opt for the pay-as-you-go European plan (rather than the all-inclusive), and can have groceries delivered on-site via Walmart.com (the nearest location is a short drive away), which can be quite appealing as most suites have fully-equipped kitchenettes.
“At the end of the day, what we’re looking for is to be able to be as flexible as possible—for either if you’re having a convention or group or reunion or a wedding—to be able to really accommodate to everyone, depending on your needs,” says Jessica Becker, public relations and social media coordinator for the Garza Blanca Resort and Spa.
Becker describes the resort as “an escape,” with an emphasis on family, food, and relaxation. And the property has a bevy of options for activities, wellness, and cuisine to keep guests occupied as much or as little as they please.
For example, guests can book a number of water sports, including snorkeling and kayaking tours, some of which are free as part of their all-inclusive packages. There are also multiple pools, including a family/kids pool, and an inflatable aqua park. Guests can also visit the hotel’s sister property, Villa del Palmar, next door for more dining and swimming options.
Guests seeking a more lively atmosphere can do so down by the beach at one of the swim-up bars or even the adults-only rooftop pool and bar. But the sound quality in the rooms and public spaces drown all of that out with ease for anyone seeking a more relaxing trip.
The spa offers an array of rejuvenating treatments and services, from massages and body scrubs to facials and aromatherapy. The spa also touts a blend of alternative medicine, such as ayurveda, techniques with technology, as demonstrated through treatments like electrostimulation and HydraFacial. Emphasizing the family focus, the spa also offers special treatments for children, including a joint parent-child facial session, in which both parties can learn about the different natural skin care products used for the treatment and they can sample them together.
“We have a lot of [families] and the little ones’ birthdays are here, so they get pampered. Maybe it’s the first time they have come to a spa. They sit there, on vacation. They get like this little kind of treat,” Becker explains. “We have something for every member of the family.”
And there is a state-of-the-art fitness center with Technogym equipment, open 24 hours a day, seven days per week, with the knowledge that guests have different daily routines (as well as varying travel schedules) so they can come and go as they please.
But the real draw of any all-inclusive resort is the dining program. Garza Blanca has a range of dining options, including the Rooftop bar and restaurant serving contemporary Mexican cuisine and the ground-level Gourmet restaurant, which has five menus—a special draw for groups that might have varying tastes and difficulty deciding on one place to eat.
The resort also has three onsite, sit-down specialty dining restaurants: Hiroshi, a Japanese restaurant with Robota-style grilling and barbecue techniques that is more street-style inspired, with skewers that can be customized for any dietary preference; the Bocados steakhouse serving cuts of Wagyu A4 beef (not included in the all-inclusive package, but available at a discounted price to those on that plan); and Dao, a rooftop Chinese restaurant that is open exclusively to Garza Blanca guests (and can’t be booked for reservations by outside parties).
The hotel also just launched its new mixology program, offered exclusively to all-inclusive adult guests, who can partake in both the creation and consumption of their favorite drinks, notably from the lofty Rooftop terrace bar with panoramic views of the beach and sea.
Of course, guests can learn to make some of the classic cocktails, from the Margarita to the Paloma, but also some of the resort’s new bespoke cocktails, such as the The Garza Blanca with mezcal, serrano chili, soursop puree, lime juice, and simple syrup; the La Piña La Coco with white rum, tuba foam, and tepache; and the Bocados Martini, made of vodka, Chambord liqueur, blackberries, raspberries, crowberry juice, and pineapple juice. Dedicated mixology classes are offered as an additional amenity to guests who stay in any of Garza Blanca’s expansive multi-bedroom oceanfront suites, the penthouse residences, or the penthouse loft residences.
One of the standout features at Garza Blanca is its array of accommodations. Each of the 452 suites is spacious and elegantly decorated, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea on one side or the jungle on the other. Guests can choose from a variety of room options, including suites with private plunge pools, swim-up suites, and beachfront bungalows. Guests visiting in groups, perhaps for a wedding or just a private trip, might opt for one of the multi-bedroom suites. And corporate event attendees can also look for more slimmed down suites, with all the amenities of most guest rooms, sans the standalone kitchenette.
Looking forward, the Garza Blanca will soon open Tierra Luna, a collective of standalone boutiques and eateries as well as a major event space (ideal for weddings and other outdoor celebrations for upwards of 200 people) near the entrance of the lobby. Right now, the antique-inspired carousel is already operating and open in the evenings to all guests. The project is expected to be officially completed in March.
And Tafer Hotels and Resorts, the parent company for Garza Blanca with multiple luxury all-inclusive resorts across Mexico, also will be expanding its footprint this year with additional locations in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya.
Rates at Garza Blanca Resort in Cancun start at $279 per person per night, which includes the all-inclusive gourmet culinary plan with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, 24-hour room service, and a dedicated experience host who can assist with almost any need, from reservations for restaurants and the spa to booking taxis to locations around Cancun.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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