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Marriott has today announced that it has entered into a deal with Blue Diamond Resorts to incorporate 19 of its all-inclusive resorts into its Autograph Collection portfolio. The resorts are spread across six destinations and will add almost 7,000 rooms to Marriott’s current all-inclusive offering.
A Bit Of Background
It was August 2019 when Marriott first announced that it would be venturing into the world of all-inclusive resorts and at the time of that first announcement, Marriott confirmed that it had already signed management contracts for 5 brand new all-inclusive properties (expected to open between 2022 and 2025) and that its plan was to further expand its all-inclusive portfolio with a mixture of more new-builds and conversions of existing resorts.
The 5 new all-inclusive properties mentioned during that first announcement were as follows:
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic:
- 650-room Autograph Collection resort (2022 anticipated opening)
NIA, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico:
- 240-room The Ritz-Carlton resort (2023 anticipated opening)
- 400-room Westin Hotels resort (2023 anticipated opening)
- 300-room Autograph Collection resort (2025 anticipated opening)
- 500-room Marriott Hotels resort (2025 anticipated opening)
“NIA” is a new creation from a Mexico City-based real estate developer which is being designed as “a flagship, all-inclusive destination to feature four of Marriott International’s premium and luxury brand experiences in Riviera Nayarit”. The project site expands to approximately 220 acres along Mexico’s tropical Pacific Coast.
In October of 2019 Marriott announced that it had agreed to buy Elegant Hotels Group for approximately $130m that it would be folding the group’s 7 existing properties (all of which are in Barbados) into its all-inclusive arm. Here are those 7 properties:
- Colony Club
- The House
- Crystal Cove
- Turtle Beach
- Waves Hotel & Spa
- Treasure Beach
Marriott hasn’t provided a specific update on the new-build properties that it announced in 2019 and although the Elegant Hotels properties can now be found on Marriott.com, they still have to be booked by phone.
Today, Marriott has told us three key things:
- It currently has 9 open all-inclusive properties located across Costa Rica, Barbados, and Mexico.
- There are 5 all-inclusive properties in the pipeline in Mexico, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil.
- Courtesy of a deal with Blue Diamond Resorts, Marriott will be incorporating a further 19 all-inclusive resorts into its Autograph Collection portfolio, and it expects to have most of these properties fully within the Autograph Collection “by mid-2021”.
These are the resorts expect to join the Autograph Collection:
840-room Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa
343-room Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun
566-room Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Cancun
332-room Planet Hollywood Adults Scene Cancun
457-room Royalton CHIC Suites Cancun Resort & Spa
730-room Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa
320-room Royalton CHIC Punta Cana Resort & Spa
525-room Royalton Splash Punta Cana Resort & Spa
317-room Royalton Punta Cana Resort & Casino
168-room Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana
352-room Royalton White Sands Montego Bay
228-room Royalton Blue Waters Montego Bay
140-room Hideaway at Royalton Negril
407-room Royalton Negril Resort & Spa
290-room Royalton Saint Lucia Resort & Spa
166-room Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia
294-room Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa
294-room Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica
I have mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, I’m happy to see Marriott adding more options for travelers, I like the idea of having an all-inclusive option open to me with a chain at which I hold top-tier status, and I’ll be interested to see exactly how many Bonvoy points will be needed to book these all-inclusive properties and whether or not they offer any real value to someone looking to burn their points.
On the other hand, I don’t understand why Marriott is shoehorning these properties into its Autograph Collection. They’re very clearly not Autograph Collection properties. They’re mostly very large resorts that have little in common with Autograph Collection properties like the Grand Universe Lucca in Tuscany (which I wrote about recently), the St Ermin’s Hotel in London, the Stones Hotel in Bali, the Triada Palm Springs, or the Clancy in San Francisco, all of which are boutique properties with their own individual charm and designs.
Yes, it’s possible that the 166-room Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia and the 168-room Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana may have a boutique feel to them (I’ve never visited these properties so I don’t know), but there’s little chance that properties with 300+, 400+, 500+ and 800+ rooms will feel like Autograph Collection properties at all.
I can’t work out why Marriott didn’t create a new brand to cover all of its all-inclusive properties rather than muddy the waters with one of its more established luxury boutique brands. Marriott already has more brands than most people can name so one more wouldn’t make a difference.
It’s going to be interesting to watch how Marriott is going to explain to guests why it thinks that an 800-room resort (complete with sound pool music, poolside Zumba classes, and bingo callers) offers the same aesthetics and vacation characteristics as a luxury city-center boutique hotel with history oozing out of its walls.
There’s definitely a space for all-inclusive properties within Marriott’s portfolio but that space is definitely not within the Autograph Collection.
Marriott will be adding 19 more all-inclusive properties to its all-inclusive collection in 2021 so we’ll soon be seeing more Marriott resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua, and the Dominican Republic. For some reason, however, Marriott has decided to incorporate all of these properties into its Autograph Collection and that’s a decision that I’m struggling to understand.