The UK has had a tough time of it recently, with the cost of living crisis forcing most of us to tighten our belts. The travel industry, not yet fully back on its feet after Covid, is again feeling the brunt, with holidays fast becoming a luxury that many can’t afford.
But there is one sector that is set to bounce back this year: all-inclusives.
Research published in ABTA’s 2023 Travel Trends report reveals that 29% of us plan to take an all-inclusive holiday this year, in an effort to keep costs down, with 40% aged 44 and under, and 57% young families.
“It’s well worth highlighting value-for-money when selling an all-inclusive,” says Leah Marshall, Director of Sales at Sandals and Beaches Resorts.
“One of the main benefits is that clients know how much their holiday will cost in advance. When agents book through our Unique Caribbean Holidays the price is guaranteed when the deposit is paid, so there are no unexpected increases.”
“The cost of living crisis, coupled with the economic challenges being felt in the UK, are seeing Brits gravitate to all-inclusive packages for their breaks,” adds Antonio Fellino, Managing Director of Travel Republic.
“Our data tells us that it can be around 15% cheaper to book an all-inclusive compared to a B&B or half-board holiday, and that’s before you factor in the cost of the additional meals and drinks which would have to be paid for.”
A survey by The Personal Travel Agents also revealed that 99% of customers will take at least one holiday in 2023, with 37% opting for an all-inclusive to avoid being landed with a hefty bill on departure.
Previously the domain of the fly-and-flop, with Groundhog Day-style buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners, the all-inclusive isn’t just having its time in the sun but is evolving to go beyond free ice creams and beers.
“Agents really should look at all-inclusive as being an option for all of their beach holiday customers,” says Paul Bixby, easyJet Holidays’ Commercial Director.
“Whether they’re looking for great value, family-friendly, beachfront, eco-certified or luxury, clients can now choose from a huge variety of features.”
“Ten years ago you never really found five-star hotels offering all-inclusive,” adds Nikki Hain, Product Manager at Premier Holidays.
“It was almost seen as a downgrade on a resort. Now that couldn’t be further from the truth, with many destinations offering five-star luxury all-inclusive with premium-branded drinks, spa treatments, Champagne and underwater restaurant experiences as part of the inclusions,” she adds.
In fact, the all-inclusive market is becoming so comprehensive that clients can now try scuba diving, sign up for photography courses, join art crawls or sip exclusive cocktails by the pool without paying another penny.
Ikos Dassia in Corfu even offers guests a complimentary Mini Cooper to explore the island with, while well-known wellness resorts are throwing in free spa treatments.
And have you heard of Cool Inclusive? This stylish all-inclusive concept has been adopted by the new Domes Aulūs property in Elounda, Crete – with its mixology evenings and cooking classes – and Ikos Resorts properties, where new Dine Out options include complimentary meals at local restaurants.
“Food tends to get a bad
reputation at all-inclusive resorts,” says Ricky Wason, Head of Product and Purchasing at Olympic Holidays.
“Guests can now choose from à la carte restaurants and live cooking stations without having to upgrade.
The cruise market is set for a bumper year, too, with keen pricing and the appeal of ticking several destinations in one go attracting the budget-conscious.
Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises have all adopted all-inclusive strategies in recent years, with fares including drinks, tips and wi-fi.
Those booking the top accommodation can also enjoy premium drinks and unlimited meals in fine-dining restaurants.
Princess Cruises now gives passengers the option to upgrade to a Princess Plus package that costs £30pp per day and covers their drinks, wi-fi and gratuities.
Prices for 2023 also appear to be in line with those a decade ago, despite eyewatering inflation and rising interest rates. Cruise.co.uk has discovered that the majority of voyages ranging from seven to 14 nights in the Mediterranean, northern Europe and the Caribbean were ‘cost consistent’ with those in 2012.
“This year is shaping up to be another year where cruise holidaymakers can take advantage of the incredible value-for-money and escape at sea offers,” says Tony Andrews, Deputy Managing Director at Cruise.co.uk.
“Prices for a 14-night Caribbean cruise, including flights, with P&O Cruises came in at £1,659pp in 2012; a matched 2023 sailing came out at £1,139pp, offering incredible value-for-money. That difference could be used to upgrade to all-inclusive and take the financial stress out of the holiday.”
Closer to home
According to Sheena Whittle, Head of The Personal Travel Agents, Europe topped the list of destinations customers will holiday to in 2023, demonstrating, she says, that money is a deciding factor.
“European getaways are likely to be very popular as they are often cheaper than going long-haul,” she adds.
ABTA’s report highlighted strong sales for all-inclusive holidays to the Canary Islands this winter, too, where overall scheduled airline capacity is reported to be up by a third on 2019 levels in response to high demand.
In the Balearics, Spanish hospitality group Palladium has added TRS Ibiza Hotel and Hard Rock Marbella to its portfolio, with Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sergio Zertuche reporting “a strong start” in each.
All Inclusive by Marriot Bonvoy, the all-inclusive concept launched by the Marriot Group in 2019, plans to build a number of new all-inclusive properties in Europe over the next few years across upmarket brands, including W, JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. All meals, drinks, wi-fi, entertainment, non-motorised water sports, health club access and kids’ activities are all included in the price.
Where to book…
TUI is offering all-inclusive seven-night breaks to the four-star db Seabank Resort and Spa in Malta, from £677.22pp. The price includes flights from London Gatwick in May 2023; transfers; and all meals and drinks. tui.co.uk