Categorized | Hotels

Fairmont experiments with cruise-like hotel meal plan…

Posted on 09 November 2011


A pool at the Fairmont Mayakoba, which for the first-time ever, is offering a food-and-beverage package for its luxury customers.

How are high-end resorts in Mexico competing with all-inclusive resorts that have lured a greater share of travelers in this uncertain economy?


Well, in the case of the luxury Fairmont Mayakoba Riviera Maya, it’s meeting its all-inclusive rivals halfway.


A first for any Fairmont hotel, this particular Fairmont is testing a food-and-drink package that lets luxury customers pay one price for their room plus one of their most unpredictable expenses.


Hotel general manager Ian Robinson doesn’t expect the package to be wildly popular. Still, he thinks it could serve an important purpose by helping to retain business.


“We noticed since the recession that we’re losing some ground to some of the more upscale all-inclusives, and we want our market share back,” he tells me.


The Fairmont Mayakoba Riviera Maya has come up with a new strategy to compete with rival all-inclusive resorts.


The Fairmont Mayakoba is located in Riviera Maya, where roughly three-quarters of the area’s 37,000 hotel rooms are all-inclusive, Robinson says. Non-all-inclusive properties include resorts run by JW Marriott, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Westin and InterContinental.


How does the package work? Think cruise ship


Robinson likens the package to a cruise ship. (Check the hotel’s link for the package to check prices for specific dates.)


Once you pay for the package, you can go to any restaurant at any time of day. You can order alcohol. If you choose to eat at the Fairmont’s highest-end restaurant that serves imported meat and seafood dishes, you’ll pay a surcharge and then eat as much as you want.


The hotel is selling the “all-inclusive” package at $429 per day for a family of four (with children over age 5) for what typically is considered worth $740 of room rate, food and drink per day, retail. Kids under five eat free.


The package excludes sale of alcohol by the bottle. “It would be hard to control” if customers were ordering two bottles of Cristal at $150 a pop, he says.


You’ll also find limits on some cocktails or glasses of wine. If you want a scotch, for instance, you’ll receive Johnny Walker Red; if you want Johnny Walker Black, then you’d have to pay for it.


“You won’t get well drinks,” Robinson says. “When you order vodka, you’ll get Absolut.”


The package is officially being sold through December 21, but Robinson expects to extend it through shoulder season, or the end of April. He’ll make the final decision next week.


Anything else included?


For now, the package doesn’t include mini-bars, room service or golf, although Robinson’s considering adding golf at some point.


“The world has changed over the last two, three years in terms of how people are booking,” he says. “Hotels that survive are the ones that adapt themselves to the shifting consumer’s idiosyncrasies.”


Other Fairmont hotels watch experiment


The Fairmont hotel brand’s corporate headquarters is watching Robinson’s experiment, and it’s attracting interest from other Fairmont resorts. By early next year, Fairmont could have a handful of hotels in sun destinations that offer a similar package, Robinson says.


“They are waiting patiently to see how the test case goes,” he says.

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