Gorgeous new all-inclusive resorts open constantly. Playa Mujeres saw an influx in the past several years, and there are other hot spots with many new all-inclusive resorts opening as well, such as Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. There are often all-inclusive resort opening deals when they open, offering savings of 20-60% off what it might cost to book a year or two after the resort opens. These new all-inclusive resorts do this as they need to get people in there so that they can build a buzz, get revenue, and have sites like TripAdvisor get loads of reviews to raise their ranking.
The issue is that there are downsides to booking these all-inclusive opening deals before the resort is actually open. I’ve put together 3 reasons below, but if you are seeing a deal that seems tantalizing, I have thoughts on what you can do to ensure your vacation isn’t ruined if serious teething issues crop up.
The resort postpones the opening
One common complaint is that new all-inclusive resorts can and often do have opening delays. It happens often, and can result in a sub-par trip to an offered alternative, or even some costs if flight dates need to be changed as a result of a postponed opening. Some resorts will offer enough comps and freebies in this instance that the risk may be worth it, but others may schlep you off to another resort, and it may not be one that is as good as what you booked.
If you do book, ensure that you have flexibility with your flight, and if you book a package through an agent, understand what your alternatives will be if the resort is not open in time for your vacation.
Resort still under construction
Even when new all-inclusive resorts first open, they are often not fully ready for a month or so after opening. When the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres opened, there were plenty of reviews of construction everywhere, some restaurants not open, and some rooms that seems like they were rushed to put together. They fixed those issues in time for my stay 7 months after opening, but it is not pretty for those who are there at the time.
A similar thing happened to the Hyatt Ziva/Zilara Cap Cana All-Inclusive when it opened in November 2019. A myriad of issues appeared unexpectedly for guests, including families being housed in the adults-only section, 2 of the 10 restaurants being open, rooms still under construction, and that’s just for a start. The kicker? Despite requesting some sort of compensation (a discount, resort credit, etc.), the hotel was adamantly not doing so.
Again, like the Grand Palladium above, the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana is now complete and is fabulous, but it was nothing close to paradise when it first opened. If you do book, ensure you have a refundable rate, as some new all-inclusive resorts may not be willing to refund you if they are open, no matter how many parts of the resort are still being finished.
The final issue with booking one of these deals is the unknown: You are left imagining what the resort is like based on favorable renderings and marketing claims made by the hotel with no reviews to provide a more objective opinion of the resort. Yes, you can make guesses based on what they say in their communications, but expect last-minute changes may occur and they may not provide compensation if something changes for the worse between what they promised and what is actually there on opening.
I shouldn’t be fully negative here: Booking new all-inclusive resorts before they open can offer a fantastic deal that you may never see again. But go in being flexible and know that you will need to ‘go with the flow’ moreso than staying in an established resort.