Coronavirus changes as all-inclusive resorts re-open

Hilton Playa del Carmen has partnered with Lysol to address coronavirus concerns
Hilton has partnered with Lysol for additional coronavirus protections

With many countries opening up very slowly after the coronavirus / COVID-19 closures in March, all-inclusive resorts are starting to re-open as well. Similar to how every business you’ve ever given your email to has decided to let you know they are making changes, every all-inclusive resort is making changes due to the coronavirus. While the differences vary resort to resort, here are the changes that are being implemented by most all-inclusive resorts:

Reduced capacity at the resort

Guests at all-inclusive resorts generally stay on the property, so social distancing would be difficult for many resorts if they were booked to capacity. Many resorts are planning to keep capacity at 50-70%, at least when they initially open, so that restaurants and other public areas.

This is to allow increased social distancing in public areas. All-inclusive restaurants, bars, pool/beach areas, etc. will be redesigned so that people in different groups are at least 6 feet apart. A full resort likely could not operate with reduced seating in all public spaces without severely impairing the guest experience.

More reservations required in more areas

Some all-inclusives pride themselves on not requiring reservations for dinner, but as they start re-opening, expect to see reservations required for more things, especially anything that could result in people congregating or crowding an area. Any restaurant, even buffets, will probably have seating times, and expect to see non-traditional areas like gyms and even some bars require reservations as well.

A stronger cleaning practice to prevent coronavirus spread

All-inclusives, like all hotels, will ramp up their cleaning schedule of common areas, restaurants, etc. More sanitizers will be used, areas wiped down on a very frequent basis, and

Staff will almost certainly be universally required to wear masks and gloves for anyone that may have guest interactions. Hopefully the resorts enforce that fairly strongly. So far, it appears that guests will not need to wear masks except for activities that are high-risk for spreading coronavirus, such as going up to a buffet, but that will likely vary resort to resort. Speaking of buffets…

Buffets will be completely different – if they are even available

Buffet at the Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana
Buffet at the Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana (Photo Credit: Riu Resorts)

Not all resorts will bring back buffets immediately. Unico 20 87 has indicated that the buffets will not be available, whereas Riu Resorts has stressed that they will still be a key part of their food program, although will be many changes.

Many of the ‘family-style’ servings will be changed to pre-plated dishes. More “show cooking” stations (think the omelet bar at breakfast) will be introduced. Masks and gloves will now be required while serving yourself at the buffets. All of which is designed to minimize contact between guests.

Contactless experiences with staff

One common item all resort updates I’ve read have stressed is most activities that engage a staff member with the guest will now be contactless, such as room service delivery or check-in/check-out. If you’ve been to the grocery store, expect to see more of those plexiglass walls in place in reception and at other key areas that involve staff and guests talking at a close range.

The other thing that will likely be reduced are activities that encourage guests handling common objects, such as beach volleyball. Expect to see more activities that reduce the amount of touching between guests such as yoga or line dance lessons instead of salsa lessons.

The takeaway

Going to an all-inclusive this summer or fall will likely be very different than going to one before COVID/coronavirus became an issue. They will try to keep the experience worth the cost and as close to normal as possible, but in this new normal, changes will have to happen for at least the next few months.

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Ben Duffy
Ben has visited all-inclusives for years, enjoying the ability to watch the ocean from a Bali Bed with a fresh margarita in hand and not a care in the world
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