We explored the changing face of luxury in our May/June issue and the result was a real eye-opener: Luxury is not a one-size-fits-all—it’s an all-inclusive philosophy that we all take part in defining. For Susan Hanlon, VP meeting & incentive sales at Palace Resorts, luxury has taken on the unexpected form of “all-inclusive.”
“Palace Resorts has been a catalyst for change and truly redefined what an all-inclusive can and should offer in terms of luxury,” she says. To get the full scoop on how Palace Resorts is recalibrating the luxury scales, read on.
Prevue: Is there room for luxury in the sustainable/farm-to-table food & beverage trend?
Hanlon: Yes, there is definitely room for luxury in the sustainable/farm-to-table food & beverage trend and Palace Resorts has proven that the two can go hand in hand with incredible and delicious results. Palace Resorts is committed to working with local vendors as much as possible for local produce and in 2008 invested 75 million dollars to obtain its own distribution and services center, CEDIS, located near its signature property, Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort. Palace Resorts uses CEDIS in order to make the brand’s bread and homemade ice cream flavors fresh every day. The brand even created its own herb garden, where most of the produce offered at the company’s seven oceanfront properties is grown. For outsourced offerings, Palace Resorts is always working hand in hand with merchants to obtain the freshest products available for our valued guests. Not only do we ensure that our food is fresh and local, we take the effort to make sure that everything eaten is beautiful.
Do you offer any services or amenities that increase ROI or ROE for planners?
In regards to ensuring high ROI in the meetings industry, superior quality service and reasonable pricing set Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resort apart from competitors. Palace Resorts provides groups with unexpected perks such as complimentary WiFi, complimentary welcome cocktail receptions and private group check-in coupled with promotions that offer themed-events, rebates, discounts and more. It’s the kind of awe-inclusive value that keeps attendees smiling. With one flat rate for everything — meeting space, accommodations, food, drinks, and more — planners get a predictable budget and a guaranteed wow factor for the attendees.
What are some cultural venues that enhance meeting & incentive experiences on any budget?
At no extra cost, Palace Resorts conference department works closely with clients to custom design theme parties, focusing on the corporation’s messaging and type of event. During the planning process, clients also work with audiovisual experts on-site to help them bring all of their ideas to life with Palace Resorts state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and stunning event decorations. Palace guests can take advantage of complimentary Wi-Fi and make complimentary long distance calls to the U.S., Canada and landlines in Mexico from their guest room.
Additionally, the brand also provides groups with perks such as complimentary welcome cocktail receptions and private group check-in. We offer versatile meeting space in our resorts, but our signature property, Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort offers meeting space that is truly out of this world. Recently, the brand unveiled a multi-million dollar convention center, the Moon Palace Arena, as part of its $100 million renovation project. The multi-functional space includes eight versatile meeting rooms (approximately 11,000 sf each), exhibition area and foyer, an outdoor terrace for events, a mezzanine level with offices and boardrooms, snack areas, easily accessible loading docks, and the latest audiovisual equipment.
That’s not all that Moon Palace has to offer in terms of meeting space. Other options include the 55,850-sf Universal Ballroom Lower Level, which seats up to 5,000 guests; the 36,000-sf Universal Ballroom Upper Level; and the 26,800-sf Galactic Ballroom.
Charitable organizations have become a major addition to the MICE segment. At Palace Resorts the brand’s philanthropic organization, the Palace Foundation, is very involved in local efforts to improve the quality of life throughout the destination.
Volunteering opportunities offered by the Palace Foundation include the release of sea turtles into the ocean every summer, building wheelchairs that are then donated to the local community, and even FAM trips focused on corporate social responsibility that give attendees the chance to visit a special needs school to plant trees and make piñatas with children.
Has the definition of luxury changed over the past year?
Luxury demands have gradually increased for both leisure and incentive travelers. More and more travelers seek value along with their luxury experience. Competition has made resorts adapt to the luxury concept by raising the bar on their offerings; including entertainment, F&B, service and amenities. Years ago, all-inclusive resorts were not associated with luxury. When it comes to the all-inclusive concept, luxury now entails offering specialized services that cater to individuals seeking very specific offerings. From kosher and vegetarian options to gluten-free and molecular gastronomy, Palace has upped the ante on culinary offerings. Additionally, Palace Resorts has become synonymous with world-class entertainment, hosting concerts from international artists including Shakira, Usher, Ricky Martin and Michael Bolton; unparalleled service such a free WiFi, 24-hour room service, unlimited international calls; and personalized amenities including pillow menus, in-room aromatherapy, welcoming cocktails and more are just some of the brand differentiators that come together to offer a unmatched luxury experience.