In a market crowded with sprawling all-inclusive resorts, many in the same budget range, how do you tell one apart from the other? The company behind Hard Rock Hotels is hoping one of the world’s best-known brands may be the ticket. After a successful transition to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, the company has been making a similar switchover in Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and the Riviera Nayarit near Puerto Vallarta.
These properties were originally run by Palace Resorts, so I first heard about them at a press conference I attended in Puerto Vallarta in 2012. With so much competition from other resorts and a set of amenities that can be seen as pretty similar across the board, they wanted to shake things up with a different concept. Bringing in a well-known international brand name was one way to stand out. Eventually Hard Rock Hotels passed 30 properties, however, and started running them all themselves.
The Hard Rock Punta Cana has been a big success, hitting 90 percent occupancy in a resort that has a staggering 1,800 rooms. The resort’s owners say the 83% worldwide brand recognition for the Hard Rock name has been a big factor, plus they see it swaying people who would not normally go all-inclusive to give it a try.
In terms of actual changes beyond the sign out front, expect the remodeled resorts to have flashier rooms, much more live entertainment, and weddings set up by a fashion designer to the stars when they switch over. Expect more emphasis on a younger-skewing club atmosphere and less on the typical cheesy all-inclusive stage shows. Naturally the places will be stocked with music memorabilia.
First to open was the Cancun Hard Rock, currently known as Cancun Palace. (That’s the pool bar below.) Then it was followed by Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta in Nuevo Vallarta, just north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. You can book a room here.
Next up was be the ginormous Hard Rock Riviera Maya, which combined the former Aventura Cove Palace and Aventura Spa Palace. In all there are than 1,200 rooms, one part for families, the larger one (with four restaurants and bars) to be adult-only. The adult part will also have “a grotto pool that will become a nighttime club experience.”
Here are a few more consumer-friendly amenities you won’t have to shell out extra for:
* Unlimited long distance calls from the guest rooms to Mexico, the continental United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe.
* Included Wireless Internet in-room and throughout resort public areas, all at no cost, or included Internet use via resort business centers and lobby computers.
* Unlimited wine by the bottle, all with 85 point ratings and above, from highly rated wineries around the world.
* Unlimited top shelf drinks featuring brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Johnnie Walker (red and black labels), Chivas Regal and Bacardi, among many others.
* Double Jacuzzi in most rooms
Since this post originally went up, Hard Rock Hotels of Mexico has taken over and rebranded hotels in Los Cabos–converted in 2018–and a new-build city one in Guadalajara.
To watch the progress, see Hard Rock Hotels.
Check out detailed reviews of luxury hotels in Mexico.
Story by editor Tim Leffel, photos courtesy of Palace Resorts.