“In our kingdom, things happen in a different way than they do at the average all-inclusive,” said Juan Carlos Calderon, corporate director of sales in Canada at Palace Resorts.
The kingdom that is Palace Resorts opened its gates in Cancun, Mexico to nearly 160 Canadian travel agents this week (Nov. 1-8) to mark its fourth annual Megafam for Canada’s travel trade, and to show advisors what the “Palace difference” is really all about.
The week-long event, which PAX is covering exclusively, is being held at The Grand at Moon Palace, a new, uber-chic section that’s attached to the already well-established Moon Palace Cancun.
Branded as a medieval-themed, Game of Thrones-esque experience, the fun and informative trip (which reportedly maintains a waitlist of more than 600 people) was designed to give travel advisors a chance to see, smell, taste and touch everything that Palace Resorts has to offer.
All the while instilling the notion that all-inclusive vacations can still be a truly luxurious experiences.
“For many years, the all-inclusive was thought of as a budget-constraint option,” Calderon told PAX. “What we have done at Palace, over the course of 35 years, is re-shape the all-inclusive into a luxury vacation.”
From ensuring all meals use the highest quality of ingredients to sourcing artisan materials to build chic guest rooms and bold public spaces, the hotel chain relishes in the challenge of staying relevant by committing to ongoing renovations and innovation, said Calderon.
“These are resorts that give you all the taste and feel of luxury, but taken to the year 2020,” said Calderon.
Step into the kingdom
A family owned and operated business, Palace Resorts is comprised of 10 oceanfront properties in both Mexico and Jamaica.
The company’s first property, Beach Palace, was conceived in 1985 and officially opened in Cancun in 1986. The brand’s first and only Jamaican property, a Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, opened in 2015.
Palace also operates two high-end Le Blanc Spa Resorts – an ultra-luxe, Five Diamond, adults-only, all-inclusive brand in Cancun and Los Cabos.
“In our kingdom, our guests are treated as royalty,” Calderon told PAX (“kingdom” being the word Palace uses to refer to its properties).
A consistent theme across all Palace resorts is that all guests, regardless of their room size, have access to the same high-end amenities.
“That’s the difference with Palace – we don’t segregate guests by room category,” Calderon said. “The only difference you may see is in your room view.”
Guests also receive resort credits of up to $2,500 USD based on their length of stay.
It’s a ten-year-strong promo that pays for things like spa services and local excursions (such as visits to Tulum, catamaran tours or even zip-lining), simply for being a hotel guest.
Four nights at a Palace property generates $750 USD in credits, for example, whereas five to eight nights will add $1,500 USD to one’s folio (conditions and operational fees apply).
And travel agents take note: kids and teens under the age of 17 (who are sharing a room based on one paying adult) stay for free.
“There’s amazing consistency, quality and value for the dollars spent,” said Sharon Wilson, business development manager for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba at Palace Resorts. “We’ll never be the cheapest, but I think we offer the best value in the all-inclusive marketplace.”
“As if Le Blanc and Moon Palace had a baby”
The Grand at Moon Palace in Cancun – this year’s Megafam homebase – opened two years ago, and with 1,316 spacious, marble-kissed rooms (all of which come equipped with a balcony and double whirlpool jacuzzi tub), the property is a high-end extension of Moon Palace Cancun, which is known for its Sunrise, Nizuc and Jack Nicklaus-approved golf sections.
“The Grand at Moon Palace is as if Le Blanc and Moon Palace had a baby,” Diana Winters, business development manager for Ontario at Palace Resorts, told PAX. “It’s intended for people who are seeking a family-oriented vacation, but expect a higher-luxury feel with concierge-level service.”
The Grand’s 11 on-site restaurants serve everything from Italian to Asian to Steak to Mexican to even Lebanese cuisine (the owners of Palace Resorts, the Chapur family, though from Merida, maintain Lebanese roots).
When it comes to cuisine, the salmon is from Canada, the beef is Angus-certified. “Everything we do is of the highest quality and standards,” Calderon noted.
There’s nine pools peppered throughout the land (including adults-only hot spots, such as Unique Day Club), a glowing-green arcade called Wired (which you can’t really call a “kids club” because adults love it), a waterslide park, and even a “Secret Library” – a wall of books that, if you look closely, features a disguised door that, when opened, leads to a swanky Speakeasy Bar.
The main lobby is infused with relaxing scents of (what smells like) eucalyptus and cucumber, and almost all public space boast unique chandeliers, from a soaring installation made from hundreds of glass-blown crimson and gold petals to a ceiling of Edison bulbs hung with thick industrial rope.
And, oh, if there’s ever a marble shortage, chances are Palace used it all to build their floors and in-room jacuzzis.
“It’s a complete sensory experience,” Winters said of the Palace brand in general. “Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re going into something with champagne taste on a beer budget, expect beer. When you come here, you’re going to feel pampered and appreciated. You’re going to feel like a million dollars.”
In short: “You’ll never have buyer’s remorse,” Winters noted. “Everything you get here has been done with heart.”
“We want agents to be completely immersed”
This year’s Megafam includes visits to other Palace properties in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, and not to mention some epic and iconic theme parties at night (more on those later).
But the Megafam’s secret sauce, so to speak, lies in giving participants ample time to discover the Palace brand on their own, at their own pace.
“We want agents to be completely immersed in the product so they can give an exact interpretation to their clients,” said Winters.
The trip invites a mix of travel advisors who are both familiar and new to selling Palace.
“Our Megafam is a perfect opportunity for those who have never experienced Palace before,” Wilson told PAX. “Or, if you’re familiar with the product, maybe it’s time for a refresher?”
But securing a spot on the trip isn’t as easy as it sounds. As previously mentioned, the waitlist is very long.
“The demand is there,” said Winters, noting that she personally selects advisors who support Palace Resorts based upon the client base they serve.
She also invites a small percentage of travel agents who have attended a Palace fam before “as reinforcement,” as Winters put it.
“It’s different when you get that push from an industry peer,” she said.
Stay tuned as PAX brings you more exclusive coverage from Palace Resort’s Megafam Canada 2019 in Cancun, Mexico!
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