Hard Rock’s New All-Inclusive Rocks the Riviera Maya

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The new Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Hard Rock Hotels’ grand opening for its new property in Riviera Maya, Mexico, was a smash—literally. Twenty celebrities, executives and dignitaries gathered at the resort’s nightclub, grabbed guitars and smashed them to smithereens as hundreds of spectators cheered them on.

The Guitar Smash has become Hard Rock’s signature grand-opening act. At the May 4-6 event, it followed a star-studded red carpet event and preceded a concert by legendary rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his Kings of Suburbia band.

There was a lot to celebrate. The sprawling resort is Hard Rock’s fourth all-inclusive; two others are in Mexico (Cancun and Riviera Nayrit) and one is in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing for the Hard Rock All Inclusive Collection, said the company plans to add several more such properties in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean.

At 1,264 rooms, the Riviera Maya property is the largest of the three in Mexico—with the added distinction of having two separate “hotels within a hotel,” as Maduro put it during a press conference for visiting travel writers.

One side of the resort, Heaven, is for adults only (over 18). The other, Hacienda, is “family-friendly”; its special touches include the Little Big Club, which gets regular visits from kid-favorite characters Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine. The over-18 crowd gets to play exclusively at the par-72 championship golf course, the fitness center and the Caribbean’s largest spa, which has 75 treatment rooms.

The two sections have their own separate pools, and Heaven’s bars and nightclubs are far out of the youngsters’ reach. There’s no fence between sections, but signs gently warn Hacienda guests when they’re “getting a little close to the edge” of Heaven.

Maduro said the two-in-one concept came about “for our destination wedding and honeymoon market.” Wedding parties wanted their families to be part of the celebration, but they also wanted to have some adults-only fun. The Heaven-Hacienda solution should appeal to anyone who wants to mix age groups.

It’s part of Hard Rock’s determined efforts to stand apart from its considerable competition. “We really need to separate ourselves from the other brands,” Maduro said. “We’ve had a lot of success, but the competition is increasing.”

Thus, Hard Rock emphasizes that its entertainment choices and truly all-inclusive price outdo what anyone else offers. “All day, all night, all included,” Maduro said, right down to the top-shelf liquor in the mini-bar.

Hits for travel agents
Hard Rock counts heavily on travel agents to spread the word and fill the rooms. Its agent incentive program, Amped, offers rewards including bonus commissions and various perks for the agents’ clients.

“I would say ninety-five percent of our tour operations are because of travel agents,” Maduro told Recommend in an interview. “We tend to be a complex product that requires explanation.”

There’s the $1,800 Limitless Resort Credit, for instance. While all the basics of a stay are covered in the all-inclusive price (even gratuities), the price does not include golf, the resort’s spa and salon services, certain tours and dining upgrades. These can be purchased with the resort credit, which increases in value depending on room type and length of stay.

New enticements planned for later this year include the Music Lab, a kind of rock ‘n‘ roll fantasy camp at which professional recording artists will teach guests of all ages how to play an instrument or mix their own jams.

Maduro and other executives are working to stay true to the company’s rock roots without turning anyone off, which means softening the “hard rock” in the Hard Rock name. Although you’ll see and hear plenty of rock reminders, you don’t have to be a groupie to enjoy yourself at any of the hotels. There are “quiet pools” in Riviera Maya’s Heaven, Maduro said, and the Punta Cana property has an even quieter pool just for guests who want to read. Hard Rock also deploys teams of “vibe managers,” whose job is to take the emotional temperature of various part of the hotel and adjust the music to fit the mood.

Asked to identify the ideal guest for a stay at Hard Rock Riviera Maya, Maduro demurred with a smile. “There’s not just one ideal, but all,” he said. “Anyone looking for a fun experience with a trusted brand.”

Hard Rock Riviera Maya’s Key Selling Points
According to Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing, All Inclusive Collection:

  • Two separate sections: one for adults, one family-friendly
  • All-inclusive price
  • Close to airport (about 50 minutes by car)
  • Great dining

For more information, visit hrhrivieramaya.com.