Many people write me to ask when the best time to book their Caribbean all-inclusive vacation is, partly because people hear about all of these last-minute special deals. Well, while it is possible to get some really good last-minute resort rates in January, February, and March, the Caribbean doesn’t really work like many other hotel markets.
The best resorts get repeat visitors and fill up
If you visit a big city like Paris or London, it’s actually a great idea to book into a different hotel each time you go, because it allows you to see different parts of the city easily. So you might think that people book a different Caribbean all-inclusive resort each year, but the best customers actually don’t.
Here’s what tends to happen. People book their first trip to a given destination such as Puerto Plata or Ocho Rios, and they spend a week in their resort without leaving much. If they are satisfied, they will often book the same place the following year, and if they love the place they will almost certainly come back every year.
It’s a different style of traveling, and since people spend pretty much their entire time in the resort grounds, the only way people are willing to take a chance the next time if they were disappointed this time. So resorts know that keeping guests happy and coming back is the best way to stay full all season, and it allows them to raise their prices a bit each year as well.
The best places fill up first
So knowing that these resorts generate a lot of loyalty if they are good, you see that the better a resort is the better chance it will fill up very early. Especially for people who want to come during the peak weeks around Christmas, they will book their hotel in January of that year. And since the best places are filled up earliest, past guests know to book up early or they have to go to their second choice.
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see that a resort in Cancun that has half its rooms still available for the middle of January, probably disappointed many of its guests last year. It might also be new, in which case it could be a great bargain since it doesn’t have a large following yet, which means that booking new resorts could be a good strategy if you like to gamble a bit.
So shop around early and book the best deal available now
If you wait until two weeks until you want to leave you’ll pay more for your flights, but you’ll still be able to find a room at a resort. It just won’t be one of the best ones that guests like to return to each year. So with this in mind, book now, or if it’s too late for this year, book earlier for next year.