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Friday,  June 21, 2024 8:25 PM 

On Location: "It's not about what we do, but how we do it": Playa celebrates 10 years of all-inclusive

On Location: "It's not about what we do, but how we do it": Playa celebrates 10 years of all-inclusive
From left (of Playa): Gregory Maliassas, EVP & COO; Dayna Blank, EVP & chief people officer; Bruce Wardinski, chairman & CEO; Ryan Hymel, EVP & CFO; Fernando Mulet, Chief Investment Officer; Dean Sullivan, SVP, sales & marketing. (Pax Global Media)
Nancy Benetton-Sampath

Vice-President, Media / Executive Manager

In the realm of luxury all-inclusive hospitality, Playa Hotels and Resorts has established itself as a strong contender all-inclusive resort space and one that has become well regarded by Canada’s travel trade.

Since 2013, strategic partnerships with brands including Hyatt, Hilton, and Wyndham Alltra have enabled Playa to successfully blend luxury, leisure, and cultural immersion to transform vacations into experiences.

This achievement, among others, was celebrated at Playa Resorts' 10th anniversary of all-inclusive excellence Wednesday night (Aug. 30) at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun in Mexico where company executives were in attendance.

PAX was there to get an on-the-ground look at the action, and keeping with the company's family culture, colleagues from the regional hotel teams and corporate offices joined the party virtually.

Playa Hotels and Resorts celebrated its 10th anniversary of all-inclusive excellence Wednesday night (Aug. 30) at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun in Mexico. (Playa)

From humble beginnings

Playa's growth from a few hotels to a globally recognized all-inclusive company with 25 resorts and more than 15,000 team members was celebrated during the anniversary event, with a promise of continued progress.

Bruce Wardinski, chairman and CEO, acknowledged the company's "amazing" 10-year journey despite "a few bumps in the road" and the pandemic. 

However, Wardinski emphasized the company’s collective strength and unity. “We came together as a company, as a group of people. We made it and we're stronger now, better now than we were before the pandemic," he said. 

With a decade of successful operations now under its belt, the resort company proudly shared that it has not only redefined the all-inclusive experience through its strategic brands but has also raised the bar for the industry.

Wardinski's resounding message indicated that while the first decade was an accomplishment for Playa, the future holds even greater possibilities, and affirmed: "There is more to come.”

Pushing the boundaries

In an interview with PAX, Dean Sullivan, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, shared how a decade ago, an all-inclusive offering was a primary motivator for travellers and a defining feature when selecting a vacation option.

Sullivan emphasized that guest feedback and associate guest interactions have revealed a shift in motivation.

"The driving motivator now for that vacation is not an all-inclusive, it's an experience,” he shared. According to Sullivan, the all-inclusive offering, while still important or “great to have," has become secondary to the experience that Playa now provides, with enhanced cuisine, entertainment, and wellness programs.

Dean Sullivan, senior vice president of sales and marketing, (Pax Global Media)

Sullivan specifically shared with PAX that Playa is continually seeking innovative ways to enhance guest experiences. 

The company will continue to automate the arrival process, utilizing iPads and online check-in to ensure a seamless experience for travellers even before they reach their property of choice.

Playa also remains focused on optimizing its app to enhance guest comfort throughout their stay, including restaurant reservations, activity bookings and more.

Additionally, future innovations are likely to include improvements in Wi-Fi bandwidth to further enhance connectivity so that guests can blend work and leisure seamlessly.

Always service from the heart

In her role as executive vice-president and chief people officer, Dayna Blank took the stage to focus on what makes Playa exceptional: “You - Our people.”

Blank said Playa’s story is much more than awards and rankings. She explained that while Playa has numbers and achievements to talk about, “it’s about the people who poured their heart and souls into making Playa Hotels and Resorts what it is today.”

Blank reminded event attendees to reflect on the values that have been the cornerstone of Playa’s identity:

“Our commitment to humility, integrity, respect, diversity, responsibility, and love, has shaped our culture and set us apart. It's not just about what we do, but how we do it with authenticity with purpose, and with genuine compassion for our colleagues, guests, and local communities."

The hand-over-heart gesture symbolizes Playa's commitment to "always service from the heart," a tangible reminder of its commitment to authentic care and meaningful interactions.

Playa's service is from the heart. (Pax Global Media)

A celebration of partnerships

When it comes to Canada’s travel trade, Sullivan shared with PAX that “Canada has always been and will remain a huge component of our success," particularly due to the strong relationship travel agents have with their clients. 

Gregory Maliassas, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, shared that Playa’s success would not have been possible without the support of its guests, travel industry partners, and stakeholders.

Playa says its success would not have been possible without the support of its guests, travel industry partners, and stakeholders. (Playa)

He concluded:

“We are extending a heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you believing in us and being part of this remarkable journey. As we embark on the next phase of our journey, we're committed to raising the bar even higher. Our dedication to innovation, guest satisfaction, and responsible practices will continue to be the driving forces behind our brand success."

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