The Secret To Booking An Entire Resort All For Yourself — Without Paying Extra

Palmaia House of Aia

Dozens of resorts across the world open every year, offering travelers more options when booking a vacation—and also increasing their odds to have an entire property all to themselves. It’s equivalent to buying out a property privately, only for this occasion, you just pay for your reservation, and it’s perhaps the best hotel booking tip, and we have the secret to booking an entire resort all to yourself.

So how is it possible to book an entire resort or property all to yourself?

When a new resort officially opens, it won’t necessarily have guests right away. Due to unpredictable delays, like construction, troubleshooting or hiring enough staff, resorts keep their opening date extremely flexible and don’t give a concrete grand opening until weeks or at least a month in advance.

Imagine a resort saying they will open May 1, then run into several hold-ups, having to postpone to a later opening, thus annoying booked guests who already paid for flights and took off vacation time.

Resorts try to avoid this.

Now, when a new resort is confident it can start accepting guests at a specific date, that’s when they’ll announce their official grand opening, often weeks or give or take a month in advance— but they don’t expect guests right away. Travelers plan their trips months in advance, so it’s too late to have them, and new resorts rarely show up in booking platforms until weeks, even days, in advance, so months out, booking isn’t an option.

Furthermore, many travelers use hotel review sites to make a decision on booking a resort, so if the resort hasn’t had many guests (which it won’t when it’s new), travelers could wait a while until reviews start coming in.

If travelers strategize right, one single reservation—whether a solo business traveler, a couple, a family or a group of friends—could have the entire new resort all to themselves, without seeing other guests, as if they bought out the resort privately.

The benefits of having an entire new resort all to yourself

Booking a resort within the first month of its opening works to your advantage (better if it’s the first two weeks). You will likely have the entire resort all to yourself, which is a perk if you hate crowds. Going for a romantic getaway? You’ll feel like it’s a private vacation, and the perks are endless.

Think about it. You check into a luxury resort that has 200 to 400 rooms. Because nobody has booked yet, you are upgraded to a top suite, you get discounts at restaurants and the spa, and you have the pool and hot tub all to yourself. No screaming kids, no pool-chair hogging, no waiting, no inconveniences. You’ll also have plenty of staff give you dedicated attention. It’s like having your own personal, private resort.

We recently checked into Palmaia, The House of Aia, in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, a month after it had opened (with 11 friends). Out of the 314 rooms, there were only three other rooms outside our party booked for the duration of our five-night stay. We only saw the only guests at breakfast. There are four pools, and we had them all to ourselves (we never saw the other guests at the pool). The resort is on a sprawling beach, which we had all to ourselves. It was as if we booked a private rental—only we had the entire staff and all the amenities without sharing them with any other guest.

I have also booked resorts within weeks (even days) of opening, and have had it to myself, like Casa Kimberly in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, Tambo Del Inka in Cusco, Peru, and Amanoi in Vietnam. There were literally no other guests at the time since I had booked within two weeks of opening dates. This is my best hotel booking tip to you.

So how do you get a resort all to yourself?

As I mentioned, you must book within a reasonable time of the new resort’s official opening date. To find new resorts opening in a destination you want to travel to, visit the destination’s CVB website, which always has news on opening hotels and resorts. Once you find one you want to check into, and it’s opening in the near future, you can sign up for that resort’s email list and follow their social media accounts, which will announce an official opening date as soon as they have it.

You can also call the property. Quite often, a resort will not yet be open to the public, but they’ll still have employees working to open on time. This includes front of house, sales/marketing and public relations.

Another hotel booking tip? Go off season.

Pick a resort that’s opening in a destination during its “off season.” Off season is when the least amount of people travel there (like summer in Aspen, fall in coastal Mexico, Chicago in winter). Not only will flights be cheaper, the chances of nobody checking into the resort are higher. My friend and I went to Kudadoo in the Maldives in September, which is the rainy season. For three nights, there was only one other guest on property, and it didn’t rain the entire time.

BTW: If you are traveling in the near future, make sure you get the right luggage (time for an upgrade, anyway, right?) I love Samsonite. It’s always been reliable and affordable for me (and I’m a travel veteran). You can take a look at Samsonite’s new luggage line on Amazon.

OK, now back to booking a resort all to yourself.

There is one big disadvantage to going to a resort within the first weeks of opening, and that’s “opening kinks.” As the same for a restaurant or adventure park or cruise line, hotels and resorts need guests’ feedback, responses and experiences to determine what they’re excelling at and what they can work on. Not everything goes smooth within the first few weeks of opening at a resort.

Perhaps the resort is open, but one of the restaurants is in its final stages, or maybe the gym is still under construction and due to open after you leave. When looking to stay at a resort within a few weeks of opening, you can always call, email or send messages on social media to the resort to find out what may not be open if you book.

Here’s a list of resorts recently opened or opening within the next few months of 2020.

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts, Riviera Maya, Mexico 

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, HI

LEGOLAND® Pirate Island Hotel, Winter Haven, FL

Rosewood Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands

The Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Resort & Spa, St. Thomas

Conrad Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

The Ranahan by Welk Resorts, Breckenridge, CO

Kimpton Bozeman, Montana

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, Greensboro, GA

Alaia Belize

The Ben West Palm Hotel, West Palm Beach, FL

Have you had an entire resort to yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and if you want to offer a hotel booking tip.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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