Hard Rock opens new Dominican Republic resort

All-inclusives are hot, and why not? In uncertain economic times, they offer the security of knowing the bottom line before you leave home, since lodging, meals, unlimited alcoholic beverages, taxes, gratuities and most activities generally are included. Air/all-inclusive packages (Apple Vacations and FunJet Vacations are two big ones offering them to U.S. customers) can offer incredible savings.

So far, U.S. hotel chains have lagged far behind their Mexican, Jamaican and European counterparts in jumping on the trend. Probably in part because all-inclusives thrive in areas where labor and cost of living is cheap and maybe because the everything-paid resort was traditionally more in vogue among Europeans and others. The new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is the chain's first foray into all-inclusive resorts.

Now Hard Rock Hotels, best known for rock-themed casino resorts in Florida, Mississippi and Las Vegas, has joined forces with Palace Resorts to create what it calls the "ultimate all-inclusive" in the Dominican Republic. It's Hard Rock's first all-inclusive property.

The former Moon Palace resort has been redone and rebranded as The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. The 1,800-room resort officially launches Saturday with a Hard Rock signature guitar smash and performances by the Gipsy Kings, The Wailers and other groups.