When the vacation package started, the concept was to package air, hotel, and sightseeing/car rental into one vacation and save more money by bundling it together. Over time, the vacation package changed. You could still create the "vacation package" but the savings came more from whatever happened to be on sale that got bundled into the package and not necessarily because of the fact you booked it all at once and with the same company. Over the last few years, that has changed and the industry has essentially gone back to the future.
Many hoteliers are now offering land only rates, and air inclusive rates. These air inclusive rates are further discounted as a reward so-to-speak by booking your air and land thru the same source. You won't see a breakdown of how much the air was and how much the land was, but instead a packaged price for both booked together. Now, truth be told, we aren't stupid. You can very easily look on the airline website and see how much those flights cost and ultimately find out how much the hotel component cost. But the fact remains; you saved money by bundling it all together.
I often get asked, "why would a hotel do this, we aren't going to swim to Cancun, of course we will be booking air." Yes, you are right. However, this is designed for you to book it all together in one place. It helps the hotel hide how low they are willing to go to get you into their hotel. Personally, I love this concept. It's how the industry started and it's how it made vacationing affordable for much of the middle class. It allowed more people to travel and in some cases, it allows many people to stay at a hotel they otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford.
So how do you find these rates? Well, that's the tricky part. Hotels and resorts don't actively promote that they have these rates. Travel agents will always know which resorts tend to offer them, and online retailers will always give you the packaged air inclusive price if you search for an air/land package. If you just search land only, it will deliver a price but not make mention that you could save more by also booking air at the same time.
It's a great little piece of information to know so keep it in mind the next time you start researching. Compare land only pricing with air/land searches for the same resort if you plan and book your getaway yourselves.