TORONTO — In terms of movers and shakers in the hotel industry, Playa Hotels & Resorts has got to be among the head of the pack. With five brand new resorts in Jamaica, not to mention two others in Punta Cana coming in fall 2019, the company is shaking things up with new developments and hotel alliances that further expand its reach across the Caribbean.
In this week’s edition of Friday Five, we chat with Rose Cosentino, Vice President Sales – Canada about Playa’s most recent moves, the importance of the Canadian market, and how travel agents can stay up to date with all the latest news.
1. Earlier this year, it was announced that Playa and Hilton signed a new strategic alliance. Can you tell us a little about how the deal came about, what it includes and what you hope it will lead to in the future?
Yes, we announced a new alliance to develop All-Inclusive Resorts with Hilton. Our first three resorts are Hilton Rose Hall in Jamaica, which we had already acquired in Q1 of this year through the Sagicor deal. The other two resorts are the Hilton Playa del Carmen, formerly THE Royal (and everyone’s favorite resort), and the Hilton La Romana, formerly Dreams La Romana, which is in the process of being remodelled (one half at a time) and will reopen as two incredible resorts: one for Adults and one for Families.
This new strategic alliance is consistent with Playa’s strategy of outsourcing branding, whereby we leverage their name in the marketplace, allowing for instant credibility and customer reach, including access to the 78+ million Hilton Honors Members. This alliance will bring together service excellence with global sales organization whereby broad geographic sales and marketing footprint are leveraged. It also allows for reinvestment to bring an even better product to the marketplace, and offers another price point for customers between Panama Jack Resorts and Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara Resorts, again allowing us to target a broader audience.
2. How would you define Playa Resorts?
Playa Resorts is the overarching corporate name that not only owns its resorts but also manages them, making us unique in the all-inclusive space. We leverage international brand names such as Panama Jack, Hyatt, Hilton, Jewel and Sanctuary for brand recognition.
Our journey began in 2006 when we acquired a number of hotel resorts and had a third party manage those resorts. Fast forward to 2013 when we began to operate/manage our resorts starting with the now Hyatt Zilara Cancun, Panama Jack Cancun, Panama Jack Playa del Carmen, Hilton Playa del Carmen, Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, and Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall. Since then we’ve also included the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, and Hyatt Ziva Cancun.
Since our IPO in March 2017 we have expanded our portfolio to build from the ground up the new Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana (set to open late fall of 2019), and the newly renovated Sanctuary Cap Cana.
In Q1 of this year we acquired five resorts in Jamaica, including the 4 Jewel Resorts and Hilton Rose Hall, which we own and manage. On Nov. 20, we officially took over the Hilton La Romana, one of the resorts that we owned and did not manage, and now we have our Playa team in place and operate this resort as well.
3. How important is the Canadian market? And how are you reaching out to Canadians specifically?
Canada represents an important market to our overall contribution to the business, especially with so many gateways that serve all the destinations we have resorts in. We work with every Canadian tour operator who offers our product and continue to work closely with them to provide opportunities to participate in their campaigns and promotions. Canada is so important to us that we recently announced a new addition to the Canadian BDM team: Christian Roussin who is well known in Quebec. So in total, our team has grown with Freddie Marsh handling Western Canada, Amanda Morris in Ontario, and Christian in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
4. What do you want travel agents to know about the brand, selling opportunities and agent-focused initiatives?
Travel agents should know that they can sell any of our brands/resorts with 100% confidence that their customers will experience the best in class in service, accommodation, and food & beverage. Our way of saying thank you to agents is our very rewarding AgentCash program & Aim for the Stars. Our BDMs continue to host exclusive fams for agents throughout the year, plus there are webinars, in-office training and our very famous workshops.
5. What’s the biggest news coming out of the Playa camp for 2019?
Playa has lots in store for 2019. We are so excited for the opening of Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, which we built from the ground up! This super resort complex opening in fall of 2019 will set new standards for all to follow. Each resort boasts 375 all-suite accommodations, all of which have a view of the ocean. Additionally, Playa will be launching a brand-new travel agent booking engine and rewards program, so stay tuned!
For more information go to playaresorts.com.