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TORONTO — Seeing the success of Spain’s hotel companies in the Caribbean and Latin America, along with other competitors, U.S.-based hotel giant Marriott International announced in August 2019 that it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in all-inclusive resort product.
Marriott dipped its toe into all-inclusive waters with its Starwood Hotels & Resorts acquisition back in 2016, when Marriott assumed operations of its first all-inclusive property – the 406-room Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal in Costa Rica.
The August 2019 announcement included new management contracts with hotel developers who plan to build five new all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Latin America, to the tune of US$800 million.
The five resorts include a 650-room Autograph Collection resort in Punta Cana (2022 anticipated opening) as well as NIA, Riviera Nayarit which will include a 240-room The Ritz-Carlton resort (2023 anticipated opening); 400-room Westin Hotels resort (2023 anticipated opening); 300-room Autograph Collection resort (2025 anticipated opening); and a 500-room Marriott Hotels resort (2025 anticipated opening). Marriott says NIA will serve as a flagship, all-inclusive destination.
In October 2019 Marriott said it would buy Elegant Hotels Group in a cash agreement valued at US$130.1 million, further cementing its plans to stake its claim in the all-inclusive market.
Elegant owns and operates six hotels on Barbados, the majority of which are all-inclusive, including: Tamarind; Crystal Cove; Colony Club; Waves Hotel & Spa; Treasure Beach; Turtle Beach; and The House. It also owns and operates The Landings Resort & Spa in Saint Lucia.
And in November 2019 came word that Amaterra Jamaica Group had entered into a hotel management operator agreement with Marriott for a new all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. The 800-room flagship development will be located 40 kilometres east of Montego Bay airport on the island’s north coast and is set on three kilometres of white sand beach. Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2020 and be completed in 2022.
BEACHES TURKS & CAICOS
Of course, it wasn’t only Marriott making resort news this year.
In May 2019 the travel industry breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that Beaches Turks & Caicos would not close indefinitely, as previously announced.
Travelweek was at the popular resort in May and spoke with General Manager, Jamie McAnally, who confirmed the news.
“There were conversations that needed to be had and I think both parties agreed that it’s in everyone’s best interest to stay open,” said McAnally. “It definitely speaks to our commitment to staying on longer. We’re the largest private employer on the island, with nearly 2,000 employees who don’t have to worry now about the future.”
Previously Sandals had announced a proposed closing of the resort from Sept. 3 to Oct. 15, 2019, from Sept. 7 to Oct. 22, 2020 and again “for an indefinite period” starting January 2021. The resort went ahead with the Sept. 3 – Oct. 15 shut down for light maintenance and renovations, but scrapped the other two closures.
NEW RESORTS AND RECENT RENOS
Other notable hotel news items in 2019 included the opening of the five-star Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Bávaro; the brand new Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda in the D.R.; the new Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres; the all-suite Barcelo Maya Riviera; Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar, in Punta Cana; Havana’s Gran Hotel Bristol by Kempinski; Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica; Dreams Acapulco and Dreams Curacao; Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana; Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa; Royalton Suites Cancun; and many, many more.
Resorts debuting major upgrades and renovation projects included Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Riu Vallarta, Riu Ocho Rios, and Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun by Karisma, among others.
Watch for more year-end coverage in Travelweek Daily on Dec. 30th and Dec. 31st as we continue to look back at everything making headlines in 2019, from the proposed Air Canada – Transat deal, to the best oddball stories of the year.