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Hospitality giant Marriott International is expanding in the Caribbean and Central and South America with 22 new hotels opening this year in 12 markets. The properties reflect the company’s extensive all-inclusive resorts.
We spoke recently with Louise Bang, Marriott’s regional vice president of CALA (Caribbean and Latin America) about the company’s growth and its expanding brand collection.
TP: Caribbean destinations have proven very attractive to U.S. travelers post-outbreak. How is Marriott performing in the region?
LB: The Ritz-Carlton Turks and Caicos has been incredibly successful. We’re seeing high loads and strong bookings on premium suite room categories, as well a lot of repeat travelers. The territory is already such an easy hop from the U.S.
We opened the St. Regis Bermuda last year as well. I think Bermuda overall as a destination has a lot more potential from the US and from international markets, although air is sometimes a challenge.
TP: How are Marriott’s South American properties performing?
LB: In Sao Paulo, we took over what used to be a Four Seasons and made it into a JW Marriott with a stunning architectural design. The restaurant there has an incredible gastronomy. The hotel is opening in a whole new residential section of the city.
TP: Marriott now controls an array of brands and hospitality types. Where do you see the best growth opportunity among this diverse group of properties?
LB: I think our biggest [advancement] has been in the all-inclusive area. We already have a great array there, and we have our partnership with Blue Diamond Resorts.
TP: In which countries are your all-inclusive properties located?
LB: We already had 28 all-inclusive properties across the region in eight markets: Mexico including the Caribbean coast, Riviera Nayarit and Cancun, Grenada, Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic of course because [the country] is so big the all-inclusive space. At the moment we have them under the Autograph Collection, Delta and Westin [brands].
TP: What other properties are you opening in Central and South America?
LB: One of the highlights will be the Westin Porto de Galinhas in Brazil, which opened just last month. Brazil has a lot of travelers in-market and a big appetite for all-inclusives. This project brings the Westin brand more into this market. We also have the Westin Costa Rica that is operating as an all-inclusive.
TP: Are there other South American cities in Marriott’s portfolio?
LB: We already have a presence in Colombia’s capital cities, but we opened in Santa Marta a few years back. That has become a resort destination that is appealing to the Colombians themselves and international audiences. We are about to open the Marriott Barranquilla as well.
That opens a new destination for the Marriott Bonvoy travelers to enjoy as well as the coffee plantations [and] the rich heritage that Colombia has. It has a really lovely gastronomy as well.
TP: How is Marriott expanding in Mexico?
LB: Last year we opened the JW Marriott Hotel Monterrey Valle and we just opened the JW Marriott Guadalajara. It’s lovely to see how travelers are enjoying that brand.
In Cancun, we have a Marriott and a JW Marriott next to each other. The latter was refurbished just a year ago and a lot of travelers are going down there to enjoy a quick escape or getaway. Just this weekend I was at our Planet Hollywood in Cancun.
TP: What is the vision for company growth via the multiple brands?
LB: From a Marriott Bonvoy perspective we are trying to make sure we have the right product in the right location for the traveler in these times. If you think about our luxury portfolio brands, whether that is Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis or the W hotels, there are certain travelers who will travel to those brands for their leisure vacation.
They may be traveling to a JW Marriott for leisure vacation [but] traveling to a Marriott or Sheraton for their business, or vice versa. So for us, what has been really important is that through the range of the 30 properties we have that we have the right locations, with the right design, the right type of service and the experience that the customer is looking for independent of their travel purpose or destination of their choice.”