How Mexico Hotels Are Revamping Their Brands

Barcelo Maya Grand Pool

Mexico’s top hotel companies are following through with last year’s big reinvention trend. They’re spinning off brands, re-naming collections and otherwise refining their market appeal.

Some examples are close to fruition. Take AIC Hotel Group’s new adults-only UNICO 20˚87˚ concept, debuting in March on the Riviera Maya.

Other brands are in a major expansion push. Foremost among them is Mexico’s largest hotel concern, Grupo Posadas.

“We’re experiencing one of the best moments of the company. We have lots of projects in the pipeline under construction. It’s very challenging but also very exciting,” Grupo Posadas Commercial Director Rafael Lizarraga tells Travel Agent.

Grupo Posadas begins the new year with a newly-created hotel collection in place. La Colección is comprised of 13 beach resorts in top Mexican destinations. They include premier properties (both all inclusive and EP) such as Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun.

The flagship Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun is part of La Colección, as are sister properties in Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. The latter recently announced hospitality industry veteran Alain Berthelot as new managing director.

“Obviously each resort will be branded individually, but everything will be advertised under La Colección. The marketing will show who we are and what Mexican hospitality with an upscale touch means,” said Lizarraga.

While the La Colección regrouping is significant, it’s expansion that Lizarraga is most excited about.

“In 2017 we expect to open 30-40 more hotels. That means we will have two or three every month. In our pipeline, we have Live Aqua San Miguel del Allende, Fiesta Americana in Oaxaca and properties in San Luis Potosi, Guadalajara and Veracruz. We will have a Grand Fiesta Americana Mexico City in the Santa Fe neighborhood. Our goal is to end 2017 with almost 200 hotels in the portfolio. We want to be operating 300 properties by 2020. It’s very aggressive, but we’re working very hard,” said Lizarraga.

One destination Lizarraga singles out is the Pacific coast enclave of Huatulco.

“Huatulco is one of those destinations where we have no presence. But we’ve closed on a hotel there. It will be a Fiesta Americana all inclusive family-oriented property. It will have 280 rooms and open in mid 2018,” said Lizarraga.

The company is even expanding into the U.S., with Live Aqua projects announced for New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Dallas. A Live Aqua will open in late 2017 or early 2018 in Chicago.

Another hotel company in the news is Barceló Hotel Group. Based in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the venerable Barceló owns or manages over 100 properties in 20 countries. It’s recently announced a restructuring to add three resort brands. And it plans to invest $120 million in refurbishments this year.

Travel Agent spoke with Juan Perez, senior vice president of sales U.S. for Barceló Hotel Group Latin America.

“The company has been thinking a lot about next steps. The decision was made to change the hotel portfolio from one single brand to multiple brands. This is what many of hotel companies are doing now,” Perez tells Travel Agent.

Under the multi-brand strategy, three new brands join Barceló Hotels & Resorts: Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts; Occidental Hotels & Resorts; and Allegro Hotels.

“Competition is so intense. Clients get confused if they don’t know exactly what they’re getting right now,” said Perez.

Accordingly, each of the brands targets a distinct niche.

Royal Hideaway has for many years been an iconic brand. It was the first adults-only all inclusive on the Riviera Maya. We had only one hotel within that brand, but now we’re adding hotels in Spain and Europe. Royal Hideaway is for the upscale market. You have butlers and other personalized services targeting the most exclusive type of client,” said Perez.

As for the other new brands, Perez notes:

“Barceló is another upscale type of hotel where we have very successful elements such as U Spa. It’s very oriented to wellness. For many years, this was our flagship brand with properties such as the Barceló Maya Grand Resort on the Riviera Maya.

The Occidental properties are in Mexico and Latin America as well as Europe. They’re oriented more toward activities. And Allegro hotels are for those on a budget.”

Though Barceló’s origins date back 85 years, it recognizes the need to change with the times.

“People want to feel interconnected when they travel to Mexico. Authenticity is so important these days. We want every stay to be an important interaction with the local economy, culture and gastronomy. It’s a cliché for hotel brands to say they will make you feel at home. If you want to feel at home, you can stay at home. We want to focus on delivering experiences to clients,” said Perez.