LATIN AMERICA IS GAINING INTEREST AMONG HOTEL DEVELOPERS AND TOURISTS, and major hotel groups such as Starwood and Hyatt are expanding in the region. Starwood Hotels & Resorts (www.starwood.com), in particular, has plans in Central and South America for several of its brands.
Starwood's W Hotels is scheduled to open its first property in South America during the second quarter of this year. The W Santiago will have 196 rooms and be part of a complex in the Chilean capital encompassing high-end retail and office space. Guests will have access to all of W's signature amenities, such as the "Living Room" experience (W lobbies are furnished like living rooms) and "Whatever/Whenever" 24-hour concierge service.
Onsite, guests will be able to enjoy a spa during the day and dance club at night. Situated in the heart of Santiago's cultural district, the W will be good for clients who don't want to drift too far from their hotel when they go out for entertainment. The hotel is expected to be one of the city's largest meeting facilities, with more than 37,000 square feet of event space.
In Central America, Starwood's Westin brand is slated to open the Westin Resort & Spa Roatán in 2009 on the Honduran island known for pristine water, white sand beaches and scuba diving. The property will have 164 rooms and be just 20 minutes from the international airport (which is a two-hour flight from Miami). It will be located within a village-style mixed-used development also offering individual residences and villas. The resort will be a nice fit for nature and soft-adventure seekers, couples and business travelers.
At a less deluxe level, Starwood has opened a Four Points by Sheraton Panama in Colón, Panama, 50 miles from Panama City. Phase one, which entails 138 guest rooms and all of the hotel's public areas, was completed in January. Another 105 guest rooms will open in phase two next January. For business events, the Four Points by Sheraton Colón offers a convention center with 8,000 square feet of meeting space and a fully equipped business center.
This year Four Points will also open its first hotel in Argentina: the Four Points by Sheraton Puerto Madryn, in the Patagonian province of Chubut, close to Peninsula de Valdez along Argentina's Atlantic coast. The Puerto Madryn property will feature 80 guest rooms, including eight suites, a ballroom, meeting rooms, a restaurant, a lobby bar and an indoor swimming pool.
Starwood's Sheraton division has a number of Latin America projects under way. In Argentina, the Sheraton Mendoza is scheduled to open in April. Mendoza is Argentina's fourth largest city, situated in the midst of a wine-producing region, and one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.
The Sheraton Mendoza will feature 180 rooms, including 19 suites, as well as a spa, health club, outdoor pool, all-day restaurant, lobby bar, approximately 10,500 square feet of meeting space and a business center.
Farther south, in Argentina's Patagonia region, the 120-room Sheraton Calafate will open sometime this year (a specific date has not been announced). It will sit directly on the shores of Argentino Lake and contain 120 rooms, a Presidential Suite and 11 other suites. Other facilities will include a ballroom, two meeting rooms, a business center, two restaurants featuring local specialties, a lobby bar and a lounge for the executive floors.
A little over a year ago, the Sheraton Panama Hotel & Convention Center opened in the Panama City area. Situated on Panama Bay, across from the Atlapa Convention Center, the hotel offers 345 rooms and 15 suites with views of the bay. Amenities include a fitness center and spa, a choice of restaurants serving international cuisine, a lobby bar with live music and ample facilities for events and conventions.
Starwood will introduce its exclusive St. Regis line to South America with the St. Regis Hotel & Residences, Buenos Aires, slated for a 2010 opening. It will be in the trendy, fast-growing neighborhood of Puerto Madero, which has more than 80 restaurants and outdoor cafés, as well as a nature reserve, landscaped parks and several museums.
Following the model of the original St. Regis in New York, the Buenos Aires property will feature the staples of St. Regis hotels, including luxury accommodations tailored to global travelers and round-the-clock St. Regis butler service. Trained in the English tradition, the butlers provide personal attention and help customize each guest's stay according to his or her tastes and preferences. The St. Regis Buenos Aires also will feature the Remède Spa, with eight treatments rooms, and two restaurants, a wine room, lounge, fitness center, swimming pool, more than 16,000 square feet of meeting space and a business center.
For additional information on any of these Starwood properties, contact Lucia Munoz, sales administrator for Starwood Latin America, at 305-865-1956, or Alan Duggan, vice president of sales for Starwood Latin America, at 305-865-1903.
At Hyatt Hotels & Resorts (www.hyatt.com), Patrick McCudden, the new senior vice president of real estate and development, Latin America, told Travel Agent: "We plan on embarking on an aggressive expansion strategy for Latin America and adding products from all of our full-service brands [Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Andaz and Park Hyatt] in major gateway cities and tourist destinations. Additionally, we would like to expand Hyatt Summerfield Suites and Hyatt Place in countries like Brazil and Mexico.
"Hyatt has a handful of hotels in the Latin American region," McCudden said, "and, based on the company's growth strategy, I'm excited to lead the development charge in this dynamic area of the world."
We also want to share with you news of an extraordinary hotel project in Cartagena, Colombia. Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi is creating the Tcherassi Hotel & Spa (www.tcherassihotels.com) in a renovated 250-year-old mansion. Slated to open in late December, it aims to be the most exclusive hotel in Cartagena, with only seven suites, a Wellness Center with four treatment rooms, five pools, a restaurant, a lounge and a boutique.
In Peru, the luxury hotelier Orient-Express will open an eco-lodge named Las Casitas del Colca on April 15. Each casita on the 60-acre estate will have a fireplace, terrace with private heated plunge pool, indoor and outdoor showers, and a glass ceiling for star-gazing from bed. Natural local materials are used in creating the furnishings and decor, such as Laja stone for floors and terraces. A vegetable garden onsite will provide ingredients for meals, and there will also be cacti, a prickly pear orchard, a trout pond and a farm with horses, alpacas, cows and rabbits on the property. Its Spa Samay will have valley views and offer sauna and treatments inspired by Andean culture. The Colca Canyon—which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon—is 100 miles from Arequipa in southern Peru. For more information, visit www.lascasitasdelcolca.com or call Orient-Express at 800-237-1236.