What's Next for Latin America in 2016

Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica, the second AMResorts property in the country, offers 202 luxury rooms.
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica, the second AMResorts property in the country, offers 202 luxury rooms.

Both South and Central America appear to have stronger appeal with younger clients. According to MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers, among those who have “Interest in Visiting International Areas/Regions During the Next Two Years,” 22 percent of Millennials cite South America and 19 percent of them name Central. Those numbers drop to 18 and 14 percent, respectively, among Xers and run progressively lower with Boomers and Matures.

One thing all age groups across the board heavily favor is chain hotels/resorts and, to a significant if lesser extent, properties with fewer than 300 rooms. Fitting the bill in both regards is Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica, the brand’s first hotel in that country and the second from Apple Leisure Group subsidiary AMResorts; Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica opened in January 2015.

Secrets Papagayo offers 202 luxury rooms, giving adults and couples an “Unlimited-Luxury” getaway in an intimate setting. With the ocean view of the Gulf of Papagayo, guests can enjoy the Secrets Spa by Pevonia, two pools and access to two beaches. Guests may partake in world-class sport fishing at the Marina Papagayo or spend a day shopping at Playas del Coco.

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On December 1, Hilton Worldwide opened the 172-room Hilton Garden Inn Montevideo. Roughly 20 minutes from Carrasco International Airport, it’s set within the upscale Pocitos neighborhood, with direct access to Montevideo Shopping Mall. In early 2016, the new 64-room Four Seasons Hotel Bogota is expected to join the recently opened Four Seasons Casa Medina Bogota.

Operator Outlooks

Cox & Kings’ annual forecast of “What’s Next” cites trends shaped by its “experience junkies” or “trailblazing clients,” as Scott Wiseman, the company’s president-The Americas, puts it. The luxury travel outfitter reports that South America is still the darling of the experiential traveler, with guests diving deeper and wanting to explore Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador. In Central America, Cox & Kings is seeing rising interest in El Salvador and Guatemala.

Wiseman also sees increased interest in family travel to South America. “Parents want their children to experience the thrill of safari,” he says in a written release, and so Cox & Kings created the Brazil Wildlife Safari and Peru & Galapagos: Legends & Explorations itineraries, as well as a Belize: Wildlife & Ruins program in Central America.

It’s safe to say Delta Vacations’ 2016 success will have a lot to do with Colombia as the tour operator recently announced the expansion of its presence in Latin America with the addition of vacation packages to Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin. Agents booking with Delta Vacations, the official vacation provider of Delta Air Lines, can now offer their clients a choice of more than 20 hotels and resorts in Colombia with a variety of accommodation levels to fit any budget. Brands include Best Western, Decameron, InterContinental, Karisma Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Occidental Hotels and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Delta currently offers daily nonstop flights to Bogota from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and New York’s JFK. Daily service between Atlanta and Medellin began December 19 as did thrice-weekly service between Atlanta and Cartagena.

Also on the airline front, LATAM will launch new service from Lima to Washington, D.C. in 2016. The airline is also awaiting regulatory approval to proceed with potential flights from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In December, LATAM inaugurated new routes from its hub in Lima to Montevideo, Uruguay; and Antofagasta, Chile.

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