Thirty years is a long time to be with one company. Especially in the cyclical business of hotels where trends come and go, design schemes change and properties are bought, sold, then sometimes even bought again. So when Carlos Cabrera, a 30-year veteran with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and its current senior vice president of field operations, says that never in his tenure has he seen such activity as with Hyatt right now, you tend to hang on every word. And, when he suggests an altogether new Hyatt brand is on the horizon, you lean in a little closer.
Travel Agent got a glimpse of the flurry to come at
the grand opening of the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center &
Spa in Weston, FL. After a $100 million renovation, the
hotel is raring to go and, according to Cabrera, it's a harbinger of things to
expect from Hyatt.
"We're really trying to actively grow and further
establish our brands," explains Cabrera. The Caribbean
tends to be a point of interest for many hoteliers and Hyatt is no exception.
The 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad is slated to open in Jan. 2008 after
three years of construction, a part of a mixed-use development project along
the waterfront of Port of Spain, Trinidad's capital. Subsequently, Hyatt Regency
Curaçao will open in 2009. The 350-room property will be the largest hotel
on the island.
Other Caribbean development
could be in the works. "We've pitched deals in Barbados
among others," says Cabrera. "There have been a lot of discussions
because we want to actively grow in the Caribbean.
We've kind of shrunk there."
Part of that compression can be chalked up to two Hyatt
closings in Puerto Rico, DoradoBeach and Saramar.
"The hotels were old and inferior products by today's standards,"
says Cabrera, though noting that Hyatt still owns the DoradoBeach's
property, and that more than likely the company would develop something there.
Stateside, Hyatt is committed to growing its select-service Hyatt
Place brand, which are conversions from the AmeriSuites brand it acquired
two years ago; and Summerfield Suites, its entry into the extended-stay
sector. "The two brands are having explosive growth," Cabrera
gleefully says. "We're looking to have 500 Hyatt Places in the next couple
Hyatt has some other noteworthy projects brewing, and if all
come into fruition, Hyatt will be closer to attaining the level of growth
needed to stay competitive with the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world.
Hyatt's Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino in Las Vegas will have more
than 1,000 rooms and 1,600 condo units. The property will be the first Grand
Hyatt brand in Las Vegas.
Crossing eastward, Cabrera says that Hyatt is looking into a new project in Miami's South Beach. He couldn't
elaborate on it, but alluded to a room total of about 400. In New
York, Hyatt made a pitch to build a 75-story hotel that
would accompany the $1.6 billion expansion of the JacobJavitsConvention Center,
scheduled for completion by 2010. Cabrera said Hyatt is in the running along
with two other hotel operators for the contract.
Further intriguing is the trend of Hyatt's buying
properties. While many chains such as Starwood and Hilton have been selling off
properties, Hyatt still owns a third of its portfolio in the U.S., part of
Hyatt Equities. Cabrera says that currently every Hyatt Equities
property is in some stage of renovation.
That penchant for acquisition remains a constant for Hyatt.
The company recently purchased London's Great
Eastern Hotel, which will become one of the Hyatt brands, and according to
Cabrera, just bought a building in New
York. Its exact location was not disclosed, but we
did learn that it is tentatively being called "458" and that
it will be converted into a new style of hotel. "A new Hyatt brand is
being discussed," Cabrera intimated, "so it's an exciting time for