Week in Review: Hurricane Hits Caribbean, Hotels Have Strong Pipeline

While there was plenty of good news this week—including tons on the hotel front—the first major storm of the season hit several Caribbean islands this week, including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos.

The latest: According to Axios, about 60 percent of Puerto Ricans remain without power and 33 percent are still without clean water—nearly six days after Hurricane Fiona hit the island as a Category 3 storm. President Joe Biden, CNN reports, approved disaster funds for the island, directing federal aid for local recovery efforts.

In the D.R., hundreds of thousands remain without running water or electricity.  As for Turks and Caicos, AccuWeather says island-wide blackouts were reported on Grand Turk as well as other islands in the country. The storm is moving towards Bermuda and, eventually, to Canada, where it may be the strongest-ever storm to hit.

Newly appointed chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Council of Ministers & Commissioners of Tourism, The Hon. Kenneth Bryan, said in a statement, “I recognize that the needs of your family, friends and communities are your top concern right now, and I want you to know that the CTO stands ready to assist in whatever ways we can, if and when you need us in the weeks to come.

“As Islands in the Caribbean situated in the hurricane belt, we have all faced the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes and can relate to what you are going through. We know that there will be many difficult months ahead for those for those who have been most affected.

“But with our strong faith and commitment to one another's well-being, we will get through this. As a region, we have strength in our collective support systems and those of us who are unaffected by Hurricane Fiona, stand ready to help our regional neighbors who are in need.

Leisure Travel Driving Hotel Growth

W Sydney
A rendering of W Sydney (Photo by Marriott International)

Marriott International this week announced a slew of planned openings across the globe. In Asia Pacific, the company said it expect to open 14 new luxury properties by the end of 2023. Among the openings will be a Ritz-Carlton in Japan and Australia, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in China, The St. Regis in China, India and Indonesia, W in Macau and Australia, and JW Marriott in India, China, Thailand and South Korea. EDITION Hotels, Bulgari and Luxury Collection properties are also set to debut.

In the Middle East, Marriott is planning to add over 20 properties in the next 15 months across Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. New hotels will run the gamut but luxury properties will include such brands as The St. Regis, EDITION, Ritz-Carlton Reserve and the Autograph Collection.

In Italy, EDITION will make its brand debut on Lake Como in 2025. The hotel will have 145 guestrooms, including two penthouse suites, a lobby bar, a floating pool and multiple food and beverage outlets overlooking Lake Como with views of the Bellagio mountains. Back in the States, Marriott International opened its global headquarters in downtown Bethesda, MD. The 21-story building is the new workplace for corporate associates, supporting over 8,100 hotels in 139 countries and territories worldwide.

In other hotel news, Hyatt Hotels Corporation has a development pipeline of more than 20 planned luxury and lifestyle hotels opening in Latin America and the Caribbean through 2024, including several new markets. Driven by leisure travel demand, the newly opened and expected hotels and resorts mark significant growth milestones for Hyatt that include:

  • New planned openings in the region such as Secrets Tulum Resort & Beach Club (Mexico) and Hyatt Centric San Jose — Escazu (Costa Rica)
  • The planned introduction of the first Park Hyatt hotel in Mexico: Park Hyatt Los Cabos and Residences; and the first Andaz hotel in Mexico’s historic capital city: Andaz Mexico City Condesa
  • Expanded brand presence in new markets throughout Mexico that include Monterrey and San Miguel de Allende

Travelers can expect new hotels that cover the Andaz, Thompson, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Dreams, Hyatt Zilara, Secrets, Zoetry and the Unbound Collection to be part of the endeavor.

Hyatt also made some big changes near the top of its operations. Apple Leisure Group President and CEO Alejandro Reynal, after three years with the company, will be departing September 30. Replacing him will be Mark Hoplamazian. As a result of Hyatt’s acquisition of ALG in 2021, it now offers one of the largest collections of luxury all-inclusive resorts in the world.

Secrets Impression Isla Mujeres
Secrets Impression Isla Mujeres (Photo by Hyatt)

Elsewhere in the all-inclusive space, IHG Hotels & Resorts announced that Kimpton will open its first-ever all-inclusive hotel in 2024.  Kimpton, together with the resort’s owner, Sunset World, and operator, Playa Hotels & Resorts, will open the new Kimpton Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park in the Riviera Maya’s Playa del Carmen. Guests can enjoy such amenities and activities as 11 culinary concepts, five swimming pools, private beach access, a spa and several family-friendly facilities.

Air Travel Is Up; Satisfaction Is Down

Travel intelligence company Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) released data showing ARC-accredited travel agency air ticket sales totaling $7.3 billion in August 2022, a 127 percent year-over-year increase. The average round-trip U.S. air travel ticket price declined for the third-straight month, coming in at $526—which represents a 5 percent decrease from July 2022, but a 32 percent increase year over year.

Month over month, August results showed that total sales increased 6 percent; total passenger trips increased 9 percent; U.S. domestic trips increased 11 percent; and international trips increased 5 percent.

Despite (or possibly because of) the increase in flights booked, air traveler satisfaction with North American airports continues to drop, according to the J.D. Power2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.” Among the top reasons are fewer/canceled flights, more crowded terminals and sparse food and beverage offerings. “The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

Trade Organization Updates

Several big moves were announced this week, including MAST Travel Network hiring Margaret Campbell to the newly created position of vice president. For the past six years, Campbell has been the senior director of marketing at Mayflower Cruises & Tours; now, she will represent MAST at industry affairs, conduct member trainings, contribute to sales, marketing and events initiatives and more.

Ensemble Travel Group also announced it has renewed its partnership with its largest member, InteleTravel. A member of Ensemble since 2018, lnteleTravel is touted as the world's oldest and largest host travel agency with a network of more than 80,000 independent travel advisors across the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Mexico.

The Family Travel Association (FTA), additionally, has formed its first partnership with a consortia: Signature Travel Network, a member-owned community of leading travel agencies, representing more than 10,000 travel advisors in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Mexico, New Zealand and the Caribbean. 

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