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Friday,  April 19, 2024 10:23 AM 

“We've always got surprises up our sleeve”: Playa hosts VIPs in T.O., announces first Kimpton

“We've always got surprises up our sleeve”: Playa hosts VIPs in T.O., announces first Kimpton
From left (of Playa Hotels & Resorts): Amanda Morris, director of sales - Canada; Rose Cosentino, VP, sales. (Pax Global Media)

It seems like Playa Hotels and Resorts has to update its map every six months.

The owner, operator and developer of luxury all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic is riding a wave of new partnerships and beachfront properties – and expansion shows no signs of slowing down.

“It has been a very exciting couple of years for us despite the ugliness of COVID,” Playa’s Director of Sales for Canada Amanda Morris told PAX Monday night (Sept. 19) at Toronto’s stylish Constantine restaurant, where a VIP reception was held for tour operators and top-performing travel advisors. “We’ve grown a lot.”

Two new properties in Playa’s portfolio are weeks away from unbolting their doors.

Amanda Morris, director of sales - Canada, Playa Hotels & Resorts. (Pax Global Media)

There’s the all-inclusive adults-only Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya, a 291-suite “modern Mexican hacienda style” oceanfront resort, located about 40 minutes from Cancun International Airport, opening Dec. 1.

Morris, in fact, just returned from a hard hat tour of the remodeled property – a Playa takeover that’s in the final stretch of its completion – and “it looks incredible,” she said.

“It’s an incredibly lush area, close to Puerto Morelos, with a beautiful beach, gorgeous ocean, and lots of lush, mature vegetation,” Morris said. “It’s romantic and very secluded.”

From left: Jane Clementino, Travelsavers; Matthew Djorsev, Air Canada Vacations; Lucy Catalanotto, New Wave Travel. (Pax Global Media)

Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya stands on its own and isn’t attached to a family-friendly Hyatt Ziva, as seen in other destinations, like in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic. 

Playa has even thrown some pixie dust on its new hotel, adding upscale amenities like swim-out suites.

“I personally feel like it’s going to be our top honeymoon resort,” Morris said.

Also coming soon is the new family-friendly 229-suite Wyndham Alltra Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific Coast.

READ MORE: On Location - Wyndham Alltra Cancun is a “new all-inclusive way to travel”

Wyndham and Playa partnered up and launched a new resort brand, Wyndham Alltra, in October 2021. 

The all-inclusive concept caters to the upper-midscale segment and features both family-friendly and adults-only resorts.

The beach at Wyndham Alltra Riviera Nayarit. (Playa Hotels and Resorts)

There’s already Alltra properties operating in Playa del Carmen (for adults) and Cancun (for families). The new Wyndham Alltra Riviera Nayarit is just weeks away from its opening day on October 10.  

The refreshed property used to be Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta, so the bones are good.

“It’s a four-star product, but with us, it brings that level of consistency,” Morris said.

Kimpton's first all-inclusive

We thought the latest news from Playa was the announcement of its high-end Sanctuary Cap Cana property in the Dominican Republic joining Marriott Bonvoy’s Luxury Collection.

This adults-only paradise is unique, with 324 suites across 19 categories, from luxury villa to private island to Caribbean castle accommodations. (Click here to watch a video that PAX filmed at the posh property in November 2020).

The Castle at Sanctuary Cap Cana. (Supplied)

But as Monday night’s reception unfolded with tropical rum cocktails and oysters, even more Playa news was breaking.

Last night, it was revealed that Playa will partner with IHG Hotels & Resorts to open the first all-inclusive Kimpton.

Kimpton Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park” will bring “signature barefoot luxury” to Playa del Carmen in early 2024. 

The hotel, which originally opened in November of 2008, will feature an interior renovation of 255 rooms, suites and villas.

From left: Barbara Scrocco, Rose Cosentino, Robert Rizzo, Amanda Morris. (Pax Global Media)

In addition, it will feature 11 culinary concepts, five swimming pools, private beach access, a spa, a fitness centre and several family-friendly facilities, including a Kids Club and water activities.

There will also be a total of 26,200 square feet of meetings and events space across 12 rooms.

“Surprises up our sleeve”

“We've always got surprises up our sleeve,” said Rose Cosentino, vice-president, sales at Playa Hotels & Resorts. “We are still a growing company.”

Playa has other new-ish all-inclusive resorts in the market, such as the Yucatan Resort Tapestry Collection by Hilton in Playa del Carmen and family-friendly Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun. 

READ MORE: “Wow”: PAX visits the adults-only Yucatan Resort in Playa del Carmen

During the pandemic shutdown, the company also took time to upgrade things it already had.

This included enhancing its culinary, entertainment, health and wellness offerings (which, arguably, were already pretty solid in pre-pandemic times).

From left (of Playa Hotels & Resorts): Amanda Morris, director of sales - Canada; Rose Cosentino, VP, sales. (Pax Global Media)

“Our growth comes from the fact that our brands are so strong,” Cosentino said. “…and because our brands are well recognized. People feel confident, they feel safe.”

And despite challenges in the marketplace, from rising fuel and hotel costs to inflation to the stigma surrounding airport delays, business is booming.

“Our occupancy is at a level we've never experienced before,” Cosentino said. “Revenge travel is absolutely a real thing."

Speaking on current trends, Cosentino admitted that Playa isn’t immune to the rising cost of travel.

From left (of Trevello): Caroline Hay, national director of sales; Heidi Schnitker, professional development manager, Ontario. (Pax Global Media)

“It's more expensive, of course. But when you think about it, everything is. It’s not just a travel thing. It’s everywhere,” she said.

Playa has price points for everybody. But what Cosentino is seeing, these days, is that customers, generally speaking, are splurging on that upgrade.  

“People want higher end,” she said. “They’re wanting the two-bedroom villa.”

“Inflation, right now is affecting everybody. It’s affecting travel 100 per cent. But we're not seeing a slowdown.”

The complaints Cosentino screens these days actually have nothing to do with high prices. They’re related to the lack of inventory, she said. 

“My recommendation to agencies at large is that if your clients are thinking of travelling, you’ve got to get them on that bandwagon a lot sooner,” she said. “The pickings are slim.”

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