Bloomberg Línea — For years, hotel developers have cashed in on Central America’s appeal as a sun and beach getaway destination for travelers from the United States, Canada and Europe.
With demand growing, the region’s tourism industry is now also making the leap to all-inclusive, luxury and high-end ultra-luxury resorts.
“Luxury is now an experiential concept rather than a physical one. A good bed, a good bathroom, a well-designed hotel is something that is taken for granted,” said Carlos Hernandez, CEO of Pellas Development Group, which has developed resorts in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
He was speaking at SAHIC, the leading hotel and tourism investment forum in Latin America and the Caribbean, held recently in Cartagena, Colombia.
“Central America and Latin America have potential for such hotels, but it takes time, and air transport and security have to be considered,” Hernandez said.
The hotel supply is diversifying
Costa Rica is an example of a destination capable of boosting high-end luxury. The Central American country has 62 five-star hotels, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
The hotel supply keeps diversifying. Gencom and Mohari Hospitality raised $130 million in construction financing for Nekajui, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve on the Papagayo Peninsula.
The resort will comprise 107 hotel rooms and 36 signature ultra-luxury residences.
Also in that country, on the Atlantic coast, the Habitas Santa Teresa, will start operating this year. The project developers aim to preserve wildlife and say they will use local materials. The development will include a beach club, a surfing center and a spa.
A new Kimpton resort will open in Honduras this summer on West Bay Beach on the island of Roatan, becoming the third Caribbean resort for the San Francisco, California-based hotel brand.
The hotel will feature four dining options, a beachside infinity pool, spa, fitness center and more attractions that promise a luxurious tropical island retreat feel.
Margaritaville —a hotel and resort concept created by Jimmy Buffett in Florida— recently opened in Belize near one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
The boutique-style residential complex is in a secluded location on the outskirts of Ambergris Caye, accessible only by boat, right next to the second largest barrier reef in the world.
The property has a mere 55 suites, ranging from the one-bedroom Ambar suite to the two-bedroom oceanfront penthouse suite, officials said in a March grand opening.
Executives from Marriott International Inc. (MAR) said Belize has “great luxury potential” to develop a concept like the St. Regis Kanai Resort recently started in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
Sofitel, the French chain of hotels, opened the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo in Panama City in January, a property right in the old quarter of the capital and within walking distance of the Panama Canal.
The structure of this luxury hotel pays tribute to Panama’s history with halls and photographs that evoke the carnival era, the construction of the Canal both in its French stage and later at the hands of the United States, up to its widening.