The lobby at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort // © 2015 Sandals Resorts International
Feature image (above): Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa Runaway Bay, Curio Collection by Hilton is a new property under the boutique brand. // © 2015 Jewel Resorts
When it comes to new hotels and resorts, rebrandings and major upgrades, the Caribbean sometimes goes through periods of relative inaction. Then comes a flurry of news, all pointing to the health of the Caribbean as a vibrant vacation destination. This spring is one of those ebullient times, with a flood of hotel news that will give travel agents plenty to sell in the coming years.
Spanish hotel chain Melia Hotels International has announced a $1 billion upgrade to the 226-room Braco Village Hotel & Spa. The Trelawney-based resort is Melia’s first in Jamaica. In December, the resort will reopen and will be rebranded as the upscale Melia Jamaica Braco Village. Melia’s eventual goal is to expand the resort and rebrand it as a Paradisus, part of Melia Hotels International.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts entered the Jamaica market with Azul Sensatori Jamaica in 2014. The company has now announced that it will open the Azul Beach Jamaica in Negril in 2016. The new resort will offer three restaurants, four pools and more than 150 suites with ocean views.
AMResorts is bringing its upscale Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts brand to Aruba, with an interesting twist. When it opens in 2018, Zoetry Isla Di Oro Aruba Wellness & Spa Resort will be one of the first properties in the Caribbean to offer overwater bungalow-style accommodations. The resort will have 126 suites overlooking a secluded inlet featuring sea views as well as outlooks of the surrounding tropical landscape.
A multimillion-dollar investment has transformed Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort into Sandals Ochi Beach Resort. The 529-room resort is billed as Sandals’ largest, with updated accommodations and refurbishments throughout, including the new Ochi Beach Club. There are seven new dining venues, adding up to a total of 16 restaurants. Two new venues in particular are attracting attention: Jerk Shack, where guests can enjoy authentic Jamaican jerk cooking, and a speakeasy-themed bar called The Rabbit Hole. There’s also a new All-Butler Village featuring Love Nest Dream suites and villas with private pools and luxurious amenities.
Two popular Jewel resorts in Jamaica have recently rebranded. Hilton Worldwide announced the signing of the two properties to its Curio Collection by Hilton brand of boutique hotels. The resorts will now be referred to as Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa Runaway Bay, Curio Collection by Hilton; and Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa Ocho Rios, Curio Collection by Hilton. Both will be the first Curio hotels in the Caribbean and will participate in the Hilton HHonors loyalty program.
One of the less-visited destinations in the Caribbean region is Guyana. This may change with the opening of Marriott International’s first hotel in the country. The $51 million Guyana Marriott Hotel Georgetown is in Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown. The hotel features 192 guestrooms and five suites, a pool, a restaurant and a pool bar and grill. There’s also Marriott’s signature interactive Great Room Concept, which creates public spaces to fill a number of needs, as well as 11 meeting rooms and 8,321 feet of meeting space
Travelers visiting Haiti will once again have the choice of an all-inclusive resort stay. Years ago, Club Med had a resort in Haiti, the Club Med Haiti on Haiti’s Cote des Arcadin. In time, Club Med moved on, and the resort became Club Indigo. The resort will now undergo another change, as it transitions into Royal Club Decameron Indigo, as part of the Decameron All-Inclusive Hotels & Resorts chain. The property will reopen in December 2015 with 390 guestrooms, four pools, a spa and three restaurants.