Boutique hotel Thompson Playa del Carmen will offer 119 rooms and a rooftop pool. // © 2015 Thompson Hotels
Feature image (above): The all-inclusiveHyatt Ziva Cancun will open this fall. // © 2015 Hyatt Hotels
Hotel development on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is unstoppable. In 2014, Cancun welcomed a record 4.8 million visitors, and that number is expected to rise this year. The region also saw its highest occupancy rate last year, as well as top average daily rates, according to hotel data benchmarking company STR.
Given such demand, it’s no surprise that more hotel brands are joining in on the action. New resort developments have been almost exclusively of the all-inclusive sort — upcoming openings include AMResorts’ Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, Hyatt Ziva Cancun and Oasis Hotels & Resorts’ new boutique hotel The Pyramid at Grand Oasis, located at Grand Oasis Cancun resort.
Now, the European plan (EP) sector is quietly following suit with copious developments set to open through 2016.
“There is definitely room in the marketplace for luxury EP brands,” said Stephanie Diehl, owner of Freepoint, Ill.-based travel agency Travel Designed by Stephanie, which specializes in all-inclusive bookings. “While all-inclusive resorts are extremely popular, some travelers prefer EP hotels, particularly those in the luxury market who can be very brand-loyal. This segment of travelers tends to want what it perceives as exclusive experiences, outstanding dining, privacy and an extremely high level of personalized service.”
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has long been aware of the Yucatan Peninsula’s success with leisure tourism. The company has seven properties located throughout the region to date, and another four are on the way.
The 156-room Westin Cozumel will open next summer, followed in 2018 by the 120-room Sheraton Cozumel Resort, which will offer all of the brand’s standard accoutrements, such as the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed and the Link@Sheraton tech lounge. Additionally, guests will have direct access to the island’s coral reefs — a great perk for scuba divers. Starwood also recognizes the growth of the luxury travel sector in the region.
The brand plans to open two properties in Riviera Maya: The St. Regis Kanai Resort, Riviera Maya and W Kanai Retreat, Riviera Maya will both open in 2018.
On the heels of Hyatt Hotels’ new all-inclusive Ziva and Zilara brands is Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen, which will open later this month and be company’s first EP-branded property in the destination. Designed by Mexican architect Sordo Madaleno, the 314-room hotel will boast Maya-inspired decor and floor-to-ceiling windows to show off its beachfront location.
“The opening of this hotel represents our desire to grow our brand in a thoughtful and meaningful way, and to build brand presence in places where we know our guests are traveling,” said Kurt Straub, area vice president of Mexico for Hyatt Hotels.
Sbe Entertainment Group will debut in the Yucatan in 2018 with its 150-room SLS Luxe Hotel in Cancun. The property will be home to an additional 150 residential units, plus restaurants and a nightclub. This opening is part of a larger Mexico expansion that includes four more hotels, all to be built by privately-held Mexican real-estate development and investment company Armar Group.
Thompson Playa del Carmen will open doors this fall as part of a mixed-use project from parent company Commune Hotels & Resorts and Mexico-based real-estate development firm Thor Urbana.
Set on two lots, Thompson Playa will offer 119 rooms and easy access to the beach and the 2-mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare known as Quinta Avenida. The boutique hotel will also offer a 30,000-square-foot rooftop with an infinity pool.
“We’ve definitely had our eye on Mexico, and we feel that the style and sophistication of the Thompson Hotels brand will translate well to Playa del Carmen’s beach resort location,” said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts. “As the fastest-growing resort town in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is now the place to be for upscale development. We believe there is an opportunity to carve out our own niche with a courageous hotel personality that offers a total lifestyle experience: remarkable design, seductive programming, a stimulating social scene and, above all, thoughtful, exceptional service.”