Palace Resorts Grows Portfolio

Company takes over four more hotels in Mexico

By: Lisa Jennings

Acting on plans for a rapid expansion over the next two years, Palace Resorts bought four beachfront hotels in Mexico from Grupo Sidek Situr, and has plans to build a new luxury all-inclusive property in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.

The new hotels are the Hotel Sierra Cancun, Hotel Continental Plaza Playacar, Hotel Plaza Las Glorias Cozumel and Hotel Sierra Nuevo Vallarta. The additions will bring the company’s total portfolio in Mexico to 10. The Punta Cana property is not expected to open until late 2005. Palace Resorts also operates Grand Beach Palace in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This year has been a very important year for Palace Resorts, said Roberto Chapur, president of the resort chain.

“After our recent expansion to the Caribbean with Grand Beach Palace in St. Thomas,” he said, “we are continuing to strengthen our all-inclusive resort chain in Mexico, and giving our clients the opportunity to enjoy the quality of a Palace property in new destinations in Mexico.”

The four hotels purchased from Sidek Situr will continue to operate under the same names until the end of the year, when the names will be changed as they are integrated into the Palace brand.

All will be upgraded, but the Hotel Sierra Cancun, a 260-room property in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone, will see the most work. All rooms and common areas will be totally redone to bring the hotel up to five-star level, said Maira Briceno, sales and marketing manager.

The hotel will likely be closed from August through December this year while under construction.

Two other new hotels may also be closed during that period, though renovations there will not be quite as extensive: the 185-room Hotel Continental Plaza Playacar, and the 174-room Hotel Plaza Las Glorias Cozumel. Both are currently European plan hotels that will be converted to all-inclusive by next year.

The 362-room Hotel Sierra Nuevo Vallarta is expected to remain open. Briceno said details are still being worked out, but upgrades there are likely to include a general freshening up of decor, the addition of new amenities, expansion of the restaurant and a new spa.

Palace has purchased land for a new resort in Punta Cana, which will be similar in layout to the adults-only Adventura Spa Palace property on the Riviera Maya.

Weddings will also continue to be a focus. This year, Palace Resorts is also offering free wedding packages at the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, Xpu-Ha Palace and at the Adventura Spa Palace (as well as Grand Beach Palace in St. Thomas). The package includes a justice of the peace, champagne for guests at the ceremony, dinner reservations for the wedding party, a candlelight dinner for the bride and groom, a fruit basket and sparkling wine in the room.

Additional services are available for a nominal fee. Superior and deluxe wedding packages are also available, starting at $1,349, in addition to the room rate.