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If you want to take the pulse of the hotel industry in South America, the best place to start is the South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (SAHIC). At this year’s event, more than 200 hoteliers, investors and developers gathered at Hilton Colon Guayaquil in Ecuador for spirited conversations and presentations about growth potential in the region.
According to data presented by Patricia Boo, senior business development manager for Latin America at STR Global, South America is enjoying double-digit growth in its hotel pipeline, in spite of declined occupancy rates and increased economic and political instability in some destinations.
Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide, struck an especially positive tone as keynote speaker.
“As Hilton drives remarkable global growth with the largest rooms pipeline in the industry, Latin America plays an incredibly important role in our expansion efforts,” Nassetta said. “We continue to achieve sustained year-over-year growth in the region and look forward to welcoming our 100th hotel in Latin America later this year.”
Philippe Trapp, executive vice president for Latin America at AccorHotels, also outlined expansion plans.
“The goal is to have 500 hotels by 2020 in the region,” Trapp said, noting that his company has more than 150 upcoming properties. “Today we are reaching a critical mass.”
Paulo Pena, president and managing director for Latin America & Caribbean at Wyndham Hotel Group, reported “record growth” in 2015, with more than 5,000 rooms opening in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Our market priorities are Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Chile,” Pena said, adding that this year the company opened an office in Sao Paulo and a call center in Mexico City to better serve the region.
Salo Smaletz, vice president of development for Latin America at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), said that — in addition to increasing interest in destinations such as Argentina and Colombia for hotel investment — smaller countries, including Paraguay and Bolivia, are also showing promise, especially for business travel.
“Everything is about economic stability and social stability,” Smaletz said. “Those countries have shown that they’re moving toward a more tranquil moment.”
Among the categories of hotel ripe for growth is the so-called “lifestyle” concept, according to Laurent de Kousemaeker, chief development officer for the Caribbean and Latin America region at Marriott International.
“We’re seeing trends toward lifestyle hotels,” Kousemaeker said. “I’m surprised by the increased interest in AC Hotels [by Marriott]. We see that the lifestyle aspect of that brand seems to appeal to the tastes of this region. We see a lot of opportunity.”
Arturo Garcia Rosa, president and founder of SAHIC, agreed about the rising popularity of lifestyle hotels.
“Whether it’s luxury or midscale, more and more people want to stay at lifestyle hotels,” he said. “And investors are noticing.”
One such property, the recently opened Hyatt Centric Montevideo, received the 2016 SAHIC Award for best new hotel in South America.
“People love to go there,” Garcia said. “Uruguayan people go there for lunch and dinner, and international visitors like to go there because they can interact with locals.”
New Hotels to Debut in South AmericaMarriott International plans to open the 210-room AC Hotel by Marriott Cartagena and the 201-room Cartagena Marriott Hotel by 2018. And even more properties are in the works for Marriott’s recently added Starwood portfolio. Scheduled to open by the end of his year are the Sheraton Cartagena in Colombia, and Four Points by Sheraton Cuenca in Ecuador. Slated to open in 2017 are Sheraton Santos Hotel in Brazil; Four Points by Sheraton Cusco in Peru; and Aloft Montevideo in Uruguay. Openings for 2018 include Sheraton Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, and Aloft Miraflores Reducto in Lima.
IHG plans to open multiple properties in Brazil in 2017, including Holiday Inn Goiania, Holiday Inn Rio de Janeiro Porto Maravilha, Holiday Inn Express Rio de Janeiro Porto Maravilha and Holiday Inn Express Belem Nazare. Also scheduled to debut in 2017 are InterContinental Punta Piqueros in Chile and the Crowne Plaza Barranquilla in Colombia.
Hilton Worldwide has seven hotels in development in Peru, including the DoubleTree by Hilton Iquitos and Hampton by Hilton Tarapoto, both to open in 2017, and Hampton by Hilton Trujillo, slated to debut in 2018. Also in the works is Hilton Santiago Las Condes, which is to open in 2021 in Chile.
Hyatt Hotels, which this year debuted the 436-room Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro and 178-room Hyatt Centric Montevideo, is to open the 261-room Hyatt Regency Cartagena in February 2017 and the 297-room Grand Hyatt Bogota by 2018.
AccorHotels debuted the 55-room Mama Shelter Rio de Janeiro in September. The company also plans to introduce its hostel-inspired brand, Jo&Joe, in 2018 in Sao Paulo.
Viceroy Hotels and Resorts is to open a property in Buenos Aires in 2019. The 125-room Viceroy Buenos Aires will be located inside a mixed-use development called Madero Harbour in the upscale Puerto Madero neighborhood.
Oro Verde Hotels, an Ecuadorian company with properties in Cuenca, Guayaquil, Machala and Manta, is putting the final touches on what will likely be the most luxurious hotel in Guayaquil: Hotel del Parque. Set in a massively renovated former elderly care home that the Catholic church opened in 1891, the historic, 42-room property will be located in Parque Historico. Parque Historico is a city park that's home to a variety of architectural and cultural attractions.