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Even though Iberostar Hotels & Resorts has wanted to open a property in Cancun for many years, the Spanish hospitality brand hasn’t — until now.
“Today, you have to be careful to invest because the financial world is crazy with high-interest rates,” said Miguel Fluxa, president of Iberostar Group. “We are ready if the opportunity is worthwhile. It’s much more interesting to buy a hotel that is already built. Building a hotel costs a lot of money and, today, due to the circumstances, there are opportunities to refurbish a hotel that already exists.”
Last year, Iberostar added nine hotels to its portfolio of more than 100 hotels in 15 countries. The company recently announced global revenues of nearly $950 million, representing a 7.8 percent increase from 2010. If the newly opened Iberostar Cancun is any indication, Iberostar plans to grow its revenues and portfolio cautiously, with investments that will allow the brand to deliver quality consistent with its other properties.
Iberostar purchased the former Hilton Cancun Hotel and renovated the beachfront property for a combined acquisition and renovation price of $100 million. According to Fluxa, refurbishments accounted for approximately 15 percent of the total cost.
Indeed, when I visited Iberostar Cancun during its grand opening in February, the quality of the resort was on par with my expectations for Iberostar Premium Gold properties. Iberostar Cancun falls into the brand’s middle-tier category of accommodations, which are more upscale than Iberostar Premium properties, with bigger rooms and extra amenities, including concierge service and 24-hour room service. One of Iberostar Cancun’s unique property features — another element of the Premium Gold product — is its golf course, which is Cancun’s only in-property course.
Iberostar considers itself a family brand and a family-friendly hotel and, as such, foregoes the all-inclusive draws — such as in-room hard alcohol dispensers and beachside DJs — for a kids’ club and teen’s club. A newly built water playground for toddlers and tweens is in the pool area, so older family members swimming or laying out are never too far away. The pool area is one of Cancun’s most spacious with seven pools, including one infinity pool, a swim-up bar and an ample supply of lounge chairs. Beyond the pools, guests can enjoy the property’s private beach and seating area.
Also offering views of the Caribbean Sea, the property’s 426 rooms and villas have been updated, with a concentration on the bathrooms. My favorite aspect of my junior suite, however, was the balcony, where I could stretch out to the sea every morning. For more pampering, the spa has been refurbished and features a new whirlpool.
Even though the property is adjacent to Cancun’s nightlife, the hotel wanted to provide entertainment options for guests. The brand-new outdoor theater, covered by one of Cancun’s largest palapas, shows a Broadway-style show each night. The Las Palmas lobby bar received a facelift and was my favorite place to meet up for a coffee in the morning and a cocktail at night. During the day, sun pours in through the sun roof and full length windows. The bright space is also wide and open, with bronze palm trees dotting the marble floors. Guests can also enjoy Vertigo, a sport’s bar, and Robusto, a cigar and hookah lounge.
Food and beverage expansion received the bulk of the renovation funds. Dining options include El Laguito buffet and specialty dinner restaurants: La Horma gourmet, La Parrilla steak house, Naga Hibachi for Japanese cuisine and El Maguey for Mexican favorites.
The property’s massive convention center, boasting the ability to hold oceanfront meetings, offers 49,000 square feet of meeting facilities and 60,000 square feet of outdoor space.
“We can have a convention of 2,000 people and help another hotel, because we can’t host everyone here,” said Fluxa.
By delivering properties with unique features and by maintaining brand-wide quality, Iberostar believes it can benefit the areas surrounding its hotels.
“Cancun has improved,” said Fluxa. “The battle has to be won with quality. I remember when, many years ago while visiting the U.S., I saw that all the big hotel properties had a unified product — and we too have a product whose quality is always at the same level.”