The tourist industry in the Caribbean Basin was enjoying record revenues prior to the devastating impact of the American Great Recession in 2008-09. American tourists suddenly stopped traveling, causing critical cutbacks to hospitality providers in many of these countries which relied upon American tourists for a majority of their revenues. Existing resort hotels cut prices to the bone and many new resort developments were abandoned or foreclosed by financial lenders. Now, after five years of gloom and doom, signs of returning economic progress have motivated hoteliers to plan for a resurgence of the tourist industry.
During 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, leading American hoteliers have announced plans for new development in Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. Starwood Hotels and Resorts leads the parade with plans for 100 hotels under operation and development in Latin America by the end of 2013. It opened the Westin Panama in January 2013 and it plans to open seven additional hotels with a total of 1,300 rooms in five countries. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Americas Co-President Osvaldo Librizzi stated: “We believe that demand for travel will continue to increase in Latin America.”
Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company, with nearly 7,260 hotels, named a new vice president of development for Latin America, after Canadian operations were stopped due to Ontario lagging behind. He will focus on expanding the chain in key countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Panama. Carlson Rezidor is expanding its presence with the opening of the Park Inn by Radisson San Jose in Costa Rica, followed this year by new hotels in Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Chile, making a total of 50 hotels in this region. Hilton Worldwide announced that it currently has the largest Latin American pipeline in its history with 51 current resorts and hotels in Latin America and growth plans in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. Hyatt announced plans this month to own and operate two new hotels in the Costa del Este community of Panama City, opening in 2015. Globally, Hyatt operates 500 properties in 40 countries, including the Country Club of the Caribbean on the island of Aruba, originally positioned by Parker Associates in 1994.
Parker Associates has been active in positioning resort properties in many Caribbean Basin countries, including Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas, in addition to exploratory research in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and several Caribbean islands. The firm has been waiting impatiently for this show of confidence by major hoteliers, heralding the resumption of tourism and resort growth in the beautiful year-round climates enjoyed by these countries — new resort and retirement development appears Set To Rise Again in 2013.