Jim Dobson - Forbes Magazine.
Following the devastating effects from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 that heavily damaged 30% of the islands in the Caribbean, there is a remarkable comeback underway. Many previously affected properties have now opened and a large slate of new developments and resorts are planned to launch in 2019 and 2020. I spoke with several travel experts in the Caribbean and they are enthused about the increase in remodeled, refurbished and brand new resorts opening in the coming years.
“It’s an exciting time in the Caribbean, which is seeing tremendous growth in its new hotel pipeline. That’s particularly on islands like Dominica, which is experiencing a full-fledged renaissance,” said Alexander Britell, publisher and editor of my favorite island website Caribbean Journal. "The region is welcoming a remarkably diverse collection of hotels and resorts this year, from luxury small-island boutiques to gleaming new all-inclusives."
Patricia Affonso Das, President of Caribbean Hotel and Tourism, tells me, "We got a peek into the future as over 5,000 new hotels rooms came online regionally in 2018 with over 25,000 more in the construction and planning stages. Existing hotels continue to invest in refurbishments and introducing new services and amenities. We witnessed an unprecedented surge in new airlift into the region, presenting more opportunities to entice travelers to our shores. Investor and government confidence in Caribbean tourism’s future was further buoyed as hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on upgraded and expanded airport facilities.
I spoke with former CHTA President and famed St. Lucia hotelier Karolin Troubetzkoy and she says, "A lot of new development took place in the Dominican Republic. Personally, I am excited about Silversands Grenada which only just opened. I definitely want to go to Dominica with Secret Bay reopened, as well as the Kempinski Cabrits and Jungle Bay. All in all, I am excited as we see a great mixture of new properties opening, from small boutiques, luxury chains, to more commercial but exciting all-inclusive brands."
Frank Comito, Director General, and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association tells me "Much of the growth is occurring at the luxury end. We are seeing a number of destinations stepping up with new and upgraded properties in 2018 with more planned for 2019. Destinations like Antigua, Cayman Islands, Grenada, St. Kitts, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos and have opened new luxury properties.
The Dominican Republic and the Mexican Caribbean are now seeing the results of a deliberate thrust several years ago to attract luxury resort investments, taking all-inclusive resorts to a new level, with AMResorts leading the way. Sandals Resorts has upgraded several of its properties in the region and Jamaica is seeing new high-end investments. The Cays along Belize are also witnessing significant investments."
Here are the Top 10 new properties we are most excited about as well as many more on the pipeline to open in 2019 and beyond.
Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski / Dominica
One of the most talked about launches set to open late 2019, the new Kempinski will be located outside Portsmouth on the northern tip of the island and will have 160 rooms, and a spa. The luxurious tropical destination is surrounded by the Cabrits National Park in Dominica, home to 365 rivers, waterfalls and hot springs. Its four room categories include Junior Suites, Bays Suites, Executive Suites and a Presidential Villa, which will have two bedrooms, indoor/outdoor living spaces, kitchen, private pool, and a private spa treatment room.
Secrets / St Martin
Set at the former Riu Palace in Anse Marcel that was damaged in the hurricane, the new AMResorts project will be a huge addition to the island with an adults-only, 350-room resort located on one of the best beaches in St Martin and will include swim out suites and what is claimed to be the largest swimming pool in the Caribbean.
O: LV Fifty Five / Puerto Rico
This new addition to San Juan’s hopping Condado district opened at the end of December, the 26 suite luxurious hotel is inspired by local designers and artists. Most suites have views of the Condado Lagoon and the property includes two restaurants and a two-level rooftop infinity pool with solarium and jacuzzi.
Hodges Bay / Antigua
This new hotel recently opened its doors and is located on Antigua’s stunning northern coast, with a mix of 79 rooms that range from three bedroom villas to oceanfront suites. The resort has four restaurants, a swim-up bar, infinity pool, and a rooftop bar.
Silversands / Grenada
Recently opened, Grenada’s Silversands Boutique Hotel has 39 suites, three one-bedroom suites, and a 2,000 sq.ft penthouse. There are also nine villas as well as 4,400 sf beachfront villas on Grand Anse Beach. There are also four hillside villas with views over the entire resort and sea. A 339-foot infinity pool, spa, and beach club round out an amazing new destination.
S Hotel Jamaica / Jamaica
Scheduled to open January 2019, this 120 room hotel with spa overlooking Doctor's Cave Beach will become a buzzy new entry on Montego Bay. The beachfront property will quickly become one of the hottest spots in the area and will feature cool Sky Club suites and Signature Spa suites with oversized soaking tubs. The dramatic Sky Bar Lounge with lounge beds and a glass-enclosed infinity pool will be one of the exclusive highlights for guests.
The Liming / Bequia
This intimate luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of the Grenadines on the tiny 6,000 resident island. With only 9 villas and a Junior suite with private pools or hot tubs, the property also features the separate Gingerlily Mansion House with five bedrooms for extended families. The seafront terraced restaurant overlooks the properties purpose-built yacht marina. There are also residences for sale including 39 one and two bedroom Beach Cottages, 6 Beach Villas and a few four or five-bedroom Ridge and Ridge Top Villas.
Jungle Bay, Dominica
The legendary Jungle Bay was rebuilt and is rebranded as the Jungle Bay Eco Villas on Morne Acouma overlooking a marine reserve, and is now a 60 villa wellness boutique resort with residences. With a planned opening for Summer 2019, the property also offers adventure fitness bootcamps and yoga retreats all within a rustic, luxurious environment.
Club Med Miches, Dominican Republic
The new “5-Trident” Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda, set on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic is the largest Caribbean project for Club Med in 40 years, with a planned debut in December 2019. The all-inclusive eco-chic resort offers up four boutique villages with themes of romance, adventure, and wellness all offering their own specialized environments and activities.
Anichi Resort and Spa / Dominica
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection this new hotel in Portsmouth is located on Picard Beach and will have 128 rooms, including suites with private plunge pools, along with a spa, all set on a 12-acre site. It’s slated to launch in December 2019.
Mandarin Oriental / Grand Cayman
This luxury resort and residences is scheduled to open in 2021. The 100-room beachfront resort with 89 branded Residences at Mandarin Oriental will occupy 67 acres at St. James Point, With is own secluded beach all rooms and suites will overlook the sea.
Andaz / Turks & Caicos
This new hotel and residence development will open in 2021 and will be the Andaz brand’s first property in the Caribbean. The new hotel will be positioned on five acres at the western end of Grace Bay Beach.
SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado / Cuba
Accor Hotels will open this new property in 2020. The 10 floor Havana hotel will be located at the intersection of Paseo de Marti and Malecón in the heart of the city. Offering 250 guestrooms, including 36 suites, a spa and rooftop bar will host international DJs and artists.
Rock House / Turks & Caicos
The resort opening in 2020, is developed by Grace Bay Resorts and located on the north coast of Providenciales featuring 41 cottages and four hillside homes with a dramatic 100-foot-long pool perched on a 25-foot limestone cliff.
Muthu Imperial Cayo Guillermo / Cuba
This 500-room all-inclusive adults-only hotel opening in 2019 is located on Cayo Guillermo beach and will feature five restaurants, three bars, a spa and a small shopping center with shops.
Planet Hollywood / St. Maarten
Taking over the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort in Sint Maarten, the property will reopen in 2021 under the Planet Hollywood banner. Located in Great Bay, the resort will include 450 rooms, five restaurants, a casino, a beach club, and a spa.
Itz’ana Resort & Residences / Belize
This highly-anticipated eco-resort offers residences and hotel located in the beach town of Placencia and will open in 2019. The property is ideally located in Placencia with a 15-slip marina, solar-powered cottages, and a stunning beachfront.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.