According to the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, (AHATA), the hotels in Aruba saw a 2.3 percentage point drop in average hotel room occupancy in December 2018 compared to December 2017, falling from 84.3% in 2017 to 82.0% in December of 2018. The hotels Average Daily Room rate (ADR) improved by 10.4% however, from $317.57 in December 2017 to $350.67 in December 2018. Revpar grew by 7.4%, from $267.86 in 2017 to $287.64 in December 2018.
In calendar year 2018 the hotels in Aruba achieved an average room occupancy of 84.6%, down from 85.4% for calendar year 2017. The hotels’ ADR grew by 11.3% in 2018, from $241.14 in 2017 to $268.48 in 2018, while revpar grew by 10.3%, from $205.88 in 2017 to $227.16 in 2018.
Aruba has 5,300 hotel rooms.
TORONTO — Vertical integration is still the name of the game so it’s no wonder tour operators pressed on with plans for new resorts, and new resort alliances, in 2018.
Sunwing Travel Group, already a major player on the resort scene with its Blue Diamond Resorts hotel division with 15,000+ rooms across more than a half dozen brands, fortified its position even further with a blockbuster deal with Planet Hollywood. Announcing the venture in February 2018, Sunwing Travel Group and Planet Hollywood said initial plans called for two resorts in Mexico and Costa Rica, with more to come. Right on time, Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica opened in the fall of 2018. In Mexico, Planet Hollywood Resort Cancun is slated to open in spring 2019. Sunwing is also transforming the site of the former Sonesta Great Bay in St. Maarten into a Planet Hollywood resort. And in October Sunwing announced plans to expand its hotel division again with the addition of six of Rex Resorts’ Caribbean hotels, part of a newly formed strategic alliance that will see Sunwing grow its presence in destinations including Grenada, Tobago and Barbados.
Transat’s resort plans meanwhile are taking shape like never before, as the company makes good on its decision, first divulged in 2017, to develop its own hotel chain in the Caribbean. In September 2018 Transat announced it had purchased a stretch of land in Riviera Maya, in Puerto Morelos on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is ideally situated midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen some 20 kilometres from Cancun International Airport.
The company has also entered into a promissory agreement to purchase a second adjacent property for a total consideration of between US$54 and $57 million to build a new beachfront resort. Transat says its new hotel division will include some 5,000 owned or managed hotel rooms at its main Sun destinations by 2024.
There was more hotel news from Hilton and Playa, with the introduction of Hilton La Romana, an All-inclusive Resort, and Hilton Playa del Carmen, an All-inclusive Resort, adding 1,269 new Hilton guest rooms to its existing global portfolio as part of a strategic alliance. In September 2018 Playa took over management of the resort currently known as Dreams La Romana (rebranded as the Hilton La Romana) while The Royal Playa del Carmen became Hilton Playa del Carmen, an All-inclusive Resort. The agreement between Playa Hotels and Hilton also includes the potential for the conversion and management of eight additional resorts by 2025.
And in other news, Sandals Resorts released new details about its ground-breaking Tobago development, saying it planned to build a Sandals Resort and a Beaches Resort side by side, with close to 300 rooms and 450-500 rooms respectively.
This was the comeback year for destinations like Puerto Rico, Dominica, Anguilla and St. Maarten, all of which took a hit from 2017’s hurricanes. Sunwing Travel Group’s newest Planet Hollywood resort is taking shape on the site of the former Sonesta Great Bay, which had closed after Irma hit the island in September 2017. Meanwhile AMResorts is bringing a new Secrets resort to St. Martin, on the site of the former Riu Palace St. Martin. A $20 million renovation will get the place in shape in time for its 2019 reopening.
According to CLIA’s latest stats, some 30 million passengers are expected to cruise in 2019, up from 28.2 million in 2018. Close to 20 new ships will debut in 2019, bringing the number of CLIA-member ship to 272. Revenues are up, yields are up and interest in cruising continues unabated, especially thanks for headline-grabbing newcomers like Symphony of the Seas (March 2018), Norwegian Bliss (May 2018) and Celebrity Edge. Sales for river cruising, despite difficulties with low water levels in Europe in 2018, are still through the roof. And all eyes are on the first of Virgin Voyages’ four new ships, Scarlet Lady, getting ready to set sail, and set new benchmarks for adults-only cruising, in 2020.
According to VisitBarbados.org, Barbados saw the volume of stopover arrivals increase by 3.7% in November 2018, growing from 57,710 arrivals in November 2017 to 59,851 arrivals in November 2018. Stopover arrivals from the USA grew by 6.3%, from 15,224 in November 2017 to 16,179 in November 2018 and increased by 6.8% from the U.K., from 21,228 arrivals in November 2017 to 22,667 in November 2018. Cruise arrivals grew by 15.1%, from 75,592 cruise visitors in November 2017 to 87,042 cruise visitors in November 2018.
Through the first eleven months of 2018 Barbados saw a 2.8% increase in the volume of stopover arrivals, growing from 591,006 arrivals in the first eleven months of 2017 to 607,762 arrivals in the same eleven months of 2018. Arrivals from the USA increased by 8.5% in the first eleven months of 2018, growing from 169,762 arrivals in 2017 to 184,137 arrivals in the same eleven months of 2018 while arrivals from the U.K. grew by 1.5% in the first eleven months of 2018, growing from 195,823 stopovers in 2017 to 198,690 stopovers in 2018. The number of cruise visitors fell by 0.9% in the first eleven months of 2018, falling from 559,313 cruise visitors in 2017 to 554,439 in 2018.
Several new luxury hotels are slated to open this year.
The principal hotel chains that operate in Mexico are planning to open 352 new properties between this year and 2022, according to an analysis by the real estate firm CBRE.
City Express Hotels, which mainly targets business travelers, will lead the way by opening 80 new properties over the next three years.
“We see a challenging economic outlook but we’re maintaining the positive idea of continuing to position ourselves in the center of cities . . .” the company’s director of innovation, José Luis Carrete, told the newspaper El Financiero.
AM Resorts plans to open 66 new hotels in the same period while Grupo Posadas will open 48 with a 30-billion-peso (US $1.5-billion) investment.
Marriott, the NH Group, Hoteles Misión and the Intercontinental Hotels Groups have, in that order, the next most ambitious plans. The four chains will collectively open around 150 new hotels over the next three years.
The CBRE study was based on information publicly disclosed by the hotel chains but some analysts believe that plans could change due to the cancellation of the new Mexico City International Airport and the elimination of the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM).
Nevertheless, the Mexican Hotel and Motel Association (AMHM) is forecasting that the number of luxury hotels in Mexico will increase by 5% in 2019, three points above the figure recorded in the past three years.
At least half of the new luxury hotels that open in Mexico this year will be time-share properties or vacation clubs, according to Juan Ignacio Rodríguez, the executive director in Latin America of timeshare vacation exchange network RCI.
Among the hotels that will open in 2019 are Paradisus Playa Mujeres and Now Natura Riviera Cancún in Quintana Roo, Nobu Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel, both in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, and Conrad Playa Mita in Nayarit.
According to Visit Orlando, Orlando saw the volume of air visitors increase by 20.6% in October 2018, growing from 2,941,639 air visitors in October 2017 to 3,546,737 air visitors in October 2018.
According to STR Orlando had 128,000 hotel rooms in October 2018 and achieved an average city-wide room occupancy of 74.1% (up 7.3 percentage points compared with October 2017), and an ADR of $128.09, (up 5.3% compared with October 2017).
Through the first ten months of 2018 Orlando saw a 6.8% increase in the volume of air visitors, growing from 35,740,089 air arrivals in the first ten months of 2017 to 38,154,133 air visitors in the same ten months of 2018.
Orlando achieved an average city-wide room occupancy of 78.3% in the first ten months of 2018 (down 1.3 percentage points compared with the first ten months of 2017), and an ADR of $127.68, (up 5.3% compared with the same ten months of 2017).
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.
According to Cruise Industry News 2019 will be a record year of new-builds, new cruise brands, expedition ships and capacity growth while dry-docks will grow in scale.
Also impressive will be technology gains, with guests benefiting from the latest connectivity and apps that integrate into the cruise experience while cruise lines continue an arms race to save fuel and reduce their environmental footprint. Among challenge areas are new shipbuilders and emerging markets.
Twenty-four new ships will debut in 2019, making it the biggest year ever for new ship introductions.
The Mein Schiff 2 from TUI Cruises will be the first of the 24 new ships delivered, according to projections from the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
The biggest vessel to enter service this year will be the Costa Smeralda with capacity for 5,224 passengers.
MSC's Grandiosa, a Meraviglia-plus class ship, is also large, and will debut in November with capacity for just under 5,000 guests.
The smallest ship debuting? The 100-guest Magellan Explorer from Antarctica21.
MSC is one of four cruise lines with big ship introduction plans in 2019, with the Grandiosa debuting as well as the Bellissima.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will also take delivery of two expedition newbuilds, the Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration.
French luxury line Ponant will get a pair of 180-guest Explorer-class ships, and Costa will take delivery of two megaships.
The Costa Venezia debuts in March from Fincantieri and moves to China for year-round service, while the Smeralda will debut later in the year and sail in Europe.
Brands are coming into the cruise industry with newbuild projects and secondhand ships.
Jalesh Cruises will start service in April from Mumbai, offering a short-cruise product for the Indian source market.
In China, CTS (China Travel Service) is expected to start service in the third quarter, which will help boost capacity in the region, which is considerably lower, according to the 2019 China Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Heading into the future, both The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Virgin Voyages are bringing their new brands and bold new concepts and their brands into the industry with newbuild projects.
New ships on order and set to be delivered in 2019 represent an additional 42,488 berths into the industry, obliterating 2018’s record introduction of approximately 34,000 new berths.
According to the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, the 42,488 berths represent 7.5 percent additional berths across the industry.
The companies with the biggest plans to fill cabins this year are both European brands. MSC will add 9,388 berths between the Bellissima and Grandiosa, while Costa will add 9,120 berths with the Costa Venezia and Smeralda.
Drydocks Grow in Scale
Refurbishment projects across the industry are only growing in scale, according to the 2019 Drydocking and Refurbishment Report by Cruise Industry News.
The biggest project this year, and the biggest drydock ever to take place, will see the Carnival Triumph converted into the Carnival Sunrise over a two-month work period in Cadiz with a budget of $200 million. The ship will debut in Norfolk, Virginia in late April with additional capacity, and a number of new entertainment and food and beverage features.
Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas will be reimagined with a budget of $115 million and then reintroduced into the hot short cruise market in May 2019.
The newbuild boom in the expedition market that saw the first of a large number of new ships launching in 2018 shows no signs of slowing down for 2019.
Expedition newbuilds are all over the orderbook this year, with 12 expedition ships set to launch into service.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has the single biggest year, with 460 berths coming online with the Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration.
Ponant will mark its second year in a row in which it takes delivery of two ships as well, with the new Le Bougainville being joined by Le Dumont-d'Urville.
The most notable delivery will happen in China, as SunStone will welcome the first of up to 10 expedition newbuilds. The Greg Mortimer will debut in August on a long-term charter contract to Aurora Expeditions.
China was set to become the world’s largest cruise market, and may still get there, but 2019 will be about the so-called readjustment period in the region.
Too much supply brought on too fast, a challenged distribution model (chartering), a short-in booking window and lack of product differentiation put a stop to runaway growth in China.
A readjustment period is now the term, and will give Chinese officials time to work on policies and port development; it will also give way to another new Chinese cruise brand coming late this year.
China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) will buy two cruise ships ahead of building a series new ships.
The company will take delivery of the Costa Atlantica in late 2019, followed by the Costa Mediterranea a year later.
Delayed deliveries, strikes, ownership changes and other major questions revolve around a new set of shipyards that have aggressively entered the cruise business in recent years.
Facing a collapse in the offshore business, shipyards turned to small, expedition and niche cruise lines to gain business back.
Those yards have been met with a host of challenges ranging from ownership changes to yard strikes as they have found out that building a cruise ship is a highly complex task – mainly attributed to the customized hotel aspect of the project.
While Princess Cruises continues to roll out its Ocean Medallion platform, the cruise lines are working hard to upgrade connectivity and provide new apps and digital experiences for passengers.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is utilizing facial recognition to get passengers onboard the ship within 10 minutes of arriving at the terminal; while on the new Celebrity Edge, guests can use an app to turn on and off stateroom lights and even unlock the door.
At MSC Cruises, a personal assistant, Zoe, will debut in every stateroom aboard the Bellissima when the ship is delivered in February.
Passenger-facing apps and connectivity solutions will continue to be hot topics, but behind-the-scenes, a technical arms race will continue to save fuel while lowering environmental impact when it comes to air and water emissions.
Kayak announced that Tahiti was the number one beach vacation based on a 55% increase in the number of searches for the destination compared to the previous 12 months.
The data was collected from searches made between October 25 2017 and October 24 2018 with travel dates from March 1 2018 through February 28 2019.
Bali was the number two beach vacation, up 49%, with the Turks and Caicos Islands up 37%.
Top 10 Trending Destinations
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Las Vegas saw the volume of visitors increase by 5.4% in November 2018, growing from 3,300,500 visitors in November 2017 to 3,478,500 arrivals in November 2018.
Las Vegas had 147,545 hotel rooms in November (up 0.9% compared with November 2017) and achieved an average city-wide room occupancy of 88.1% (up 3.6 percentage points compared with November 2017), an ADR of $118.24, (up 8.9% compared with November 2017) and a RevPar of $112.98, up 13.5% also compared with November 2017.
Through the first eleven months of 2018 Las Vegas saw a 0.4% decrease in the volume of visitors, falling from 39,019,400 arrivals in the first eleven months of 2017 to 38,849,200 visitors in the same eleven months of 2018.
Las Vegas achieved an average city-wide room occupancy of 89.0% in the first eleven months of 2018 (down 0.7 percentage points compared with the first eleven months of 2017), an ADR of $129.61, (up 0.6% compared with ytd 2017) and a RevPar of $115.16, down 0.2%, also compared with the same eleven months of 2017.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.