Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Karisma Hotels & Resorts is expanding its footprint in the Caribbean.

The hotel company, which has several resort brands under its umbrella, has already made quite the name for itself in the Mexican Caribbean as well as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. When it comes to expanding, it is showing no signs of slowing down.

"We own a massive stretch of beach property, called Sugarcane Bay, in Jamaica," Kelly Poling, senior vice president of marketing for Karisma, told me. I was on location at the Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant awards, Karisma's annual awards ceremony and marketing forum for its top-producing agents, held every year at El Dorado Royale just outside of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

"We own a number of different plots," Poling said. The plan is to build "a complex of hotels, which will be a combination of Karisma-built hotels and others that will be built [separately] and that Karisma will manage."

Poling elaborated that this is the opportunity to build out the brands that Karisma is most focused on at the moment, Nickelodeon and Margaritaville, an All-Inclusive Experience by Karisma.

There is a Nickelodeon hotel in Punta Cana and one in construction in Riviera Maya, which will be located next to the Generations Riviera Maya property when it opens in 2020. 

One of the first hotels to open in Sugarcane Bay, Jamaica, will be a Margaritaville. Poling said  that the Margaritaville brand could be applied to almost any island on the Caribbean. "Jamaica is obvious," she said. "As it stands now, the first will open in Riviera Maya, but shortly thereafter it will open in Jamaica. We've looked at the entirety of the Caribbean that has hotel inventory, and we think that Margaritaville can be supported anywhere."

With that said, the plan is not to bring massive hotels to smaller islands. The primary reason that Karisma envisions Margaritaville on smaller islands is that the Margaritaville hotels are flexible, from small hotels of 100 to 200 rooms on up. "When we build in Jamaica and the Riviera Maya, the resorts will be large," Poling said. "But smaller islands with smaller room inventory are  possible for a boutique offering."

As for Nickelodeon, the next one to open will be in Riviera Maya in 2020. This resort, with 276 oceanfront swim-up suites, as well as four signature Penthouses, will be the flagship property. It is being built from the ground up.

Karisma is looking at expansion opportunities for Nickelodeon all over Latin America, where Poling said brand awareness is strong.

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