Iberostar expands presence with new hotels

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PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico -- Approximately half of the properties operated by Spanish hotel firms overseas are in Latin America, with the Dominican Republic and Mexico topping the list, according to the firms.

Companies like Iberostar, Sol Melia, Barcelo and Riu have created a network of more than 300 resorts outside of Spain; Latin America is home to more than 140 of them.

One company that is growing in the region is Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, the hotel division of Spain's Iberostar Group. Last month, the company opened two hotels here -- the Iberostar Paraiso Beach and Iberostar Paraiso del Mar.

The two hotels sit side by side on a milelong beach between the tiny fishing village of Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. They are a 25-minute taxi ride south of the Cancun airport.

With the new resorts, Iberostar operates a total of 1,826 rooms in Mexico. The firm's other Latin America properties are the Iberostar Tucan and Iberostar Quetzal -- both also in Playa del Carmen -- and the Iberostar Cozumel in Mexico, and the Iberostar Bavaro, Iberostar Dominicana, Iberostar Punta Cana and Iberostar Costa Dorada in the Dominican Republic.

Bettina Boskovsky, Iberostar's marketing director for the Caribbean and Mexico, said the company has its sights set on at least three more resorts in Mexico, although she did not provide details.

"In Mexico, 60% of our clients are from the U.S., and much of that is repeat business," according to Boskovsky, who said guests are attracted by the properties' inclusive pricing and beach locations.

At the firm's two new Playa del Carmen resorts, for example, rates start at $150 for one-bedroom, bungalow-style rooms and $170 for junior suites. Iberostar pays 10% commission.

Opened last month, the two inclusive resorts face each other on 35 acres of beachfront property with a large pool area in between. The resorts allow guests to dine at one another's restaurants and use all facilities for no additional charge.

  • The Iberostar Paraiso del Mar features 390 rooms, 324 of which are one-bedroom units located in 11 three-story bungalows that face the gardens and pool. The remaining rooms are junior suites (and one presidential suite) that face the ocean.
  • The larger Iberostar Paraiso Beach offers 424 rooms, 360 rooms of which are one-bedroom units located in 12 three-story bungalows also facing the pool and gardens. The remaining rooms are junior suites with one presidential suite.
  • The resorts' rooms are similarly decorated and equipped. All feature satellite TVs, minibars, dual-line phones and safe-deposit boxes. As in most inclusives, one price pays for all meals, which are of the buffet variety, and activities. Guests can choose from Mexican, Mediterranean, Brazilian and Japanese restaurants.

    For meetings and business travelers, the hotels share a conference center and ballroom with room for 190 guests, and a meeting room for 40.

    The company's complimentary children's program, Lucy's Mini Club, entertains youngsters during the day with a dedicated facility and supervised activities. Baby-sitting is available at night for an additional cost.

    Guests who want to pamper themselves can sign up for massage and spa services or make an appointment at the beauty parlor. A fully equipped gym also is available.

    For additional information or reservations, call (888) 923-2722. Iberostar's Web site is at www.grupoiberostar.com.

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