MANZANILLO, Mexico -- Hotelier Robert Woolley likes to be first.
When he was in the mechanical contracting business in the late
'60s building furnished apartments, the Dallas entrepreneur decided
to "take the bull by the horns" and create a concept that he
believed would appeal to business travelers: the all-suite
His first all-suite venture, the Granada Royale, opened in 1969.
It offered families and business travelers "room to breathe," in
addition to free breakfast, a complimentary cocktail hour and
By the time Woolley sold his Granada Royale chain in 1984, it
consisted of 26 hotels and 70 franchises. The Granada Royale chain
turned into Embassy Suites.
In 1987, well before the North American Free Trade Agreement
between the U.S. and Mexico in 1994, Woolley began negotiating with
a Monterrey, Mexico-based development group for land in Manzanillo
to build a sprawling, all-suite beach resort.
In 1998, after years of delays and setbacks, including the pullout
of his financial partner, Westinghouse Electric Corp., Woolley
finally opened the 324-suite Karmina Palace, becoming one of the
first American developers to construct such a hotel in Mexico.
Modeled after a Mayan palace with waterfalls and interconnecting
swimming pools tucked into a spectacular cove on the Las Hadas
Peninsula, the $70 million Karmina Palace is situated next to Las
Hadas, the Mediterranean-style resort where the movie "10" was
Guests of the Karmina Palace have access to golf and tennis
through the Club Las Hadas.
There are also three restaurants, eight swimming pools, a
3,200-square-foot fitness facility and spa and 44,420 square feet
of meetings facilities.
For families, the resort offers a Kid's Club with supervised
activities for youngsters ages 4 to 12.
The Karmina Palace's suites range in category from junior and
one-bedroom to master and presidential.
All units feature mahogany wood furnishings, marble floors,
oversize baths and sofa sleepers.
Rates at the Karmina Palace range from $260 to $400 per room,
The Karmina Palace will soon have a companion.
Woolley said he plans to build another resort in Manzanillo,
this one near a 500-slip marina that's planned for Santiago Bay,
about four miles from the Karmina.
The as-yet-unnamed property would feature about 300 rooms and
cost in the neighborhood of $30 million to build.
Construction is not expected to start for another 18 months.
"It [the new resort] will be positioned at a lower price point
compared with the Karmina and will be directed to families and to
time-share owners," said Woolley.
For information or reservations, call (877) 527-6462.
Information also can be obtained by logging on to the Karmina
Palace Web site at www.karminapalace.com.