MEXICO CITY -- Grupo Empresarial Angeles, the new owner of Camino
Real Hotels and Resorts, is wasting no time restoring the luster to
Mexico's oldest hotel chain.
Soon after paying $255 million last June to own and operate 13
Camino Real properties, the Mexico City-based Grupo Empresarial
announced it would spend $48 million to rejuvenate the 3,500-room
"Camino Real has a proud heritage of showing guests from around
the world the very best of Mexico," said Olegario Vazquez Aldir,
president of Grupo Empresarial Angeles, whose holdings include
eight hospitals and a chain of furniture stores in the country.
"We plan to maintain the highest standards to meet the demands
of the growing number of guests coming to Mexico for business and
pleasure," he said.
Camino Real officials admit the company's hotels had grown stale in
an increasingly competitive environment.
Unable to spend the necessary cash to freshen the product,
Camino Real was losing business to such brands as Four Seasons, JW
Marriott, Westin and Sheraton in its own backyard.
"The properties needed a refurbishing," said Adrian Schjetnan,
vice president of sales and marketing for Camino Real. "They were
crying for it," he said.
According to Schjetnan, Camino Real asked agents and other
industry professionals in the U.S. and Mexico for their opinion of
Said Schjetnan: "They all told us, 'Your properties are run
down. They're in beautiful locations, but they're outdated.' "
Faced with this revelation, the new owner "realized that there
would have to be a compromise," said Schjetnan.
The owner "knew we needed to spend the money to reposition the
brand rather than growing the brand or spending all the money on
advertising or marketing."
Of the $48 million earmarked for improvements, $19 million is
being spent on the company's flagship hotels in Mexico City and
The 709-room Camino Real Mexico City, which opened in 1968 and
served as host hotel during the Mexico City Summer Olympics that
year, was scheduled to complete the first phase of a $14 million
refit on Oct. 30.
The bulk of the money will be spent on rooms, which will be
upgraded with Internet hookups, work desks with ergonomic chairs
and task lighting and dual-line phones.
The hotel also is upping the ante in the capital city's
restaurant war by opening two new eateries -- a Spanish restaurant
and a brand name steak house -- to take on the likes of the
Presidente Inter-Continental Hotel, which is widely believed to
have three of the city's best places to dine.
"We're going to make the Camino Real Mexico City the place to
come in the city for a spectacular meal," said Schjetnan.
At the Camino Real in Guadalajara, the company is spending $5
million to replace the hotel's facade, freshen up the rooms and
build a new business center and health club.
The first phase is scheduled for completion in mid-November.
Renovations to both hotels are scheduled for completion by the
end of May.
Soon after these two hotels are renovated, but no later than
August, renovations will get under way at the company's hotels in
Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, which will each benefit from $8 million
worth of improvements, much of it slated for the units in the older
towers of each hotel.
The hotel in Cancun also will build new break-out rooms for
meetings and a new swimming pool for the exclusive use of guests
staying in the more expensive Camino Real Club rooms.
The hotel in Puerto Vallarta will add two restaurants.
In addition, changes to the 6-year-old Camino Real in Acapulco
will be limited to new meeting rooms and minor property