Visitor Increases Mean Improved Hotel Picture in Guatemala

By Carla Hunt

Reed Travel Features

GUATEMALA CITY -- With the rapid increase in commercial visitors to Guatemala and high expectations for the future in both the business and leisure segments, this city has become a boomtown of hotel building and refurbishment of superior class accommodations. New properties also have been added in smaller centers with popular visitor attractions, and others are just opening in such undiscovered but appealing regions as the highlands of Los Cuchumatanes, where Biltmore International Hotels introduced its 50-room Hotel Los Cuchumatanes. "The private sector has made an enormous investment in Guatemala's hotel infrastructure," said Roberto Robles, director of the Guatemala Tourist Commission, "and visitors are now assured of a high level of comfort in the capital and in key corners of the country."

Following are some of the recent developments:

* The newest of the deluxe class in Guatemala City is the 205-room Hyatt Regency Guatemala, which opened last November and is this year's host hotel for the 21st annual TravelMart LatinAmerica at the end of this month. Part of the Tikal Futura Complex, the property's accommodations include a Regency Club, exclusive to the upper three floors of the hotel, where guests have complimentary breakfasts and cocktails. There are three restaurants; a fully equipped Business Center with conference rooms; the Club Olympus fitness center with pool, and the Entertainment Center, including six cinemas and a bowling alley. Conference and banquet facilities feature meeting rooms, a Grand Ballroom (at 23,000 square feet, the largest banquet, conference and meeting room in Central America) and the Exhibition Hall, with 38,736 square feet of space.

* Following a total refurnishing of all guest rooms and the Premier floor's accommodations, the 400-room Westin Camino Real Guatemala City is completing its new look with a $2 million remodeling of the public areas. These are accented with marble floors, Guatemalan mahogany paneling and European tapestries in the lobby area. Restaurants and meeting rooms also have all new appointments and decor, and other hotel amenities include a health and fitness center, two pools and two tennis courts. Just a year ago, the 35,000-square-foot Camino Real International Convention Center opened adjacent to the hotel. The center has a capacity for up to 3,000 and offers meeting rooms, an exhibition hall and the Cafe de las Estrellas.

* A sister Westin hotel is the Camino Real Tikal, with 72 lakeview rooms, two restaurants, a fitness center and a pool. Marriott has redesigned, refurbished and taken over the management of the former Dorado Hotel and will open the new property in what is called the Zona Viva district of the city as the Guatemala City Marriott on Nov. l. The property has 387 rooms, including a new executive tower that will house 37 suites as part of concierge floors. Executive rooms are equipped for the modern traveler, and all rooms have two phone lines with a computer connection, an iron and ironing board and a hair dryer. There will be a full business center two fitness facilities (one for men, one for women); an outdoor heated pool and a children's pool, and tennis and squash courts. In addition to several bars and lounges, the property will have three restaurants, including Champions Sports Bar. Meeting space in the new hotel features a freestanding convention center accommodating up to 4,000.

* Also scheduled to open this fall is the five-star Quinta Real, a property belonging to Quinta Real Grand Class Hotels and Resorts in Mexico. Located in residential Guatemala City, the Quinta Real has 58 Master suites, 68 Grand Class suites, two Governor's suites and a Presidential suite. Facilities will include a business center, shopping arcade and a swimming pool; a gourmet restaurant and a bar, and meeting space for up to 500.

* Following a major refurbishment, the former Fiesta Hotel reopened last April as the Holiday Inn Guatemala, located next to the Camino Real Convention Center in Zone 10. All 200 rooms and suites have a choice of mountain or city view and are newly decorated. Facilities include three restaurants, a piano bar, a gym and a pool, a business center and conference space for up to 300.

* Radisson Villas del Pacifico Resort & Conference Center opened its third Guatemala property, in Escuintla, 90 miles from the capital. Guests have a choice of suites with private terraces or bungalows with kitchenettes and private whirlpool. There are two snack bars and a restaurant. Recreation facilities include two pools, a gym and water sports equipment. Meeting space accommodates up to 160 people. Radisson also manages the Villa Antigua Resort & Conference center in colonial Antigua, which has 184 guest rooms, 36 of them suites. There is a restaurant, a snack bar, a cafe bar and a fitness center, and facilities are available for conferences of up to 700. Another property is the Radisson Suites Villa Magna, whose 100 suites include kitchenettes, in Zona Viva. Breakfasts are complimentary, and the hotel has a restaurant, a gym and meeting rooms.

* Inter-Continental Plaza Guatemala was scheduled to open a 280-room hotel in mid-1998, part of a mixed-use complex including a convention center, office space and a shopping center. Although the commercial area is going ahead, at press time the hotel construction was on hold and the property remained a coming attraction.

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