Wyndham Reports Strong Quarter Bookings, Slates Expansion

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Reed Travel Features

DALLAS -- Wyndham Resorts is making its presence known in the Caribbean with expansions and renovations.

Mike Fegley, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts' vice president of resort sales, said that bookings for the first quarter are "ahead of last year's pace from the U.S., Canada and Europe."

Summer 1997 bookings also are strong from Europe, but "it is too early too tell from the other markets," he said.

Wyndham has resorts on Aruba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico.

The new Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel & Casino in Puerto Rico is scheduled to open in May near the cruise ship docks.

Also, Wyndham recently took over the management of Palmas del Mar Resort in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

The Wyndham sign went up at the resort on Dec. 16, and a $4.5 million renovation of the 100-room Candelero Hotel & Villas, part of the Palmas complex, will begin in late April.

The Palmas del Mar Resort and Villas has the largest tennis center in the Caribbean with 20 tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center, a marina, fitness facilities, restaurants, retail shops and all water sports.

As part of the Palmas del Mar Resort arrangement, in addition to the Candelero Hotel, Wyndham manages 130 of the resort's villas; the 23-unit junior suite Palmas Inn, and the 104-unit Club Cala time-share operation.

The Wyndham Caribbean roster could be expanded further, although Fegley declined to be specific except to say that Wyndham "is always looking at other possible sites."

"Cancun and the Cayman Islands, for example, both have strong tourism departments and healthy hotel markets," he said.

Taking a look at the winter season, Fegley reported "lively" bookings for the Wyndham properties on Aruba and St. Lucia.

"Jamaica has been flat for the last six months," Fegley added.

"It's a question of more room supply on the island than demand. Jamaica got 800 more rooms in 1996 and will add another 900 guest rooms this year."

The historical 489-room Wyndham Rose Hall Golf & Beach Resort in Montego Bay is in the midst of a $5.3 million restoration that will be completed at the end of July.

The property remains open during the renovation with minimal inconveniences for guests, according to Fegley.

"Each project has been strategically scheduled and is not expected to disrupt any services."

The renovation includes all guest rooms "from front door to the bathroom and balcony," as well as corridors, elevators, the tennis courts, the swimming pool deck and golf cart paths on the property's par-72 course.

In addition, the work includes a new entryway, a refurbished lobby with new furniture, conference facilities and the additions of an exterior Jacuzzi and a free-standing Kids Klub pavilion for the 5- to 12-year-old set.

Also being added are a 60-slot-machine game room and sauna and steam rooms in the fitness center.

The resort's cafe and Crusoe's Restaurant will be refurbished and will reopen with a new menu.

Wyndham's other Jamaican property is the 303-room Wyndham Kingston Hotel in the city's financial center.

On St. Thomas, the 300-room Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club reopened in mid-December as an inclusive resort with a variety of golf, dive and romance packages.

Prior to its opening, a multimillion-dollar renovation removed all traces of damage from the hurricanes of 1995 and upgraded the existing facilities.

Still to be built is a 40-seat reservations-only restaurant.

Fegley said that "groups are coming in well for '97 and '98."

"Advance bookings for the leisure market are somewhat soft, but we will offer lots of incentives and specials to bolster that segment."

A new weekly charter program with Carnival Air Lines from New York (Newark) to St. Thomas from Feb. 1 through April 15 should help the booking picture, according to Fegley.

The resort's rates cover all meals, snacks, drinks, sports and use of the fitness center.

On Puerto Rico, the 242-room, $35 million waterfront Old San Juan resort is the centerpiece of a $105 million major urban development project called Paseo Portuario.

"The property is a stone's throw from the cruise ship docks and half a block from the Hard Rock Cafe," Fegley said.

"We're definitely aiming at the cruise ship market as the place to stay, either pre- or post-cruise."

Fegley also expects the resort to handle high-end incentive business and corporate bookings as well as local traffic on the weekends.

Facilities will include a restaurant, two lounges, meeting space, a rooftop pool, a health club and a 10,000-square-foot casino.

The hotel will connect by sky bridge to Isla Bonita, a historical building that has been renovated for retail use.

Bookings for the 443-room Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort & Casino, which completed a renovation program, "are looking very good," Fegley said.

The refurbishment included the opening of a Polynesian restaurant in time for Christmas and the refitting of the Antillas Grill Room and the fitness center.

On St. Lucia, the 238-room inclusive Wyndham Morgan Bay Resort is "really hopping," according to Fegley, who said the 4-year-old property had its best year ever in 1996.

"Although bookings from the U.S. and Canada were down, this was offset by a jump in European business," he said.

"Air Jamaica's new service from the U.S. in February should really help our winter business."

The resort hosts more than 200 weddings a year, which account for a sizable chunk of its overall business.

For additional information and reservations, call (800) WYNDHAM.

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