AMResorts brands

• Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts: A collection of small luxury resorts offering romantic and holistic experiences; accommodations filled with unique design elements; top dining and wine collections; and an array of personalized services. Two in Mexico, one in the Dominican Republic, one opening in the D.R. in 2013.

• Secrets Resorts & Spas: Adults-only resorts with an emphasis on romance; 24-hour concierge and room service. Three in Mexico, fourth opening in Huatulco this summer and fifth in Puerto Vallarta in April 2012; in the D.R. one is open; another opens in May, and a third is slated for opening in 2013.

• Dreams Resorts & Spas: Couples and families; suite accommodations; many activities day and night. Eight in Mexico, three in the D.R. and one in Costa Rica, opening in 2013.

• Now Resorts & Spas: Hip, lively and romantic. One in Ixtapa, opening in November; one opening in the D.R. May 1 and three more in 2013.

• Sunscape Resorts & Spas: Fun for families, singles, couples. Kids' club, themed restaurants, activities. One in Ixtapa, opening in November.

AMResorts has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the luxury leisure market since its founding in 2001. By the end of the year, it will finish that decade of growth and expansion with 26 resorts spanning five brands in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. By the end of 2013, that number will climb to 34 resorts, including one in Costa Rica, offering a total of 12,554 rooms.

Alex ZozayaAsk Alex Zozaya, president and CEO, how construction is progressing at Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta (opening in summer 2012), and he offers a detailed update down to the last nail pounded.

How about the occupancies in March at Dreams Punta Cana or the projected bookings for Zoetry Casa del Mar Los Cabos over Easter week? Zozaya reels off the statistics without benefit of notes.

"We track consumer trends," he said. "We keep moving, evolving and adapting our product and our brands. We seize opportunities, and we look for more all the time."

One such opportunity was finalized recently between AMResorts and NH Hoteles, a Spanish firm best known for its urban properties in 25 countries.

The pilot plan joining brand management and hotel management will be implemented in two NH properties in Playa Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Effective May 1, the NH Royal Beach and the NH Real Arena will be operated by NH under two of AMResorts' brands, Secret Resorts & Spas and Now Resorts & Spas.

The hotels will be reflagged as Secrets Royal Beach and Now Larimar, with all the amenities and services attached to the two brands.

"We will provide sales, marketing and brand management services," Zozaya said. "The alliance allows us to maximize the commercial and management synergies of both companies."

There will be more such collaborative efforts in the future, Zozaya said.

Now Jade Riviera CancunAMResorts describes itself as a provider of sales, marketing and brand management services. Depending upon the particular property, the company acquires, owns, manages, builds or invests in the property, sometimes a mix of several, althoughAMResorts' core business is managing hotels, according to Zozaya.

"We know what we do well. We only compete in resort areas. In creating AMResorts, we went beyond the best of the high-end market offerings and made our properties a more exceptional experience for guests," he said.

Luxury does not have to be boring, Zozaya said.

"There is opportunity and room for innovation," he said. "It just depends on where those opportunities lie."

The development of the Zoetry brand (whose name is derived from Greek words for "life" and "art form") was an opportunity to combine a wellness trend with a luxury product, Zozaya said.

"Zoetry resorts offer sensory experiences from romantic to holistic," he said. "The spa services, accommodations, menus and environmental standards that are practiced all cater to a specific market of luxury guests."

Another example of catching a trend is AMResorts' relaunch of its Sunscape Resorts & Spas brand, which has been dormant for a few years but will be reintroduced in November with the opening of the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa, following a $10 million renovation.

It will mark the debut of AMResorts in Ixtapa on Mexico's Pacific coast.

"This was the first brand we launched 10 years ago: dynamic and friendly resorts offering unlimited fun," Zozaya said. "It made sense at the time when consumers did not understand that all-inclusive properties could also offer a luxury experience.

Secrets St. James"Several years ago, major investments were made into the existing Sunscape properties, and we rebranded them to Dreams Resorts & Spas," Zozaya said. Although Sunscape has been asleep for a few years, it was never really gone.

"We have just been waiting for the right property and the right time to relaunch," he said. "A lot of four-star properties are now underperforming as a result of the economic crisis, and that gives us an opportunity to put our software and the power of our distribution systems into certain resorts, which will add value to the properties' owners and investors."

Agreements for two more future Sunscapes already have been signed, with up to five more in the pipeline.

One constant focus for AMResorts is its relationship with travel agents.

Its revamped website provides direct access to virtual tours, tools and resources, downloadable brochures and guides to help agents identify the property that best suits their clients' needs.

A new Master agent education program, also available through the site, invites registered members to participate in eight online seminars.

Those who "graduate" earn special offers, rewards and booking incentives.

"We have more than 3,000 registered agents, and the number is growing all the time," Zozaya said.

"The seminars and tools help agents sell our products but also help sell themselves," he said. "This adds value all around. Agents need to know the differences in each of our brands, and they cannot sell the products unless they know the products."

Fam trips are also a big part of AMResorts'agent education efforts.

Agents and tour operators account for more than 60% of all business transactions at AMResorts.

Dreams Puerto VallartaAlthough occupancies were slightly up this winter over last, particularly in Punta Cana and Jamaica, rates across the board remain lower than last year, Zozaya said.

He cited challenges such as the economic crisis; competition from U.S. resort areas, especially in Florida; the increase in operational costs; the high price of air tickets; and, in Mexico, the crime perception.

"We're fighting for more airlift capacity everywhere," he said. "Consumers may be spending the same amount of money on a vacation, but more of that money goes into airline tickets, so the hotels get less."

However, AMResorts' spreadsheet was robust at year's end and continues to be so. The company grew 35% in revenues and profits last year over 2009, and Zozaya predicts another 33% jump this year.

He hopes to grow his incentive and groups business, now 20% of the total, to 25% this year.

The wedding market is "our bread and butter, and we are putting a lot of our resources into this segment," he said. "Weddings are especially popular at our Dreams resorts, where we do an average of 400 per resort per year."

And he is eyeing additional destinations for all the brands, particularly in new markets such as Cozumel and Manzanillo, Mexico, as well as Aruba, St. Thomas, the Cayman Islands and Panama.



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