Excellence Group spills beans on new brand plans

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Excellence Group, which owns beach resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, is pushing its brand in a new direction, with a new identity and new properties in the works.

Operations and marketing of the company's two existing resorts -- one in Cancun and one in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic -- had been handled by AMResorts as part of its Secrets brand.

Last October, the former Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancun officially became Excellence Riviera Cancun, as Excellence Group took over all aspects of running the resort.

In the Dominican Republic, the Excellence Punta Cana relaunched with new branding and management on Jan. 1.

"The alliance with AMResorts had been enormously positive for both parties, but without a doubt the time had arrived to go to the next level," said Ignacio Fernandez, vice president of sales and marketing at Excellence Group.

"The good positioning of the two hotels, as well as the growth potential for the coming years, made it necessary to modify the business strategy, and with it, to begin thinking about maximizing the potential of our own brand with the objective of strengthening our positioning in the luxury all-inclusive segment."

The new strategy and brand identity also ties in with Excellence Group's plans to open new properties.

"The Excellence brand [launch] came at the moment when the group decided to assume the operation and marketing of its own hotels -- not only those that are already open, but also the ones that will be constructed over the coming years."

Upping the ante in Cancun

Excellence Group opened its first property, what until January was known as the Secrets Excellence Punta Cana, about six years ago. Since then, it's acquired additional land in the Mexican Caribbean and in Jamaica. Excellence Riviera Cancun opened in October 2004 with the name Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancun.

  Excellence Group is the product of an investment partnership between two companies, Medieval Times and Explotacions Turistiques de les Illes (also known as ETI). Both were founded in Mallorca, Spain, and each has a 50% stake in Excellence Group.

When Excellence Group officially took over Excellence Riviera Cancun, it unveiled a variety of upgrades and improvements, including free Internet access in guest rooms.

For example, the addition of an a la carte restaurant specializing in lobster dishes improved and "added to gastronomic variety," according to Fernandez, and brought the number of a la carte eateries on site to eight. In addition, the debut of the beachside Chill Out Bar bumped up the number of the resort's nightspots to 10.

Room for more

As Fernandez touted improvements to the company's freshly renamed Mexico property, he also announced plans for expansion of the company's profile.

By the end of 2007, Excellence Group plans to open its second property in Mexico, the 440-room Excellence Playa Mujeres on Isla Mujeres just off of Cancun. The all-suite property will have its own marina, a convention center and a 27-hole, Greg Norman-designed golf course.

And by the end of 2008, the company plans to open Excellence Oyster Bay, a 350-room property between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It will be the company's first resort on that island.

Fernandez said the new properties are in line with Excellence Group's long-range growth plans and its positioning as an upscale resort brand with an adults-only policy of only accepting guests age 18 and over.

"The investment strategy of the group has always been focused on product of the highest quality, finding well-situated land on the best beaches and building hotels that can be marketed to the highest market segment for all-inclusive hotels," he said.

To contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].

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