Oasis pursues upscale clientele with Sens, a new boutique brand

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Oasis Hotels & Resorts is no longer limited to its namesake brands. This year, the company unveiled Sens, a chain providing a boutique complement to its established Oasis brands.

The first Sens property, the 58-room Sens Cancun, opened in August as a conversion of part of the Oasis America. The 260-room Sens del Mar is slated to open in Cancun on Dec. 20, next door to the Oasis Viva Beach Resort.

The company now has the Sens, Oasis and Grand Oasis brands. It operates seven  all-inclusive hotels in Mexico and four in the Dominican Republic.

The introduction of the new brand was a logical strategy for today's marketplace, according to Enrique Klein, vice president of sales and marketing at TravAmerica, which markets the Oasis brands in the U.S.

"It is clear that today's consumer is more sophisticated and educated than ever before," Klein said. "A more upscale segment of the market is looking for a more personalized, unique and tailor-made travel experience regardless of where the specific hotel is located. At the same time, today's consumer is also looking for the best value for their money -- best product and best service at the right price."

This is where the new brand in the Oasis family comes into play, Klein said.

"The Sens brand represents a more upscale travel experience, with a more boutique resort feeling," he said. "This new brand represents the most upscale, higher-priced of our hotel group today.

"The Sens brand will cater to our guests' needs," he added. "Upon arrival, guests will be able to select the type of music they enjoy, specific aromas they prefer."

In addition, the hip ambience is enhanced with "chill-out music" throughout the resort plus "beautiful decor with a minimalist, South Beach look and feel," Klein said.

The Sens Cancun features guest rooms with plasma TVs, Internet access, iPod docking stations and aromatherapy scents. The property also has a spa, coffee shop, Japanese restaurant and bar. The Sens del Mar will have similar amenities.

Since its introduction this year, reaction to the Sens brand has met the company's expectations, according to Klein.

"Consumer response to this new product and concept has been very positive," he said. "There is clearly a considerable market niche looking for smaller, more personalized resorts. Acceptance by our travel partners has also been very positive."

Big spending on upgrades

Oasis has invested about $90 million within the past year to upgrade its seven properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. By the end of this year, the company will operate 4,000 rooms in 10 all-inclusive resorts in Mexico.

In addition to the Sens hotels, the company will open the 385-room Grand Oasis Caribbean Beach Resort in Cancun on Dec. 21. The resort, a new construction, had a soft opening in August, but then closed to finish preparations.

To help keep consumers interested in the Oasis family of properties, the company last year introduced the Oasis Loves You loyalty program. Klein said the program has been "growing consistently" since its launch.

Oasis now offers a free Weddings at Oasis package that it values at $1,199. Included are the services of a wedding coordinator, priority room assignments, VIP check-in for the couple and guests, an upgrade to a suite for the bride and groom, a civil ceremony and a 10% discount on select spa services.

The package is available to couples who book at least five double rooms, with a minimum four-night stay. The package is applicable for weddings at the Grand Oasis Cancun, Grand Oasis Riviera Maya, Grand Oasis Playa, Oasis Cancun and Oasis Viva Beach.

Also key to Oasis's strategy is the travel agent community, Klein said. The company's Travel Agent Rewards Program "represents a key element within our marketing and sales mix," according to Klein.

"The retail travel community represents a key source of distribution and business for Oasis Hotels & Resorts," he said. "Although this is a relatively new program, its growth rate is very consistent."

The agent program, which is accessible through the Oasis Web site, "is very friendly to the user and very simple to manage and maintain by each participating member," Klein said.

"Another key is the fact that this program generates very quick and consistent rewards. Agents don't have to wait long periods of time before receiving cash awards."

Cancun and beyond

With Cancun a hotspot for Oasis' growth, the destination's overall performance during low and high seasons is important to the company, and Klein said he's pleased with booking trends.

"The booking pace for 2008 is looking very healthy from all geographic markets," said Klein. "The highest level of booking activity starts in mid-October."

Part of Cancun's popularity, Klein said, is the result of efforts to educate the public about the destination's recovery following Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

"Communicating the great news about Cancun's incredible recovery, which took place in a remarkably short term, has been a team effort involving Mexico's authorities and the private sector, including hotels and all other hospitality service providers, wholesalers and tour operators as well as the professional travel community.

"We feel that at this time, the consumer is very well aware of the fact that Cancun is not only ready, but better equipped than ever before," Klein added.

The chances are that the Oasis brand, and perhaps Sens, will be popping up in other destinations.

"At this time there are multiple potential areas for growth, both within Mexico as well as other key destinations, such as the Dominican Republic and in Europe," said Klein. "There is no question that the Oasis group, through our diverse brands, will continue to expand."

For more information about Oasis Hotels & Resorts and Sens Resorts, call (800) 44-OASIS, or visit www.oasishotels.com.

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

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