Dreams Puerto VallartaApple Leisure Group predicts "a very good year" in 2014, according to Alex Zozaya, CEO.

"Last year was an amazing year for us, and this year will be even better," Zozaya said.

"Our global projection this year is 2 million passengers carried through four divisions: American Express Vacations, Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions and Cheap Caribbean," he said at a presentation held at the recent Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association annual Marketplace event in Jamaica.

Despite the Caribbean venue and the event name, Mexico strategies and expansion plans figured prominently in Zozaya's remarks during his overview of fast-growing Apple Leisure and its six companies: Apple Vacations, AMResorts, destination management company Amstar DMC, the members-only Unlimited Vacation Club, Travel Impressions and CheapCaribbean.com.

In addition to 2013 being "a very good year" for Apple Leisure, it also was a busy one.

The company acquired Travel Impressions last June and followed that up with CheapCaribbean.com in September.

Villa Los Cabos Casa Lisa PortobelloLast month, Travel Impressions introduced dedicated charter flights from 24 U.S. gateways to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Costa Rica on Aeromexico, AirTran, Frontier and JetBlue.

At the same time, Apple Vacations added Travel Impressions' villa inventory throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe and Hawaii. Villa inventory in Mexico alone totals 155 properties.

"Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions and CheapCaribbean.com are independent entities and continue to market and operate as such with different price points and products, but will share some services and back-of-the-house strategies," Zozaya said.

"All three companies sell charter seats to Mexico and the Caribbean, and we're introducing some new routes this year. All three brands are poised for growth in their market segments and in distribution channels."

Together, the three are the largest sellers of all-inclusive packages in the U.S. to Mexico and the Caribbean, according to Zozaya.

Secrets Playa Mujeres rendering"Each company stands on its own feet and merits," he said.

New U.S.-Mexico charter routes include nonstop flights from Philadelphia; Rockford, Ill.; and St. Louis to Puerto Vallarta; Newport News, Va., and San Antonio to Cancun; and Dallas to Los Cabos.

AMResorts' 2013 portfolio was capped by the December opening of the 500-room Secrets Puerto Los Cabos, which brought the company's resort total to six brands representing 34 resorts across Mexico and the Caribbean with an inventory of 13,151 rooms.

Of the 34 properties, 24 are in key Mexican resort areas spread along both its Gulf and Pacific coasts.

"Three more resorts are set to open in Mexico this year and next," Zozaya said, ticking off the 438-room Secrets Playa Mujeres, opening in November, and the December 2015 openings on the Riviera Maya of the 425-room Secrets Akumal and the 500-room Breathless Petempich.

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera MayaAMResorts' 447-room Dreams Las Mareas will debut along Costa Rica's Pacific coast late this year.

"By the end of 2015 AMResorts' brands will be in 14 destinations in 38 resorts representing 14,956 rooms and 21,524 employees," Zozaya said.

Recent resort enhancements include 44 new Preferred Club swim-out suites and 42 oceanview and junior suite oceanview units at the 180-suite Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa on the Riviera Maya.

Other upgrades include the new Lounge Bar, the expanded Barefoot Grill, renovations to the sports and cinema bar and the reopening of the Sky Bar.

The 230-suite Secrets Aura Cozumel added 62 junior suites of 550 square feet each created from 112 rooms and added a swim-up bar. The Desires Music Lounge will open shortly.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.  

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