Hilton delves deeper into all-inclusives with Playa deal

Renovations at the Royal Playa del Carmen are slated to begin this November, with completion targeted for late 2019.
Renovations at the Royal Playa del Carmen are slated to begin this November, with completion targeted for late 2019.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico -- Hilton is making a big play in all-inclusive resorts, expanding a partnership with Playa Hotels & Resorts to convert properties in the Caribbean and Mexico to the Hilton brand.

The Royal Playa del Carmen in Mexico and Dreams La Romana in the Dominican Republic will be renovated and reflagged as Hiltons, with Playa managing the resorts. 

Furthermore, Hilton and Playa plan to convert up to eight more all-inclusives by 2025.

"All-inclusive resorts allow a broader array of customers at different price points to enjoy a reasonable value proposition," said Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta at a press conference at the Royal Playa del Carmen on Monday. "All-inclusives have been fast-growing, but it has not been a mainstream segment. We're pretty confident that by taking our soon-to-be 100 million Hilton Honors members and partnering with Playa, we're going to open it up and make it a much more mainstream experience." 

Both converted properties will allow guests to earn and redeem Hilton Honors points.

Hilton and Playa Resorts are already aligned at the all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in Jamaica. Globally, Hilton has 11 all-inclusive resorts, with several properties in emerging markets like Egypt, Turkey and Bulgaria. Playa Resorts owns and/or manages 20 resorts in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. 

Playa Resorts chairman and CEO Bruce Wardinski believes that the Hilton move will help the company reach a broader audience. The company already has a similar partnership with Hyatt.

"It's amazing to us how small a percentage of guests, particularly U.S. guests, have experienced all-inclusive resorts. We're excited to market our products to Hilton guests that have probably been curious about all-inclusive, but perhaps haven't been willing or brave enough to try it," said Wardinski. The familiarity of the Hilton brand could help ease anxieties for guests unaccustomed to traveling out of the country, he added. 

Renovations at the Royal Playa del Carmen and Dreams La Romana -- including revamps of guestrooms, public spaces and restaurants -- are slated to begin this November, with completion targeted for late 2019. The Dreams La Romana is owned by Playa Resorts and is currently managed by AMResorts, owner of the Dreams brand.

According to Playa Resorts executive vice president and chief marketing officer Kevin Froemming, the properties will continue to offer signature perks that their guests expect. 

"Things we do here at the Royal, like our pillow menu, and the ability to pick the time your room will be cleaned, will continue," he noted. "Those things are a big deal to our guests, and as we roll out Hilton, those things actually will become consistent across the portfolio."

Froemming added that Playa Resorts will focus on helping travel agents navigate the transition and leverage the Hilton Honors program. 

"Travel agents have told me that they often don't have access to those customers that are interested in points offers. At Playa, we have built our brand on the trade, so we're looking to integrate point collection so that travel agents always have the ability to service those guests. We're working on a solution with our agents so that they have the ability, if a customer comes to them and they're a Hilton Honors member, to get those customers their full points."

Playa Resorts is concurrently in expansion mode with Hyatt, with plans to open the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic next year. 

Playa Resorts' other Hyatt-flagged properties include the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, Hyatt Ziva Cancun, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta and Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in Mexico, as well as the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica.


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