PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- Playa Hotels & Resorts
chief marketing officer Kevin Froemming is confident that Dominican Republic
tourism is on the upswing after a difficult 2019.
Froemming spoke at Playa’s fourth annual Spotlight Awards on
Friday at the new Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cap Cana all-inclusive resorts.
“A lot of questions have come up about where the D.R. is
today, is it coming back, and I can tell you that just in the last three days,
we booked over a million dollars in revenue at this property,” Froemming said,
addressing a group of roughly 100 top-performing U.S. and Canadian travel
Located within the private gated community of Cap Cana, the
adults-only Hyatt Zilara and family-friendly Hyatt Ziva opened in December.
After a spate of tourist deaths in the first half of 2019,
the Dominican Republic was hit by an onslaught of negative press, which sent
visitor numbers plummeting. There had been speculation that the deaths were linked, caused
by poisoning from tainted alcohol. However, FBI testing uncovered no tainted
Froemming told Travel Weekly that the destination’s comeback
was “definitely in motion.” He credited recent efforts by travel agency
partners and the trade to “dispel a lot of the myths about the situation.”
As a result, Playa is bullish on its outlook for the 750-room
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cap Cana complex, which collectively houses a total of 12
restaurants, 17 bars and lounges, a 14,000-square-foot fitness center and
45,000 square feet of meeting and event space, among other amenities.
The sprawling development sits just next door to another
Playa-owned and -operated all-inclusive, the 174-room Sanctuary Cap Cana, an adults-only resort.
A guestroom at the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana.
“We’re looking at potentially getting a water taxi to
shuttle people back and forth so that people staying at Sanctuary can come over
here during the day, and vice versa,” added Froemming. “We think that’s going
to be spectacular.”
During the Spotlight Awards, attendees expressed optimism
about their ability to sell latest Hyatt all-inclusive products. Hyatt already
had Ziva and Zilara resorts in Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Jamaica.
According to Debbie Boyd, founder of Travel Happy Agency in
Cincinnati, her recent photo and video uploads of the property were gaining
sizable traction on social media.
“A lot of my business comes from either social media or
referrals, and just based on what I’ve posted so far, people seem very
interested,” Boyd said, adding that she’s seen especially strong interest among
clients who are World of Hyatt loyalty program members.
The morning after Friday’s award ceremony, Froemming
presented an update on the company’s broader expansion plans, telling attendees
that the company is currently eyeing opportunities in St. Lucia, Antigua, Jamaica and Aruba.
“Next to the Hilton Rose Hall, we’ve got a huge parcel of
land we’ll be building on over the next year,” said Froemming. “It will
basically give us two and half miles of property, from the extension of the
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Rose Hall to the Hilton, with maybe one or two properties
Looking beyond its Caribbean stronghold, Froemming said that
Playa also sees potential for the Ziva and Zilara brands in Bora Bora, Bali and
Meanwhile, Froemming emphasized that upside for both Hyatt
and Hilton all-inclusives remains massive, citing data gleaned from a market
research survey of approximately 130 million Hilton and Hyatt loyalty program
“We found less than 10% had even a moderate understanding of
all-inclusive, and less than 6% had actually been to an all-inclusive,” he said.
“So when you think about that, that’s 120 million customers that we’re now
going to be bringing into the [all-inclusive] environment. Anyone can go out
and steal market share, but to grow the business, it’s about getting new
customers into our destinations.”