Sonesta plans 2009 debut in low-key San Carlos

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Sonesta International Hotels is augmenting its presence in Latin America, with planned debuts in Mexico and Costa Rica in 2009. The chain already operates six properties in Peru and two in Brazil. As of next year, it also will fly its flag in Mexico's Sonora State.

The 16-story, 460-room Sonesta Gran Posada Resort is to open on the beach in the Sonoran town of San Carlos, on the Sea of Cortes.

The property lies about 10 miles from Guaymas Airport and an hour from Hermosillo International Airport.

Alan Sonnabend, vice president of development for the Sonesta Collection, said it makes perfect sense for the company to make its Mexican debut in San Carlos, which is a lower-profile destination than established spots such as Los Cabos and Cancun. 

"The Sonesta Gran Posada Resort combines an amazing property with an exciting and unspoiled destination," Sonnabend said. "The opportunity in San Carlos is of particular interest, given its strong relationship to the Phoenix-Tucson-Scottsdale area, and Sonesta's strategic expansion west.

"While Cabo San Lucas might be a more well-known destination, the opportunity in San Carlos was presented at the right time," he added.

Sonnabend predicted that travelers driving from nearby regions in the U.S. will make up 20% of visitors to the resort. Local travelers will account for an estimated 15%, while international air arrivals from the North America and beyond will produce about 65% of the Sonesta's guest base.

Buyers from the U.S. likely will make up 50% of the condo ownership, Sonnabend predicted.

The property, a beachfront condo-hotel, is being developed by Playa de San Carlos LLC and will be managed by Sonesta. It will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, each with wall-to-wall windows and private terraces.

"The spectacular location of the resort on the Sea of Cortes, and its convenience to both Guaymas and Hermosillo airports, will result in a mostly transient guest base for the property," Sonnabend said.

The resort will offer a destination spa, family-friendly pool complex and 600 feet of beach. Sonnabend said ecotourism, thanks to the property's natural surroundings, will be a big draw.

"I expect that the resort will be very popular with families, couples and active seniors, and small group conventions [as] the resort will have 10,000 square feet of meeting space."

Multiple restaurants and bars will be located on-site, and an 18-hole championship golf course lies within walking distance.

Sonnabend said that a "Mexican flavor" will be apparent at the property.

"Sonesta is well-known for its authenticity," he said. "We bring the culture of our destinations into the property in the architecture, employees, art and cuisine. In San Carlos, that will mean breathtaking views from panoramic windows overlooking the Sea and the Sonoran Desert.

"Since the Sonesta Collection is precisely that, a collection of unique hotels around the world, the hotel will have its own identity but will also have similarities to our other beach resort destinations in Miami, St. Maarten, Taba and Hurghada in Egypt, and to our newest all-suite product in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica." 

Central location

Next year, Sonesta will also open its first property in Central America: The 190-room Sonesta Jaco Resort, on the Pacific coast, about a 90-minute drive from capital city San Jose.

"Jaco Beach is a wonderful debut, due to its proximity to San Jose and its position as a gateway to the southwest coast of Costa Rica. It is a pristine location with surfing, water sports and rainforest canopy tours, all available a short distance from the resort."

Perhaps because of the active diversions located nearby, Sonnabend predicted that the Costa Rican property "will be a resort that appeals to a younger, 30- to 50-year-old demographic -- very active with a real sense of the outdoors."

"Surfing and ecotourism opportunities are a big draw in this area, as will be the resort's destination spa and beach club."

The property is being developed by Riverside Developers, a company that has built several upscale residential communities in the suburbs of San Jose.

For more information on the Sonesta Gran Posada Resort, in San Carlos, Sonora, call (800) 766-3782 or visit www.sonesta.com.

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

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