Look for a bounty of hotels and resorts to begin construction this year in the Caribbean, while travelers to the region will find a slew of new properties that have opened their doors in the past year.
In addition, renovations and expansions are taking place at dozens of properties throughout the region, not to mention resorts coming back on line after completion of repairs from hurricane damage.
“The entire region appears to be poised for significant growth in the hotel sector, based on the number of announced projects under contract,” STR said in its Caribbean/Mexico pipeline report in October. (Under contract includes projects in construction, final planning and planning stages.)
Here are some highlights:
The hotel product in the Dominican Republic is hot, with more than 3,274 rooms under contract, several of which are in Punta Cana. That includes Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ $300 million project for the Dorado Resort and Sensimar Resort hotels in the Cap Cana area, with 250 rooms each.
In addition, the first Margaritaville All-Inclusive Experience by Karisma resort in Punta Cana is slated to begin construction in 2018.
Palace Resorts has announced plans to open its first resort in Punta Cana, although no timeline has been given.
Also planned for Punta Cana is the 1,020 Lopesan Costa Bavaro, opening in May 2019, adjacent to the 650-room IFA Villas Bavaro.
The 730-room Royalton Bavaro has begun construction.
Iberostar is building 3,000 more hotel rooms in two hotels, one in Punta Cana and the second in Santo Domingo, while H10 Hotels broke ground in November in Uvero Alto, the northernmost beach area of Punta Cana, for a 909-room hotel, opening in November.
The adults-only 1,007-room Riu Republica in Punta Cana, which opened in 2016, recently added a 501-room wing and Splash Water World. The new wing includes four restaurants, a jerk grill on the beach, three bars and three pools. Riu has four other resorts in Punta Cana that feature a water park.
The adults-only Hideaway at the Royalton Punta Cana opened in November.
Jamaica’s proposed Celebration Jamaica project, a 2,000-room entertainment complex at Rose Hall in Montego Bay with several hotels and a casino, has been on the books since Jamaica passed legislation in 2010 to develop a casino market. Celebration and Harmony Cove Ltd. were approved to begin developing casino resorts, with the requirement that the developers build at least 2,000 rooms in phases. Timelines for both are delayed due to some financial snags.
The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa on Jamaica’s north coast, on the site of the former Palmyra Resort and Spa, opened last fall with 217 suites in three beachfront towers and 11 villas.
Twelve overwater bungalows debuted in December on a heart-shaped pier at Sandals South Coast (formerly Sandals Whitehouse).
Karisma’s Azul Beach Sensitori opened in June in Negril, a 149-room expansion of Karisma Sensitori.
The 407-suite, all-ages Royalton Negril and the adjacent 166-suite adults-only Hideaway Royalton Negril opened in 2017.
The adults-only 150-room Breathless Montego Bay opened last winter. Guests have access to the amenities of the nearby Secrets St. James and Secrets Wild Orchid.
The 146-room Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach in Montego Bay opened its doors last winter as well, joining two other Decameron properties in Montego Bay and St. Ann.
The 120-room Spanish Court Montego Bay, formerly Breezes, opened last fall on Montego Bay’s hip strip and offers two restaurants, a cafe, gym and several bars, including a rooftop pool bar with views of Doctor’s Cave Beach.
The nine-suite Quintessence Boutique Resort opened Jan. 1 as Anguilla’s first newbuild since the Reef came on the scene in 2016 (the Reef, meanwhile, will reopen sometime later this year following hurricane repairs).
The Park Hyatt St. Kitts, the brand’s first venture in the Caribbean, debuted on Nov. 1 on Banana Bay in Christophe Harbour with 48 suites and 78 rooms.
The all-inclusive 36-suite Serenity at Coconut Bay opened in October on St. Lucia’s south coast, five minutes from Hewannora Airport — a big bonus for those who dread the two-hour, winding drive to resorts further up the west coast.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian unveiled nine new overwater honeymoon butler bungalows, while sister property Sandals Halycon Beach opened its beachfront crystal lagoon suites, each with swim-up access from the main pool.
The 222-suite Sandals Royal Barbados, adjacent to the 280-room Sandals Barbados, welcomed its first guests on Dec. 20.
The adults-only Treasure Beach reopened in December as a member of Elegant Hotels & Resorts (Elegant’s ninth property, Hodges Bay Resort, will open on Antigua’s north coast later this year.)
The 252-room Crane Resort and Beach Houses completed phase one of the Crane Private Residences, a gated residential community within the resort.
When completed in early 2019, the project will include five residences, which will be available to resort guests when not owner-occupied.
The all-inclusive Curtain Bluff completed a $13 million million re-do following a six-month closure and welcomed its guests back last fall. The 72-room and suite resort on the south coast “has a new updated, elegant look, but its charm remains the same,” according to Rob Sherman, managing director.
The Sandals Grande Antigua reopened in December, following a three-month closure to refresh and update.
Turks & Caicos
Beaches Turks & Caicos welcomed guests in mid-December, following a closure since September due to hurricane damage.
The Shore Club, which opened on Long Bay in 2017, unveiled three oceanfront villas on Jan. 1. Each of the six-bedroom villas has a heated pool, terraces, an elevator for service providers, a butler and a private chef. Villa guests have access to all the facilities at the Shore Club.
Sailrock Resort on South Caicos reopened last month following hurricane repairs. New to the resort is the Cove Restaurant & Beach Bar. Guests can now book one- and two-bedroom beachfront villas in addition to the three- and four-bedroom options that have been available since Sailrock opened last January. All villas have private pools and oversized terraces overlooking the Atlantic.
Club Med Turkoise in Providenciales is on target for a Jan. 31 reopening, after repairing damage from the hurricanes.
The Riu Paradise Island reopened last summer as an adults-only resort with 379 revamped rooms, four bars, 24-hour room service and a buffet restaurant serving three meals a day.
On the Baha Mar front: The 299-room SLS Baha Mar, one of three hotels in Nassau’s $4.2 billion Baha Mar resort, opened on Nov. 17. Baha Mar already includes parent company SBE food-and-beverage outlets Cleo, Katsuya and Monkey Bar; the Bond nightclub and Skybar lounge opened in December; the Skybar lounge is set to open later this year. The 1,800-room Grand Hyatt Baha Mar opened in May, and a 280-room Rosewood hotel is due to open this spring.
Silversands, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, will debut in March with 43 suites and nine villas overlooking Grand Anse Beach, the first big hotel project on that beach in more than 25 years. Resort highlights include a 300-foot-long swimming pool, a beach club and two restaurants.
The 146-key cliffside Kimpton Kawana Bay Resort is targeted to open in early 2019, also on Grand Anse Beach.
The Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman, which opened last fall, occupies a stretch of Seven Mile Beach. Its License to Chill Bar serves handcrafted cocktails including, of course, the resort’s signature margarita.