Monthly Archives: February 2017

Catch hotel business

Since its inception more than 16 years ago, Karisma Hotel & Resorts has remained steadfast in its commitment to agents. “Ninety-nine percent of our business comes through agents,” said Mandy Chomat, Karisma’s executive vice president. “We know their value. And that’s why we’re paying 21 percent.”

To earn commissions of 21 percent, agents must become certified as Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultants (GIVC). “We don’t want just anybody – we want agents who are committed to us and are really going to promote our product,” Chomat said. “We do things for GIVC agents that we don’t do for other travel agents, so they always have a competitive edge. And that’s really our driving force.”

Agents interested in capturing a larger share of Karisma business will find that the company’s brands appeal to a wide range of travelers. Here are four niches you should consider targeting.

WEDDINGS

“If agents are looking into the wedding space they’ll see that our wedding offerings are extremely competitive and our commissions are higher than the norm,” said Chomat.

Karisma features a three-night “Brides Dress Rehearsal” program, enabling couples to meet with onsite photographers, musicians, florists and the wedding team. They are able to sample menus, wedding cakes, and signature cocktails and wine pairings. Cost is $699 per couple. Couples receive $500 wedding credits when they book 10 or more rooms.

Karisma’s “Gourmet Inclusive Wedding Events” program provides couples with cuisine and beverage options, an array of ceremony locations, an onsite wedding planner, playlists and chef pairings. It features the “Memorable Moments Signature Wedding Collection,” with six themed options for weddings.

ROMANCE

“The El Dorado brand is for that adult traveler who really wants exceptional food, service and experiences to reignite the romance that we all start with. Everything is catered to what I call ‘perfecting connecting,’” said Chomat. “Everything’s catered to get people to just relax, take a step back and enjoy each other’s company. Besides all the amenities we have – whether it’s day beds in the casitas, the swim-up suites, the infinity pools – it’s just a romantic setting for adults.”

Last year, Karisma upped the ante on its romance offerings with the debut of 30 overwater bungalows, or palafitos, at El Dorado Maroma. In addition to stunning ocean views, the palafitos feature glass-bottom floors, private infinity pools, indoor Jacuzzis and large decks with lounge chairs.

“These are the first and only over-the-water offerings in all of Latin America, eliciting a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers seeking the ultimate luxury getaway – whether it’s to celebrate a honeymoon, birthday, anniversary, or for no reason at all but to become immersed in nature and be pampered with the finest hospitality,” Chomat said.

Full Speed Ahead

Brexit. Currency fluctuations. Terrorist attacks. These are just a few of the challenges to selling Europe in the 21st century. Yet tourism there is steadily increasing, albeit incrementally.

Preliminary findings show that international visitor numbers to Europe last year grew by 2 percent over 2015, despite “a number of destinations affected by safety and security challenges,” according to a statement by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In raw numbers, about 12 million more people took overnight trips to Europe in 2016 than in 2015, bringing the total to 620 million. Looking ahead, the majority of the UNWTO’s Panel of Experts project that tourism to Europe will grow by another 2 to 3 percent in 2017.

The challenges aren’t stopping major hotel companies from opening new properties there, either. Many, including InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, are moving ahead with developments. Among Marriott’s upcoming hotels are more than 20 Moxy properties, including about a dozen that are slated to open this year. IHG is developing hotels across several of its brands, including InterContinental, Hotel Indigo and Holiday Inn.

Following are a sampling of hotels scheduled to debut in 2017.

The 100-room Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square opened in January in the restored former headquarters of the Port of London Authority. The property, which is within walking distance from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, also has 41 private residences and a private members club. Three-star French chef Anne-Sophie Pic has opened La Dame de Pic, her first U.K. restaurant, in the hotel; an Asian restaurant is set to open this spring. The centerpiece of the lobby – a large, colorful rotunda – hovers over a bar and lounge. A spa is set to open this spring, as well as an indoor pool and vitality pool. 800-819-5053, www.fourseasons.com/tentrinity

At press time, Le Méridien Visconti Rome was slated to open in February. Located between the Spanish Steps and the Vatican, the hotel offers 240 accommodations with floor-to-ceiling windows and contemporary décor and furniture. Some suites feature private balconies, and Corner Suites have views of the Palace of Justice. Among the public areas are a rooftop terrace and Le Méridien Hub, a living room-like, multi-purpose space that offers the brand’s Sparkling Social Hour. Culinary options include an Italian restaurant and a French patisserie. 800-543-4300, www.lemeridienviscontirome.com

One of several Moxy properties under development in Europe, the Moxy Vienna Airport is set to debut in March. This millennial-targeted hotel offers 405 accommodations with USB ports and high-quality sound systems, among other perks. The bright, open lobby has contemporary furniture and “plug-and-meet” gathering areas with ergonomic seating, large writing walls, 56-inch TVs for presentations, a video wall, and snacks and beverages available 24/7. A healthy continental breakfast is served each morning, and local brews and wines by the glass are on tap each evening

Maine Resort

Location, Location, Location! Typically the first thing you’ll want to consider in a Maine resort is the location. This doesn’t just mean narrowing your options down to one particular city. Instead, you want to find a Maine resort that is right on the beach. This will cut down on commute time as you won’t have to shuttle back and forth from the beach to your resort. It will also typically afford you the most beautiful and romantic views. You’ll also want to look for an option that is relatively close to town as well. Money Saving Amenities Most any Maine resort you look into will offer some type of amenities. While many of them will be tempting you should keep in mind that you’ll want to look out for options that will save you money. For example, choosing a Maine resort that has a coffee maker in the room will prevent you from wasting money on costly cups of coffee. You can also choose an option with a microwave and mini-fridge to enable you to make a few simple meals in your room to cut down on the cost of dining out. Free Activities You’re likely to want a Maine resort that has many activities to choose from as well. Look for options like rowboats and canoes that come free of charge and include the use of life jackets. You might look into choices like the Beach Cove Hotel that also offers a picnic area, fireplace and mile long scenic walk. These free activities can help make sure you have the best time while also keeping costs low.

Variety of Rooms One thing that you’d do well to keep in mind is that the best plan is to look for a Maine resort that you and your family can return to again and again. This means that instead of choosing a Maine resort that meets your needs as they exist now, you’ll want to look for a resort that has other options as well. Look for a resort that has several sizes in rooms so that no matter your party size in the future you can return the to the resort you loved so much on your last trip.

Living in the palace

All-inclusive resorts have been around for more than 30 years in some form or another, but not all of the brands that have emerged in that time can be said to be truly innovative. A case in point is Palace Resorts, which has successfully combined premium accommodations with deluxe amenities, facilities and services – plus an emphasis on A-list entertainment and a full menu of resort activities.

“An unparalleled level of service and comfort is standard throughout every property under the Palace Resorts umbrella,” said Palace Resorts Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kathy Halpern, referring to the company’s eight properties in Mexico and its resort in Jamaica. “We take the all-inclusive concept to the next level with well-appointed guestrooms featuring in-room whirlpools. We also feature CHI-branded products and amenities, including flatirons and blowdryers, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soaps.”

Palace Resorts properties have also “raised the standard” on food-and-beverage offerings, said Halpern, offering guests “top-shelf alcohol and luxury dining throughout the resort,” plus 24-hour daily room service.

Additionally, Palace distinguishes itself on the entertainment front with performances by top-shelf international entertainers. “We’ve had top-notch performances featuring incredible acts such as Shaggy, Usher, Ricky Martin, OMI, Enrique Iglesias, Gloria Gaynor, and Kool and the Gang,” Halpern said, adding that Duran Duran closed out 2016 with a concert at the Moon Palace Arena, with The Cranberries scheduled to perform there this year.

In other developments, the Grand at Moon Palace Cancun, a resort-within-a-resort located within the Moon Palace Cancun complex, is undergoing a $450 million renovation, designed to elevate it to the “highest possible luxury standards,” said Halpern. The revamped property will offer travelers more than 1,300 guestrooms; an expanded lobby; nine outdoor swimming pools, including an adults-only pool with a live DJ; five swim-up bars; a beach club; a waterpark; and a bowling alley.

“The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun will offer guests who wish to elevate the concept of a traditional all-inclusive an unparalleled luxury feel,” said Halpern. “Guests of all ages will have hours of endless indoor and outdoor entertainment at their disposal via a massive waterpark and six-lane bowling alley.”

The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun will also offer guests eight dining options, including Asian, French, Lebanese and Mexican fare, and family-friendly facilities including The Playroom for younger kids, and a teen lounge featuring video games and a giant concession stand. Additionally, the resort will offer the Awe Spa, a new 76,875-square-foot facility featuring more than 60 spa suites, a hydrotherapy circuit, plunge pools, and steam and sauna rooms.