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AMResorts to invest in two more Jamaican hotels

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 9:00 AM
CEO of Apple Leisure Group, Alex Zozaya.

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

ST THOMAS,

US Virgin Islands:

The world's largest provider of vacation business to the Caribbean, the Apple Leisure Group, is to add over 800 rooms to Jamaica's room stock.

According to Apple's Chief Executive Officer Alex Zozaya, in an exclusive interview during the State of the Industry Conference now on in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, his company will make an announcement by November.

The company, under its AMResorts brand, already operates two Secret Resorts on the island and is responsible for bringing some 250,000 visitors to Jamaica annually through its destination management companies, Cheap Caribbean, Travel Impression and Apple Vacations.

Zozaya says his organisation had its eyes on constructing over 400 rooms on new lands it plans on acquiring, and was also about to enter into an agreement with an existing player with the aim to purchase that property.

Word on the ground is that they are in active negotiations with Sunset Beach Resort in Montego Bay. Zozaya, however, did not confirm this.

"We cannot disclose who we are talking with, but by November we will make an announcement," he said, shortly after delivering the keynote address on the topic 'Realising the Vision: Positioning Caribbean Tourism for Major Change'.

It is also not clear which of the six resort brands the group will use. Currently, AMResorts operates Secrets, Zoetry, the newest Breathless, Now, Dreams and Sunscape.

Under his three destination management companies, Zozaya brought two million passengers to 28 Caribbean countries and 220 different hotels last year.

"The spend was US$790 million in the region," he said, adding that 70 per cent of the passengers flew commercial.

Apple Leisure Group's announcement comes in the wake of plans by one of the newest players, Blue Diamond Resorts, to construct an additional 600 rooms in Trelawny. Approval has already been given by the Government, Sunday Business understands.

Construction to be done in phases is expected to start in October, that group's director of sales, Kerry-Ann Quallo-Casserly, says.

"We will increase our Royalton White Sands inventory by 180 in phase two," Quallo-Casserly said. On completion, the hotel group will have 1,000 rooms in the northwestern parish, and plans are in the pipeline to increase the number of rooms at their Grand Lido Negril property next year, she told Sunday Business.

"There is always greater demand than supply," said the Blue Diamond sales director.

- janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com