Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Aimbridge takes aim at meeting market

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 3:00 AM
File The Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, Montego Bay.

Kathleen Casper of Aimbridge Hospitality's Resort Division said on Tuesday that the management company, which has been tapped to operate a fourth Sagicor property in Jamaica, will be going after the meeting and conventions market to drive revenue for property.

Sagicor Real Estate X Fund, which took possession of the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in February, now has a resort portfolio comprising 1,230 rooms across four properties, all managed by aimbridge.

Aimbridge indicates that the property has undergone over US$50 million of renovations over recent years, monies that were spent on redesigns of rooms, suites and remodelled meeting space.

Casper said that Aimbridge will be adding some new features and upgrades at Rose Hall throughout 2015.

functional space

"Our priority is the group, meeting and convention market, including the many religious groups that meet on the island," said the regional director in charge of public relations.

"The resort has some of the most functional and versatile meeting space on the island, both for small, intimate meetings as well as large conventions."

The hotel will have competition from the nearby Montego Bay Convention Centre, but Casper said the proximity is a plus for Hilton Rose Hall, and that it was "key" to its ambitions.

She adds, however, that Aimbridge plans to remain focused on a loyal market segment for the hotel - families - while going after additional business from golf enthusiasts and weddings.

"The family market has always been a number-one favorite at Rose Hall, especially due to the unique Sugar Mill Falls Waterpark, one of the most popular in the Caribbean. This market continues to thrive," she said.

Hilton Rose Hall is a 489-room property which sits on 400 acres fronting the coast. Sagicor, which acquired the property from Blackstone Group, will operate it under the Hilton brand for now, but says it will eventually rebrand it a Jewel resort.

With its eye on meetings, golf, family and weddings, Casper said Aimbridge aims to grow revenue at the property by 10 per cent in the first year of operation.

Questioned whether or not room rates will be raised, she said: "We are currently honouring existing rate contracts and reservations. There is not a price increase scheduled at the moment, however, pricing changes with market trends. And of course, all Jewel Resorts, as well as Hilton Rose Hall, offer special local rates during the summer months. This will not change."

The other Sagicor-held properties managed by Aimbridge are Jewel Dunn's River Beach Resort & Spa, Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort, and Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa.

The management company will unveil the new Lagoon Waterpark at Jewel Runaway Bay this month, which they describe as a multimillion-dollar playground for all ages, will continue to draw new and repeat customers to the Runaway Bay area.

Casper, commenting on occupancy at the Jewel properties, said they averaged 70 per cent at the end of the first year of full operation at Jewel Paradise Cove, 75 per cent at Jewel Runaway Bay, and 85 per cent at Jewel Dunn's River.

"All three properties have experienced many sell-out dates throughout the year during high demand periods and due to the high service levels that Jewel has become known for," she said.

Jewel Runaway Bay Beach just received the 2015 Travellers' Choice TripAdvisor Award, she adds.

Aimbridge Hospitality is a hotel investment and management firm based in Dallas, Texas, but with development offices in Chicago, Dallas and Puerto Rico, Aimbridge currently owns and/or manages more than 200 hotels with nearly 27,000 rooms across the United States and the Caribbean.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com