Wyndham launches luxury-focused 21st brand

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has launched its 21st brand. Registry Collection Hotels adds a luxury offering to the upper end of the company’s brand portfolio.

Leo Danese, brand leader and VP of operations for Registry Collection Hotels, said the company saw an opportunity to partner with independent luxury owners to assist them as they recover from the challenges of the past year. Partnering owners will have access to Wyndham's hospitality professionals, as well as a range of services including strategic sourcing, global sales, revenue management, marketing and distribution, operations support and training.

“This is opportunistic for us,” Danese said. “There were some opportunities in the luxury space that we hadn't been able to take advantage of. So although our main focus and Wyndham’s core portfolio is always going to be economy and midscale, we took it as a chance to really develop our portfolio in that upper-upscale and luxury space.” 

Adapting a New Brand

During his time as CEO of what was then known as Wyndham Destinations and is today Travel + Leisure, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts President and CEO Geoff Ballotti played a pivotal role in growing and establishing The Registry Collection luxury exchange over nearly 20 years. “This has always been kind of a special brand for him, and one that he wanted to pursue in the hotel space,” Danese said. Bringing the brand over from timeshare to traditional hotels gave the company a chance to attract owners and developers who want to gain ground in both segments, and as the industry struggled through the pandemic, Danese and his team met with owners to discuss leaving the exchange and joining Wyndham Hotels & Resorts as a standalone brand. The talks ramped up over the last six months, he added. 

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“As the hospitality industry continues to rebound, independent luxury hotel owners around the world have approached our development teams seeking sales, marketing and reservations support under a proven and established luxury brand,” Ballotti said in a statement. “The creation of Registry Collection Hotels was a natural fit, given Registry’s growing global recognition as the world’s largest luxury exchange program with over 200 high-end luxury fractional resorts and the continued successful management of that program by our partner Travel + Leisure Co. (formerly Wyndham Destinations). Registry Collection Hotels now fill an important space at the upper end of the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts portfolio, allowing us to very selectively provide support to independent hoteliers around the globe who meet the highest standards of luxury service and accommodations.” 

Debut Property

The collection debuts today with the brand’s flagship resort, the 144-suite Grand Residences Riviera Cancun in Mexico. The all-suite property has an oceanfront infinity pool, a spa, a gym, a kids club and three restaurants. The resort is owned and managed by affiliates of the Royal Resorts group of companies.

Kemil A. Rizk, president and CEO of Royal Resorts, was anxious to get onto Wyndham’s platforms and distribution system, Danese said, and the resort was “the exact type of type of property you want to partner with for the first hotel as you as you launch your brand.” 

“From day one, the team at Wyndham has been holistically focused on the needs of our resort, working closely with our team as we collaboratively develop our strategy to announce our flagship affiliation,” Rizk said in a statement. “What we value about Wyndham, in addition to their tremendous scale and distribution, is their appreciation for what makes Grand Residences Riviera Cancun unique and their passion for ensuring our individuality is never compromised. The highly esteemed reputation of Wyndham makes us proud to be marking this milestone with them and we look forward to continuing to develop our brand alliance.” 

Gaining Ground

Danese said his team will be “very selective” with who they partner with in the future as the brand grows. “I believe this is a global brand. We have a tremendous team over in Asia-Pacific and [Europe, Middle East and Africa markets]. We're in discussions in Europe in specific urban markets. So I will say although our focus and early successes have been in the Latin America and Caribbean market, and specifically in that leisure area, that's not to say that we don't see opportunities in the urban markets as well.”

Wyndham’s most recent brand launch was the Trademark Collection by Wyndham brand in 2017, and Danese also oversees that soft brand. That collection of independent upper-midscale and upscale hotels has since grown its footprint to more than 110 hotels. New additions include the Kunuku Resort All Inclusive in Curacao, the Turtle Island Beach Resort in Belize and the Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort in St. Croix. 

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The two collections will operate in separate chain scale segments and will cooperate rather than compete, Danese said. His team is working with an owner in the Caribbean who will enter the Wyndham system as a Trademark and then undergo a two-year-long property improvement plan to reach the luxury segment. “We are sending a team down there next week to work on that property improvement plan to make sure that they're up to that luxury level,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to work with hotel owners to connect them as quickly as possible [to our network], but also make sure that they have the luxury caliber that we expect. So although [the two brands are in] completely distinct chain scales, I think it gives us the opportunity to work with properties to improve themselves if they want to get to that luxury space.” 

Conversions will help the brand gain ground quickly, Danese added, but some new-build properties are also in the pipeline. Wyndham has approximately 8,900 hotels across nearly 95 countries in its franchise portfolio.