CANCUN, MEXICO—Six months after announcing it was joining the all-inclusive resort segment, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ Alltra brand is off to a strong start, according to Scott LePage, president, Americas at Wyndham.
The first two properties—the 458-room Wyndham Alltra Cancun and the 287-room Wyndham Alltra Playa del Carmen, both of which are in Mexico—officially rebranded in December, with the official ribbon cutting at the Cancun property taking place at the end of April.
Wyndham is partnering with Playa Hotels & Resorts—an owner, operator and developer of all-inclusive resorts in vacation destination in Mexico and the Caribbean—for the first two properties in the upper-midscale segment brand.
LePage said Wyndham knew early on that Playa was the right company to partner with on the venture.
“The culture of the two organizations is so service focused. They're the right type of organization,” he said. “We have this great fit and … we realized this is an organization we feel great about doing business with. For me, Alltra has always been about having that strategic alliance, bringing [Playa’s] management style to these resorts and bringing in Wyndham's brand experience to help make it successful.”
Alltra’s target guest is broad, according to LePage, with some resorts geared toward families (such as the Cancun property) and some toward only adults (the Playa del Carmen property). One big driver of roomnights has been the Wyndham Rewards program.
“Over half the guests that are coming through our channels are loyalty members, and that’s what we had hoped for,” LePage said. “Our members are looking for this type of opportunity. This is the right segment the right experience that we want to hit. It’s the right price point. All those things are going the way we want it.”
The interest from guests in the United States has been strong, LePage added. “Some of this is just timing, but the U.S. market seems sort of primed right now for this type of opportunity,” he said. “The cruises were gone for a while so all those folks needed a place to go. This was the place to do it. It's outdoors, it’s near a beach—you put a hotel near a beach today and it's gold.
“I can't say that in 2019 we knew that this would be the perfect location for recovering from COVID but that's really helped.”
The Cancun and Playa del Carmen properties are just the first Playa properties that will join the Alltra brand. According to Geoff Ballotti, Wyndham’s president and CEO, Playa will have the exclusive on developing other Alltra properties or converting one of their independent hotels to the brand. LePage agreed: “Our first choice is always going to be [Playa].”
And while Ballotti said Alltra is not going to be the company’s fastest-growing brand, he does expect healthy growth.
“We'll definitely be in the Caribbean. I think even this year, we'll see opportunities there,” LePage said. “I’d love to see additional growth here [and] on the west coast of Mexico. Those are all-inclusive markets that are just ready-made for this. We want to make sure that the initial resorts that we choose stay consistent with this model, stay consistent with the guest experience and really define what Alltra means and ... get that really rock-solid foundation.”
After that foundation is built in Mexico and the Caribbean, LePage said the brand could expand to the U.S. and in Europe.
While Alltra is Wyndham’s first brand completely focused on the all-inclusive segment, its all-inclusive portfolio extends beyond Alltra.
“We launched a soft brand, Registry Collection Hotels [last June]—the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is all-inclusive and it’s in that brand—and then in our Trademark brand we have six or seven all-inclusive hotels. We’ll see more and more all-inclusives in our portfolio in the markets where it makes sense.”
Independent hotels have been a significant part of the all-inclusive market, and LePage said the soft brands are a good opportunity to allow those hotels to continue down that path: “They can leverage the investment they've made and the hotel name and those guests but tap into the distribution systems that we've got and our loyalty program and that's something that's pretty exciting.”
LePage said Wyndham is always open to new partnerships, as long as they complement the company’s strengths.
“We know what we do well. We're the biggest hotel franchise company because that's what we feel like we do well,” he said. “Over the last several years, I think you've seen us, as an organization, really focusing on what we can do well, and so that means if we're going to be in the franchising business, we need to make sure we have the right relationships with owners, we have the right relationships with guests, and more and more we need to have the right relationships with management companies. Finding those management companies that share the type of focus that we have is a key part.”
And while LePage said Wyndham will see a lot of that in the Latin American region, it will be a focus across the board as a global organization.
Latin America is expected to continue as a strong market for Wyndham.
“The recovery for Latin America started a little bit later than some of our other global markets and that was challenging … but in the second half of last year, we saw the recovery for the region really start to take hold,” he said. “It's doing really well right now. What I loved about 2021 is Latin America was one of the top-growing regions in terms of number of new hotels we opened out of all of Wyndham. It's a great source of growth. It's a nice steady recovery right now, which makes me feel good, and I do think we're going to continue to see that.”
In terms of guests, LePage expects more action from Asia and Canada as both begin to reopen. He also expects “bleisure” travel to continue, with guests working part of the day and vacationing the other part.