Investment opps among takeaways from 2018 CHICOS

From left to right: Fernando Mulet, SVP/Playa Hotels & Resorts; David Larone, senior managing director/CBRE Hotels Valuation & Advisory Services Group; Alejandro Acevedo, VP/development, Marriott International; Marco Roca, president, global development/CDO at Caesars Entertainment; Parris Jordan, chairman/CHICOS; Phil Keb, EVP/development, Gencom; Ken Greene, president, Americas/Radisson Hotel Group. Photo credit: CHICOS

The 2018 edition of the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference & Operations Summit (CHICOS) brought lenders and developers alike to the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda for several days of industry insights and networking.  
"In 2017, our region was struck with two catastrophic weather events just after the fears of Zika were subsiding," said CHICOS Chairman Parris Jordan. "In some markets, after severe storms, hotel values tend to decline, creating opportunities for buyers to make more affordable purchases; however, this was not the case for the Caribbean lodging market in 2018. Interestingly, we are seeing even greater interest among lenders to finance projects, more so than in the past 10 years. This was evidenced in our equity and debt-financing panels."

Jordan said the islands of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, St. Barts and even Puerto Rico demonstrated a relatively fast recovery and have most of their hotel and villa-rental inventory available for this upcoming peak season. The islands of Dominica, St. Martin/Maarten, and the U.S. Virgin Islands continue their recovery efforts, albeit at a slower pace; limited inventory is still available on these islands as they continue to rebuild, it was noted. 

Despite the challenges stemming primarily from the Zika virus that affected the region in 2015/16, as well as the 2017 hurricane season, the Caribbean market continues to be resilient, as demonstrated by the strong hotel operating performance, occupancy, ADR and RevPAR levels over the past few years, conference data suggested.

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Main Takeaways

  1. There is a noticeable uptick of interest in development of the all-inclusive model in the region, particularly in the Dominican Republic.
  2. More capital is available for investor lending in the Caribbean region at this point in the development cycle.
  3. Total revenue increased eight of the nine months reviewed during 2018, compared to the same period in 2017; occupancy increased slightly; ADR grew more than 5 percent for the last five months (May through September 2018); and RevPAR increased 3.8 percent over the same period last year.
  4. Aruba, Curacao, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico are among the strongest performing islands in terms of year-to-date RevPAR growth, with the Cayman Islands leading the charge, up more than 27 percent from the same period last year.

CHICOS 2019 is scheduled for November 14–15, 2019, at the Secrets Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica.