Mexican hotel chain expands to Jamaican shores

By Nekiesha Reid Business reporter

Sunday, October 07, 2012    

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Former Sandals resort Beaches Sandy Bay will now be run by Mexican outfit Karisma Hotels & Resorts.

The Negril property is Karisma's first expansion outside Mexico, although the brand enjoys worldwide recognition for its exclusive "gourmet-inclusive" service.

Karisma took a controlling interest in the resort last Tuesday, bringing to 12 the number of properties in its collection.

"Our expansion to Jamaica makes good business sense," said Mandy Chomat, vice president of sales and marketing at Premier Worldwide Marketing, which represents Karisma.

"Jamaica offers a strategic geographical location, exceptional infrastructure, a talented pool of human resources combined with an instantly recognisable worldwide brand," she said.

Guests will not be admitted on property until December, however, since Sandy Bay will undergo renovation in its rebranding as Seashore Bay Beach Resort, she said.

Although a multi-million US dollar plan has been made for the overhaul, an exact budget has not been determined as the company is still determining what needs to be done to bring the property to Karisma's gourmet-inclusive standards, Chomat said.

The hotel will continue to be all-inclusive, Chomat said, but will incorporate Karisma's exclusive gourmet experience that includes high-end gourmet cuisine, an interactive culinary theatre and world-renowned chefs.

Previously branded as a family vacation and beach resort, the newly renovated Seashore Bay will cater to singles, couples and families, who get to enjoy ocean and garden views, specialty restaurants and a kid's club.

Seashore Bay will be operated under the Azul Hotel brand, which, in addition to a My Gym Children's Fitness Centre, will offer romantic escapes and 24-hour room service.

Earlier this year, Sandals Resorts International - which owns the Beaches brand - announced its intention to terminate its lease arrangements to operate the Sandy Bay property.

The property had been leased from Poinciana Resorts Limited for 15 years.

The decision to terminate meant that Sandals would not operate the property after September 30, but director of operations Wayne Cummings said as many of the resort's 220 employees as possible would be transferred to other properties.

Those who could not be accommodated would be compensated, he said.

Poinciana said: "We feel that the philosophy of the management and staff at Karisma, as well as their innovative approach to hospitality, will be positive for Negril and Jamaica as a whole."

Karisma operates 11 all-inclusives, comprised of the adults-only El Dorado Spa Resorts, the Azul hotels and villas and the El Dorado Generations.

The company's expansion to Jamaica is its exclusive focus at this time, it said.

"We look forward to a long and successful relationship with Jamaica."



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