AccorHotels is looking to grow across Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America with a focus on luxury properties, but company officials also say there could be further acquisitions down the road that bolster regional growth.
MIAMI—AccorHotels officials plan to grow the French company’s portfolio in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in the coming years with a focus on luxury properties after years of establishing a strong presence in economy and midscale hotels in the region.
Alexis Ralph, VP of development for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean at AccorHotels, said there are a number of opportunities across Accor’s various luxury brands—including Sofitel, Fairmont and luxury home-sharing platform Onefinestay.
“The idea is Accor wants to grow stronger every day in the luxury segment,” he said. “Mexico and Central America have high potential (for growth in luxury) with things like luxury-branded resorts.”
He said the combination of Onefinestay’s home-sharing options and branded residential properties with traditional hotel offerings will help achieve the company’s goal of offering “augmented hospitality.”
Ralph noted AccorHotels' strategic partnership with Banyan Tree Holdings, announced in late 2016, is a driver for luxury growth in the region.
Banyan Tree has “a very solid luxury portfolio with great possibilities,” he said.
The Sofitel brand is on track for a few key openings in coming years, with a new Mexico City property slated to open in the second quarter of 2019 and a property in Havana, Cuba, planned for early 2020.
While U.S. companies have largely been kept out of that country, AccorHotels has been active in Cuba for more than 20 years and is well positioned to benefit if and when travel restrictions are lifted between the U.S. and Cuba, Ralph said.
“We’re expecting it to become a huge feeder market,” he said, noting the Cuban government is making some much-needed infrastructure investments to pave the way for more inbound travel.
Ralph said there are still several regions he would like to see AccorHotels grow in, noting he’d love to see a Fairmont in Mexico City. Other opportunities he identified included establishing a greater presence in Costa Rica and adding more lifestyle product in Mexico and Central America as a whole.
Ralph also said there’s an opportunity for the company to grow in the all-inclusive resort space, and he believes AccorHotels has brands that “make sense” in that context, including Swissotel. But he noted growth in the upscale segment is more difficult because most U.S.-based companies in the region are focused on midscale and upscale properties.
Growth fueled by acquisitions
AccorHotels solidified its partnership with Banyan Tree by buying a stake in its Singapore-based luxury brand Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, and two of its luxury brands—Fairmont and Onefinestay—were added to its portfolio through acquisitions.
Ralph said that’s not a coincidence, as the continued sale of AccorHotels' owned hotels has provided the company with capital to make strategic investments across the globe.
“The company has been very successful adding new brands to the platform with the aim of developing and expanding more quickly,” he said.
One recently announced buy that will impact that company’s Latin American portfolio is the planned purchase of Chilean brand and management company Atton Hoteles.
He said those sort of acquisitions are likely to continue for the company globally, including in regions he oversees.
“We’re looking for deals everywhere,” he said. “The idea is to identify a local group with a proven product, which is very important.”
He noted this approach was also in play in other deals around the globe, including the recently announced or closed buys for Swiss Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Australian Mantra Group, and South Africa-based Mantis Group.