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US$180m haul for Playa Jamaica hotels

Hyatt, Hilton and Jewel-branded properties in Jamaica earned revenue of US$180.3 million ($27.8 billion) in 2022, a gain of 85 per cent.

Playa Resorts & Hotels, which operates the brands, disclosed that the revenue growth in Jamaica led the group, followed by Dominica Republic, then Mexico. It’s the second year of growth for the local operations, which grew 40 per cent in 2021. In 2020, hotels suffered a near shutdown when the pandemic started and borders were closed.

In Jamaica, Playa owns and manages five properties: Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and the conjoined Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, and Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa.

The local hotels account for 1,428 of the 7,124 rooms spread across the group. In Jamaica, the occupancy level climbed to 74 per cent in 2022, up from 48 per cent in 2021, consequent to the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions during the second quarter of 2022, increased travel demand globally, and a rebound in MICE guests who travel for meetings, incentives, conventions and events.

“The pace of the recovery in Jamaica has been stellar, and we hope to carry the momentum going forward, particularly as the MICE segment there continues to recover. Aided by a higher mix of groups, I am optimistic that the recovery in Jamaica has a healthy runway,” said Playa Chairman and CEO Bruce Wardinski on an earnings call.

The Jamaican hotels generated US$56 million in operating profit, a 280 per cent jump year-on-year. It was also 24 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

The pre-pandemic comparison excludes Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa and Jewel Runaway Bay Beach Resort & Waterpark which were sold by Playa in 2020.

The recovery in Jamaica was slower than other territories in the group due to stricter health testing for travellers, seen as a disincentive by the Playa executives.

“As a reminder, Jamaica removed COVID-related travel restrictions requirements during the second quarter of 2022, and we anticipated that Jamaica would see demand accelerate as this was our best performing segment prior to the pandemic, and we didn’t believe there were any structural issues that would prohibit demand from recovery,” said Wardinski.

Overall, Playa group revenues climbed 64 per cent to US$652 million – split 43 per cent Yucatan Peninsula; 27 per cent Jamaica; 20 per cent the Pacific Coast; and 10 per cent Dominica Republic.

Forward bookings are currently strong despite recessionary concerns in major economies, the company added.

“Despite persistent fears of a potential slowdown in leisure travel, our business performed well during the fourth quarter, and our net bookings for the Playa-owned and managed properties have reached new weekly highs so far in 2023,” said Wardinski.

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