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2018 Caribbean Development Is Strong

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In 2017 the Caribbean hosted 47 million visitors with tourism experiencing a strong year despite the hurricane season, in part because 70% of the Caribbean was not in the path of any storms. This and other Caribbean development topics were key points shared by industry experts during the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS) held in Miami in May.

A key component of the gathering was to discuss the need and how hoteliers throughout the region can not only differentiate their properties but their islands as well, helping to educate visitors of the geographic diversity of the Caribbean region. At the 2018 CHRIS conference, a record-breaking attendance of nearly 600 Caribbean developers and consultants gathered to assess the state of the industry and to look to future trends for the Caribbean region, with many new names and players looking to enter the market.

Key Takeaways

  • The current hospitality development environment in the Caribbean is robust. 2017’s hurricane season made a deep impact on businesses specifically on properties directly impacted by the storms but also brings many new opportunities as evidenced by the many new names in attendance of the event.

  • Some experts believe this prolonged up cycle is not actually a continuation of the cycle’s former highs but rather the beginning of a new cycle that began without the anticipated dip in development. A new cycle with an upswing will bode well that the Caribbean development and regional growth will sustain for several years.

  • The impact of the 2017’s hurricane season places further demand on insurance for properties but is not limiting investment. Financing is available with both banks and non-banks and now is the time to invest. Sentiment for the region is good.

  • Experts across the sector including brands, operators, consultants, and designers continue to struggle to define what luxury is but agree that travel is all about the experience placing ever-increasing pressure for hotels to create the opportunities for experiences.

  • Hospitality design was not a significant component of this year’s conference which more heavily focused on experiential travel. A property's design was discussed in how it can set the stage for this travel experience to help hotels differentiate their offerings to today’s experience-driven travelers.

  • Multiple brands are getting deep into the region with several luxury brands breaking ground including the OBMI designed Half Moon Bay, slated to be a Rosewood, St. Regis Bermuda, and Waldorf Astoria’s upcoming project at Callaloo Cay Antigua. Experts agree the brand expansion provides additional credibility to the region as a luxury destination.