An Explosion of New Hotels in Latin America

Chile hotel

Tierra Patagonia in Southern Chile

While much of the world has been bogged down in recession the past few years, Latin America has kept growing and expanding across most of the region. So while new hotel openings have slowed in many regions, the booming countries of Central and South America are adding so many properties it’s hard to keep up. The CEO of Four Seasons told the Wall Street Journal it’s one of their key expansion areas, saying ” [We’re looking at] Brazil, Chile, Peru, as well as some select opportunities in Central America and continued growth in Mexico, where we have two hotels.”

I’ve been attending the trade show TravelMart Latin America this week for our sister site Luxury Latin America, checking out what’s new and unique in tours and hotels. Here’s a taste of what’s on the way.

Beachfront Radisson on the way in Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia is the brightest spot in a bright country. There’s already a great array of boutique hotels in the historic center and chain hotels on the beaches, but more international brands are coming. The next few years will see openings from Hyatt, Radisson, Sheraton, Marriott and Intercontinental.

Both the Marriott company and Intercontinental have been going gangbusters in Colombia, following the opening of the JW Marriott in Bogota and an upcoming opening in Cali. Intercontinental Hotel Group recently announced plans to add three new Holiday Inn Express hotels.W Bogota is under construction now and Aloft Bogota Airport is already open.

Peru has a booming tourism business of course, yet getting a room in Cusco in high season can be trying. JW Marriott opened a new hotel recently, Orient-Express expanded with a brand new Nazarenes hotel next to Monasterio, and new ones are coming from Casa Andina, the Mountain Lodges of Peru owners, and others. Casa Andina is adding another Sacred Valley hotel, Andean Cottages. Sonesta is adding a second hotel in Arequipa and Aranwa is adding one in Colca Canyon.

Panama City

Rendering of the Waldorf-Astoria Panama Lobby

Panama has been another economic bright spot and the recent Trump Towers Panama and Westin Playa Bonita are about to have a new Waldorf-Astoria to contend with in Panama City. A new Hilton and Westin will be joining it and a whole slew of new 3-star and 4-star properties are on the way, including Aloft. A Sheraton is coming to here and Bijao Beach Resort in Santa Clara.

Chile is seeing a lot of expansion in high-end boutique hotels in interesting locations, especially in Patagonia. Singular Patagonia was a recent opening getting lots of raves, followed by Tierra Patagonia pictured at the top of this post. Radisson and Courtyard by Marriott are two brands that have announced openings in Santiago.

In Mexico, the pace of new openings is not as frenetic as it was five years ago, but visitors keep pouring in and business is good, so new hotels keep going up. The Westin brand of Starwood opened in Guadalajara and the Sante Fe suburb of Mexico City, while a new W hotel is planned for Riviera Maya. The local Habita Group just opened Downtown Mexico in the historic center of the capital and a new outpost in the wine country of northern Baja.

There’s more going on across the region, including Argentina and Uruguay (watch for a new Sofitel coming to Montevideo at the end of this year. But there’s not as much news as there should be in one spot: Brazil. The country getting ready to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 should have more hotels under construction than we can count. Unfortunately, the two big cities are woefully short on rooms already and there’s not nearly enough in the works to soak up all those new visitors. It’s looking like a lot of travelers are going to be sleeping on docked cruise ships. It could get ugly.

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