Playa Plunges Ahead: Now With 20 Hotels & First New-Build Set To Open

with Bruce Parkinson

The ACV team at the Playa event: (l to r) Aaron Crawford, Area Sales Manager, South Western Ontario; Erminia Nigro, GM Sales, Ontario & National Accounts; Juan Contreras-Aragon, Area Sales Manager.

TPI Director of Partnerships Colton Chia with Penny Martin, VP Travel Agent Experience for The Travel Agent Next Door.

Playa’s Canadian team: (l to r) Freddie Marsh, BDM, Western Canada; Amanda Morris, Eastern Canada BDM; Rose Cosentino, VP Sales, Canada; Christian Roussin, BDM for Quebec.

(l to r) Lorraine Brisbois, Corporate Manager, Preferred Partners at Sunwing Travel Group; Dawn Rzepka, Senior Director, Destination Weddings & Events, Sunwing Travel Group; Alexandra Campbell, Director of Wedding Service, LUXE Destination Weddings; Brenda Mlynarczyk, Operations Director, LUXE Destination Weddings.

Open Jaw Editor-in-Chief Bruce Parkinson meets his namesake – Bruce Parkinson, International Travel Consultant, Flight Centre Upper Canada. So that’s why Bruce often picks up nametags with Flight Centre on them!

Top-selling agents, tour operator representatives and travel media gathered in Toronto this week to hear the latest news from fast-growing Playa Hotels & Resorts.

VP Sales Canada Rose Cosentino told the assembled group that less than five years ago the company had just seven hotels in its portfolio. That number is 20 now, and there’s no sign of a slowdown.

Playa runs hotels with a variety of brands, including Hyatt Ziva & Zilara, Hilton All-Inclusive Resorts, Panama Jack Resorts and Jewel Resorts. Cosentino told Open Jaw that the common thread between all of them is the quality of service.

“Service means many things. But ultimately it’s about how we bring people into the fold, how we make people feel. ‘Service from the heart’ is at the essence of what we do at every property.”

The Playa event in Toronto was part of the company’s first-ever Canadian roadshow, with additional stops in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

The big news at the hotel group is the imminent opening of its first-ever new-build property, a dual Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara resort in the Dominican Republic’s upscale Cap Cana. Each of the adult and family sections will have 375 suites, starting at a generous 600 sq. ft. in size.

“It marks our most ambitious project yet. We purchased the land and built from the ground up. Because of that, we were able to integrate all the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ things you can’t always do in a conversion. I think this property will be one of the best of the best,” Cosentino said.

Each of the adult-only Zilara and family-friendly Ziva Cap Cana sides will feature six restaurants, and even the renderings looked delicious, including an Italian-themed restaurant called The Noodle & Threat and the Journeys Indian Restaurant, which features an authentic rail car where guests can dine in Orient Express-style splendour.

Playa already has a presence in Cap Cana with the Sanctuary All-Inclusive Adult Resort Cap Cana, which Playa Eastern Canada BDM Amanda Morris described as “the most beautiful resort I’ve ever been to.”

The resort group’s Dominican Republic portfolio also includes the Hilton La Romana – formerly Dreams La Romana, which has now been split in two, with adults-only and family sections. The family-side renovations are nearly complete and the entire resort will be ready to welcome your clients as of December.

While most of the focus of the event was on Playa’s growing D.R. presence, Cosentino made special mention of the transformation of The Royal Playa Del Carmen into the Hilton Playa Del Carmen. Open Jaw experienced this property as The Royal, and it’s a beauty, with a ‘position A’ location steps from Playacar’s popular 5th Avenue shopping and dining district.

“Canadians love this hotel,” Cosentino said. “And it is now better than ever after a thorough renovation.”

That’s another Playa point of difference, said Cosentino, who was joined at the event by her Canadian team of BDMs, including Freddie Marsh from Western Canada, the aforementioned Morris and new addition Christian Roussin, who is representing Playa in the Quebec market.

“We don’t just change a flag,” when converting a property to one of Playa’s brands, she said. “When we come in, we come in big.”

Playa wants to reward agents for their bookings, so Cosentino urged travel advisors to sign up for its AgentCash+ program and register their bookings. The points they earn can be used for room nights at 20 different Playa properties or converted to cash on a reloadable Visa card. Plus, when participating agents register their bookings, their clients receive an in-room gift with the agent’s name on it.

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