A resort company grows
By Guy Britton
MONTEGO BAY — It’s been around for 30 years, but Palace Resorts did something momentous earlier this year: it opened its first Caribbean hotel outside of Mexico. Now, the company continues to expand as it works through a rapidly evolving industry. So what’s on the agenda for the company in the region? To learn more, we talked to Kathy Halpern, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Palace Resorts, on the sidelines of the JAPEX conference in Montego Bay this week.
How do you view the Caribbean hotel sector right now compared to a few years ago?
In recent years, the Caribbean sector has become more competitive and increased in popularity as hotel brands continue to expand their presence in the region. The Caribbean’s climate, increased connectivity and consumer demand provide hoteliers such as Palace Resorts with a variety of opportunities to expand as we did with our first property outside of Mexico, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande.
What new initiatives or marketing programs do you have coming up?
2015 is turning out to be the most exciting chapter in our company’s 30 year history. Palace Resorts is continuously redefining the notion of what an all-inclusive can and should offer guests. No one else in the all-inclusive segment is offering the level of entertainment that Palace Resorts provides. Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, the brand’s signature property and Cancun’s entertainment destination has hosted star-studded concerts from a variety of artists ranging from Usher to The Beach Boys. This November, Grammy-award winning group, Toto, will be performing two incredible shows at the resort. December 22, 2015 through January 2, 2016 will see the exclusive limited engagement residency of Broadway’s smash hit, “The Illusionists.” The ten fast-paced and wildly entertaining shows will feature seven of the world’s greatest magicians.
The remainder of the year will also be focused on the recently unveiled, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. As we are entering a completely new market, we are focusing our resources on ensuring that our newest property successfully becomes Jamaica’s leading resort destination and acts as a catalyst for the island’s economic growth.
What new things is Palace doing to enhance the guest experience?
Palace Resorts continually seeks opportunities to improve our already stellar services. By enhancing our offerings, we are catering to various audiences and expanding our reach. We are a company that continually reinvents itself.
As an ever-evolving brand, Palace Resorts recently incorporated Apple TV devices and Smart Televisions in various guestrooms and suites throughout our oceanfront properties. Apple TV devices are currently available in the Concierge, Ambassador and Presidential accommodations of all Palace Resorts properties throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Select accommodations within Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, Beach Palace, Playacar Palace and Le Blanc Spa Resort are equipped with new Smart TV technology. Palace Resorts guests now have the ability to log-on to personal accounts such as Netflix and Hulu accessible via iTunes. In addition to featuring the latest music, films, sports and television programming on in-room LCD flat screen TVs, the new amenities provide the ability to enjoy applications such as YouTube and The Weather Channel. By embracing technology and offering guests the latest modern amenities, the brand combines convenience and luxury as part of the guest-centric experience.
Tell us — what do you honestly think of Trip Advisor reviews?
Palace Resorts is a company that believes the brand’s success is deeply rooted in innovation. Although traditional avenues can never be ignored, we seek fresh approaches to grow our business; therefore, we have always paid attention to innovative tools such as TripAdvisor. In recent years, TripAdvisor’s reviews have become increasingly prevalent in the industry and the brand has utilized the platform as an integral component of our marketing and operational strategies. The fact that the majority of our oceanfront properties throughout Mexico and the Caribbean are consistently ranked among the top five resorts in their respective markets is a testament to how much we have embraced TripAdvisor.
We want to ensure the best guest experience possible from booking to departure. By taking advantage of every communication channel available, we have the unique ability to anticipate guest needs and ultimately guarantee an unforgettable experience with Palace Resorts.
TripAdvisor has most certainly boosted our business efforts. Our high-ranking properties garner additional visibility online and further supported our commitment to provide an unmatched, value-driven product which keeps guests coming back year after year. Furthermore, we have even received feedback from guests that have mentioned that their booking decision was influenced by our engagement online.
Tell about the transformation of the property that is now Moon Palace Jamaica?
The opening of Moon Palace Jamaica Grande marked the next chapter in Palace Resorts’ 30-year history. Our first property outside of Mexico offers a winning combination of the high Palace Resorts quality and service standards we’re known for coupled with Jamaica’s distinct allure. Moon Palace Jamaica Grande is an elegant oasis that combines Jamaican flair with a Palace touch.
Following a multi-million dollar transformation of what was formerly the iconic Sunset Jamaica Grande, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande now boasts more than 700 guestrooms and suites with oceanfront views of the Caribbean Sea. Moon Palace Jamaica Grande features 17-acres of ivory sand on the longest stretch of private beach in Ocho Rios. Featuring aesthetics by cutting-edge designer Francois Frossard, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande includes five lavish swimming pools, multiple restaurants, a gourmet corridor, signature Awe-Spa with dedicated wellness center and 25,000 square feet of multifunctional meeting and event space. The property also features amenities synonymous with the brand such as a FlowRider® Double wave simulator, Wired Teens Lounge, ultra-chic Noir nightclub, expansive kids club dubbed “The Playroom” and much more.
What other new projects are on the horizon?
As we look to the future, we are eager to continue the momentum and development of the Palace Resorts brand. We are currently focusing on the success of our newest property, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. While we look forward to further expansion throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and beyond, Palace Resorts is committed to continually enhancing our core portfolio via renovations, new offerings and impactful events and attractions.
What does technology mean for the future of travel and tourism?
Technology has redefined the way the world communicates and connects. Palace Resorts encourages our esteemed advocates to utilize celebrated mediums including social media channels as an avenue for the exchange of ideas and opinions. Social media is important to us, as it allows us the opportunity to receive guest feedback so that we continuously shape and enhance the guest experience.
The rise of mobile technology has also paved the way for more connectivity with our guests. When visiting any of our eight oceanfront resorts, guests have the ability to manage their daily itineraries via our easy to navigate mobile application. Using the mobile application enables guests to navigate through each property, book spa appointment and easily find out about special offers, activities and amenities available to them. Among the many special offers Palace guests will find on the mobile application is the “Resort Credits” promotion, which can be used on spa and beauty salon treatments, golf outings, romantic dinners, and off-site excursions and tours.
We want to ensure our guest experience is the best from the moment they book — we don’t wait until they arrive at the resort to provide a unique vacation, we take advantage to every communication channel to anticipate our guest needs and ensure an unforgettable experience with Palace Resorts.