Tue | Sep 27, 2022

Playa hotels in Jamaica have strong bookings into Christmas

Published:Friday | August 12, 2022 | 9:42 AM

Forward bookings are strong for the Hyatt, Hilton and Jewel resorts operated in Jamaica by Playa Resorts, which reported the doubling of local revenue to US$94 million over six months.

“Future booking into Jamaica are stronger than our other segments due to removal of testing requirements. This is all too encouraging, because we believed that nothing has structurally changed in Jamaica, which was our best performing segment before the pandemic,” said Playa CEO Bruce Wardinski, following the release of the company’s financial results.

Playa said that its strong bookings to the end of the year signals that consumers are not avoiding vacations, despite an inflationary global economy.

“We are not seeing cancellation issues going forward, but, rather, an upgrade for bookings into the third quarter and fourth quarter into Montego Bay,” said Wardinski.

Playa operates and manages properties in four geographic segments: Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, and the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

“Jamaica led our portfolio in occupancy during the second quarter, and currently has more occupancy on the books for the third quarter than our other segments,” he said.

The resort group’s optimism also rests on expectations of additional airlifts into the main tourism centre of Montego By.

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

The six months of revenue generated so far this year is better than the past two years, but still lags the pre-pandemic outturn of US$118.3 million in 2019; that’s because the operations are now smaller than before the pandemic. Playa sold two properties in Jamaica to gain cash in 2020.

Core earnings, or EBITDA, from Jamaica totalled US$29.3 million at half-year, up from US$1.3 million in the comparative 2021 period.

“The disruption from the Omicron variant had a particularly acute impact on Jamaica earlier this year. But our bookings for future periods, combined with the removal of Jamaica’s COVID-19 testing entry requirements, gave us a sense of optimism for the rest of the year,” said Wardinski on an earnings call on August 4.

Playa’s hotels in its other markets also performed well. In Dominican Republic, the operations generated US$134.6 million, compared to US$54.8 million a year earlier, while core earnings rose to US$49.1 million from US$9.6 million. Yucatan Peninsula generated US$142.4 million in revenue, compared to US$81.2 million, while its core earnings totalled US$55.4 million, up from US$20.2 million; and the Pacific Coast generated US$64 million in revenue, up from US$30 million, while core earnings climbed to US$26.5 million from US$7.6 million.

“Jamaica was our best performing segment prior to the pandemic, and we continue to believe there is room for average daily rate, or ADR, improvement as the recovery catches up with Mexico and the Dominican Republic,” Wardinski said.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com