Columbia’s tourism drive generates US$1.5 billion of high end hotel development

Pictured: Mama Shelter Medellin.
The Colombian government is approving record levels of investment in tourism, which is proving a boon for high end hotel projects in the northern South American country.

The nation’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism is enacting a Tourism Sector Plan 2022-2026, which is already consolidating the sustainable, responsible and regenerative development of tourism in the country in the scheme’s first year.

Historic highs

In 2023, the highest budget in the history of the national tourism fund, Fontur, was approved for annual investment, a total close to half a billion pesos (US$122.7 billion). Between August 2022 and June 2023, 153 tourism investment projects were approved for a value of Col$320,197 million (US$78.5 billion), of which Col$279,004 million (US$68.4 million) were co-financed by Fontur.

These achievements are reflected in the sector’s recovery after the pandemic. International tourism to Colombia is booming: non-resident visitors exceeded the previous record figure of 2019 by 2.9%. 2022 closed with 4.6 million international visitors. And between January and June 2023, the 2019 results were exceeded by 22.1%, with the arrival of 2.7 million visitors, compared to 2.2 million between January and June 2019.

Hotel opportunities

These positive fundamentals are helping to bolster the nation’s high end hotel pipeline, with at least US$1.5 billion currently on the books, according to THP data.

This equates to a minimum of 34 sites under development, encompassing 5,579 keys. The premium project hotspot looks to be the Caribbean port city of Cartagena, with five records in our database, while southwestern metropolis Cali and the country’s second largest city, Medellin, share the runner-up spot on four hotels each.

Greenfield and upscale

Newbuilds are dominating the high end pipeline, with 31 out of 34 projects, as against just two refurbishments and one conversion.

Four star sites are proving to be a preference too, as 23 recorded developments are in this category, representing 68% of the relevant records, while the remaining 11 sites (32%) fit into the five star classification.

2025 peak

Openings reach their apex in 2025 with 11 completions due – well inside the 2026 end date for the country’s tourism drive. Prior to this, seven sites will deliver in 2024, and another four are expected by the end of this year. The remaining 12 are either slated for further in the future or have not yet been designated a delivery date.

These schedules are reflected in the current project phases, with 15 at the vision stage, eight under construction, seven in planning, three in pre-planning and one in pre-opening.

Brand plans

In terms of brand groups, Minor Hotels leads the way on high end hotel development in Columbia, with at least six planned; Hyatt Hotel Corporation is second on four; while Hilton Worldwide and Accor share third place with three apiece.

For individual brands, Minor group brand NH Hotels is at the top with five sites on the way, while Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Garden Inn are jointly in runners-up spot on two projects each.

Projects to watch

Notable developments underway include Mama Shelter Medellín, from Accor’s Ennismore division. The lifestyle brand is making its Colombian debut with this site, due to open in 2026.

The 150-room hotel will be located in the heart of the El Poblado neighbourhood within a mixed-use development. It will host an energetic restaurant and bar space, more than 3,000 sq m of coworking space, 500 sq m of meeting rooms and a restaurant and swimming pool on the first-floor rooftop terrace.

At the super luxury end of things, Convento Obra Pia Resort & Spa will become Colombia’s first international ‘six-star’ property. In an UNESCO World Heritage site within the exclusive Old City in Cartagena, a restored 17th-century convent will house 102 guestrooms and public spaces including: a 275 sq m courtyard pool, state-of-the-art fitness centre and spa with lounge café, second-floor signature restaurant and nightclub, panoramic rooftop pool and bar and over 1,250 sq m of cross-functional event space.