Sonesta steams ahead with Latin American growth strategy

by | 16 Sep 2022 | Appointments, Chains, People

Pictured: The recently-opened Sonesta Hotel Cali in Colombia.

Sonesta International Hotels Corporation has made several key moves to support future expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The US-headquartered group has renewed its ongoing master franchise relationship with GHL Hoteles and hired three regional lodging development experts.

Seven brand debut

These steps are expected to provide Sonesta with the infrastructure to expand beyond its Sonesta Hotels & Resorts and Sonesta Posadas del Inca brands and introduce seven new brands — Sonesta Select, Sonesta ES Suites, Sonesta Simply Suites, The Royal Sonesta, The James, Red Lion Hotel/Red Lion Inn & Suites and Signature Inn — to the markets.

Sonesta first established a presence in the Latin American region in 1998 when it flagged the Sonesta Hotel El Olivar in Lima, Peru. The company, through its master licensee, has since added Sonesta Hotels in Colombia, Ecuador, and Chile as well as introduced Sonesta Posadas del Inca in Peru to leisure-focused destinations like Lake Titicaca, the Sacred Valley, and Cusco.

Latest addition

Through its master franchise agreement with GHL Hoteles, based in Colombia, Sonesta has added hotels via ground-up development and conversions. As recently as April 2022, Sonesta, through its master franchisee GHL Hoteles, introduced Sonesta Hotel Cali, a 180+ room hotel, marking the 14th property in Latin America and the eighth property in Colombia.

In the Caribbean, Sonesta has two resorts in Sint Maarten – family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort (2004) and adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort (2014), and the Royal Sonesta San Juan in Puerto Rico (2020).

Appointment trio

Sonesta is further bolstering its regional commitment with the addition of three lodging development veterans. The first of these is Marco Roca, who is now the group’s development lead – South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. He is a senior executive leader with over 30 years of global experience in real estate, hospitality, casinos and restaurants.

Roca has been responsible for the ground-up development of three major brands in the midscale, upscale and upper upscale segments and has served in executive leadership and property operations roles with leading lodging real estate and gaming companies. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in closing more than 1,500 transactions which equate to approximately $50 billion in development expansion.

The second appointment is Adrian Francois, heading up franchise development in Latin America: Based in Brazil, Francois will be responsible for the development of Sonesta Hotels in Latin America. Prior to this, he held senior development roles in Latin America with multiple lodging companies. Previously, Francois was the executive global senior vice president of sales and development for CMNet.

Completing the new trio, Jayson Clemons has become RVP of franchise development for Mexico and the Caribbean: Clemons joins Sonesta after a long career in hospitality in operations, management, sales and marketing and development. Most recently, he worked as an independent hospitality consultant on several projects for various clients in Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Key market expansion

The group’s chief development officer Brian Quinn said: “The demand we are seeing in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America encourages us to expand Sonesta’s footprint across these key markets.

“We look to build upon our long-standing presence in Latin America by renewing our significant relationship with GHL Hoteles and by hiring regional lodging development leaders to expand the Sonesta and Red Lion brands. We are excited to pursue our first opportunities in Mexico, where there is strong interest in both city and resort destinations, and to further increase our presence in the Caribbean beyond Sint Maarten and Puerto Rico.”

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