Increasing Southern Exposure: One on One With Eduardo Rodriguez Suarez
Photo courtesy of Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide reached a franchise license agreement with Free Way Group in June to build Hampton by Hilton Bariloche, a 105-room, five-story hotel in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.
Scheduled to open in 2018, the property will be located amidst the stunning natural scenery of the Andes Mountain foothills. The region is known for world-class skiing and numerous opportunities for outdoor adventures on the rugged plains of the Patagonia Steppe and the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake.
The new hotel will be Hilton’s fourth property in Argentina. The company is also building two additional new hotels in Argentina (scheduled to open in late 2017 and 2018) plus additional properties in Chile and Colombia.
We spoke recently with Eduardo Rodriguez Suarez, managing director development, Brazil and the Southern Cone Region, Hilton Worldwide, to discuss the company’s growing presence in Latin America.
TravelPulse: Why are Central and South America popular with hospitality developers and hoteliers?
Eduardo Rodriguez Suarez: Latin America is a dynamic region that continues to afford great opportunities for the travel industry, thanks to stable and growing economies, increase in foreign investments, improvements in infrastructure and actions to promote tourism in many countries.
Latin America continues to benefit from its ongoing economic transformation and there is opportunity for hotel growth in many markets throughout the region. Additionally, in many Latin America countries, the international hotel chain penetration is quite low when compared to more developed regions as North America and Europe.
This creates a great opportunity for everyone involved in our industry, not only when considering new build projects, but also when looking at conversions including independent or regional hotels that are operating, but could benefit from a global brand and its systems to fully maximize their market potential.
TP: Are U.S. leisure travelers visiting Argentina in numbers that make hotels like Hampton by Hilton viable?
ES: The U.S. is one of the top 10 source markets for inbound tourism to Argentina and has shown consistent growth the last few years with continued growth expected. And, Bariloche is one of the most important tourist destinations to visit in the country, both for international and domestic travelers.
A recent study sponsored by Hilton Worldwide and conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle, showed that net growth in Argentina’s quality lodging supply, supported by economic growth over the next decade, is estimated to increase at an annual average of 4.5 percent. We are negotiating with investors interested in many of our brands…both in new build hotels and conversions from existing properties.
TP: What facilities, amenities and services are most important in serving leisure travelers visiting Argentina and South America?
ES: Global travelers seek consistency in quality standards and service delivery, more and more, as well as access to technology, staying connected, comfort and an experience filled vacation, among others.
We also see guests looking for a sense of place that honors the area in which the hotel is located, where a hotel strikes the right balance between our brand pillars and the local culture by incorporating local artwork, design elements, etc.
TP: What’s Hampton by Hilton’s potential for success in a city like Bariloche?
ES: Hampton by Hilton’s success will be largely driven by providing travelers a branded, high quality hotel that’s accessible to the value-conscious traveler, combined with the brand standards that will differentiate the product in the market, as well as the amenities and excellent service delivery the brand is known for.
TP: How will Hampton by Hilton work with the local tourism authority (or tourist board) to jointly promote the new hotel, the city of Bariloche and possibly other neighboring towns?
ES: As with any new hotel, we hire talented teams to help drive the hotel’s opening and ongoing success. As part of our commercial actions, our teams connect with local tourism partners to identify opportunities for combined efforts, as well as to plant the seed for an ongoing mutually beneficial relationship.
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