For a number of years now, one of the big weeks for the hotel industry in South Florida is the week of the Caribbean (CHRIS) and Latin American (HOLA) Hotel Investment Conferences. Those of us in Miami are happy to see it return to Miami Dade County this year and better yet, to see the conferences held in a brand-new hotel, the Loews Coral Gables, a symbol of the active South Florida hotel development pipeline.
With so many countries in the “CALA” Region, most executives with regional responsibilities for new hotel development or management and operations travel so much that the importance of Miami to the industry (and yes, our little sisters to the north known as Broward and Palm Beach Counties as well) is somewhat invisible until annual events such as these conferences bring us together. And if we take a moment to recognize the talent base that resides here, it is quite impressive.
We have the disruptors who lead some of the leading brands, operators and marketing companies in the all-inclusive hotel segment, whose innovations to the all-inclusive business model became so successful that Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and Wyndham have all taken strategic paths, some of which cost in the billions of dollars, to avoid being left out of this space.
Many of the region’s luxury resort destinations as well as several cities in South Florida became living laboratories for the for the evolution of the hotel product that entered the market as the “law-suit-prone” condo-hotel and slowly morphed into the star of hospitality real estate, the branded residence. The 2021 sales launch of the downtown Miami Waldorf Astoria Residences was so strong that monthly sales were measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars per month range. Several of the strongest influencers of branded residence growth and success, along with the hospitality attorneys who taught all of the parties how to write balanced agreements to minimize legal claims, are based here in Miami.
The vacation ownership industry (the hospitality product formerly known as “timeshare”) has many of its product development experts here as well, and some of the innovations that re-kindled interest in the product, such as moving to points-based, rather than week-based ownership and creation of exchange platforms to make the products more flexible, were developed here in Miami Dade County.
The Miami-based brokers from several of the leading global CRE firms, who have had to match institutional buyers with family office sellers, and who have helped clients throughout the CALA region transition from traditional “build and hold” family ownership models and benefit from REIT-like structures that have injected and recycled investment funds with the objective of increasing hotel density and transaction volume in markets where investment had been lagging.
And finally, the dozens and dozens of professionals who spend more time on American Airlines than do American’s pilots, representing their company’s brands, architectural designs, sustainability best practices, procurement strategies, wellness programming, and management contracts (to name a few disciplines). These men and women continually strive to proliferate the industry’s highest quality products and practices, and in recent years they have had much to celebrate as more and more resources are focused on hospitality and tourism investments in the Caribbean and Latin America.
See you at the Loews Coral Gables Hotel.