The Hilton Caribbean
are on a roll. Folowing 3 successful years, they are about to launch two brand new properties. Exhibiting today at ITB Berlin, Breaking Travel News caught up with Tilo Joos, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, The Caribbean, Hilton, to find out the latest Hilton Caribbean developments.BTN: How many Hilton properties are there in the Caribbean?
TJ: We have portfolio of 14 hotels which are operating and 2 which are due to open
BTN: What is your objective for the Hiton Caribbean?
TJ: We want to keep growing at the rapid rate which we have been growing. We are about to become the largest chain in the Caribbean. We want to keep offering a highly personalised service to differentiate us from competition. Value creation is very also important for us. We want to produce value for everyone - for the customer for the employee and for all the stakeholders of the company.
BTN: Can you explain the difference between the Hilton and the Coral by Hilton?
TJ: The classic Hilton is the regular EP hotel.
The Coral by Hilton properties, are all-inclusive resorts. We launched in February last year and now have four properties. Coral Hilton mainly targets families and couples. We are Planning to expand the brand to the greater Caribbean - including the Islands, Central America and northern part of South America.
BTN: Which is the most popular Hilton Caribbean property and why?
TJ: The most popular hotel is The Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is popular for several reasons. It is Hilton International’s first hotel in the world outside the US.
Hilton operated that hotel for 50 years and then bought it from the Government, closed it for renovation and re-launched it. Puerto Rico is doing very well as a destination. There is a high demand and a very high rate level which is obviously a good combination. We will be expanding this already large hotel, it so by the end of next year it will be the largest hotel in Puerto Rico.
BTN: How is business in the Caribbean region?
TJ: There is a good performance in the Caribbean in general and the last three years have been good for us. This could be due to a number of reasons; the Caribbean has been well promoted recently. The situation that we have experienced after the war hasn’t really affected the Caribbean as a destination. We are all expecting that 2004 is going to be a great year in the Caribbean as well with a recovery and the general word travelling patterns.
BTN: How are plans coming along for the opening of Barbados Hilton?
TJ: We plan to open the hotel on Nov 30th. We have very high expectations for this property as the demand is already huge from both the UK and the US.
The original Hilton was knocked down in 1999 and a new building has been constructed.
The Hilton Barbados is one of the best locations next to Bridgetown and it has, in my opinion, one of the nicest beaches. White beach on each side of the hotel are key reasons why this hotel will be a success. All the rooms will have a sea view. We are going to have two restaurants with two bars, a meetings complex with a business centre with 10,000 foot of square meeting space plus a ball room of around 6,500 square feet. Wireless will be deployed in all public areas and high-speed internet access in all the guest rooms. There will also be a fitness centre over-looking the bay and city of Bridgetown.
BTN: Do you feel that hosting the World Travel Awards in Barbados in December this will add momentum to the opening of the property?
TJ: It is definitely an advantage because it is a high-profile event and this is going to be a high-profile hotel. The event will add to the excitement during the opening phase. To open with an attractive event is always nice.
The other hotel opening is Hilton Santo Domingo. It is our 5th property in the Dominican Republic. This is a 21 floor tower-style hotel featuring mostly oceanfront guestrooms and 23 suites, two restaurants and a bar. This brand new construction is going to be the leading hotel in Santo Domingo for business travellers with over 17,000 foot of meetings space, and high-speed internet access. There is a 2 story gym overlooking the ocean and most of the rooms will a sea-view. Built in part of a complex is a huge shopping mall and a casino.
BTN: To what do attribute your success of the Hilton Caribbean?
TJ: One of the benefits is the size if the portfolio, which makes us a strong brand. Secondly we have managed to promote the portfolio as a whole. We started four years ago to really market the brand - instead of marketing the hotels separately.
We offer consistency with our packages so our customers know what they to expect and we can be much more consistent in the message we are sending out.