LONDON, Nov. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Questex’s Resort and Residential Hospitality Forum (R&R) welcomed 250 senior delegates to the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Resort in Portugal on 25-27 October 2021 to broker deals, network and discuss the trends impacting the resort and leisure industry.
R&R is part of the highly reputable International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), and attracts a senior audience of leading investors, developers and operators in the leisure hospitality sector. More than 70 industry-expert speakers took to the stage over the three-day event, including senior leaders from the world’ largest resort brands; Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, Minor Hotel Group, Ramón Aragonés CEO of NH Hotel Group and Christian Michel, European Vice President of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. The full speaker lineup can be viewed here.
This year’s conference theme ‘Leisure Leads the Return’, focused on both the current and future landscape alongside new ways of thinking and innovations that have been borne out of the impact of the global health crisis.
Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism, Government of Portugal opened the conference and shared a warm welcome with the audience “We’ve been apart for 20 months and it’s so nice to show that we can reconnect again at events like R&R.”
The much-anticipated CEO Interview with Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels began with him stating that “Recovery is happening.” There are encouraging green shoots in European operations. The company usually took around €4-5 million of business per day before the crisis and was now seeing reservations at the lower end of that range. “We’re now catching up to about four,” he said. “Every month our bookings are improving.”
Rajakarier shared views on the transformation of the resort and residential market following the pandemic, changing travel markets and evolving consumer demand. “Guests have new expectations, led in the short term by concerns about health and safety, travel restrictions and lockdown.”
He finished with a look ahead, sharing the news that they plan to launch eight new Anantara hotels in Europe in 2022. “We always say crisis brings opportunity.”
Financial relationships in the hotel industry have undergone fundamental change during the pandemic was one of the main messages to emerge from the ‘Opportunities in Leisure’ panel session. Jorge Ruiz, head of hotels in Spain and Portugal for CBRE, hosted the panel which discussed the expected recovery of leisure hospitality, opportunities in resorts and potential availability of distressed assets is attracting attention from investors.
The shift in business activity away from city centre hotels toward resorts exposed a knowledge deficit among many of the larger institutions who have traditionally invested heavily in hotels. Tina Yu, principal of KSL Capital Partners, said: “There’s more to investing in hotels than square box rooms in big city centres.”
Data and stats were the name of the game when Thomas Emanuel of STR shared his latest insights. There is a definite sense of positivity in the market with a distinct summer peak in ADR rates that achieved higher rates than in 2019. There is also a predicted bumper opening of new rooms in 2022 as a result of delayed openings during 2020/21.
Resort operators are becoming increasingly and more directly aligned with owners, according to Miguel Casas Albandor, managing director of Stoneweg Hospitality, the Geneva-based investment firm.
Citing changes precipitated by Covid and especially home working, he said it is now commonplace for hotel guests to combine holidays with work boldly claiming that “City breaks should be renamed resort breaks.”
The emergence of changes in work from home patterns and behaviours is posing its own unique challenges. Resorts that enable holidaymakers to work as well as play have huge growth opportunity.
Christian Michel, European vice president of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts posed questions about which firms would be best placed to embrace the innovations required, advise financiers on budgeting details, and bring together the numerous parties needed to make new-style residential resorts a success.
The second of the two big-hitting CEO Panels created a super-charged start on day two, this time discussing Rebuilding the Leisure Hospitality Experience. Host of the session, Roger Allen, CEO of RLA Global, said: “The industry was hit with major challenges.”
Ramón Braña Cobas, CEO of Oca Hotels, which has coastline properties in Spain, Portugal and Brazil, said: “The lack of labour is one of the main problems in our company.”
They were joined by Ramón Aragonés CEO of NH Hotel Group, the Spanish subsidiary of Minor International (MINT). NH, Aragonés employs 12,000 people and as a larger operator can offer career development. “As I often say,” he added, “if you take care of your people, your people will take care of your clients.”
When pushed to share their views on growth sectors within leisure hospitality, all agreed that the Urbanisation of resorts, extended stay and soft brands were key sectors to keep an eye on, whilst MICE travel has yet to return, Jordi Ferrer, CEO of Hesperia World, added: “those properties with bigger spaces for MICE will fare better than others” as he feels social distancing may continue for a little while longer than we might expect.
The central message emerging around ESG is it is no longer acceptable for the hospitality industry to simply talk about environmental, social, and governance priorities. Owners, governments, customers, suppliers, consumers want action. Several panellists spoke convincingly about relatively small steps taken towards bigger goals during the Conscious Hospitality session.
Ioannis Orfanos, the founding partner at Arbitrage Real Estate Advisors, said many investors would only provide the capital required by residential resorts if they were presented with demonstrable evidence of commitment to ESG priorities.
He also said that progress to date had been slow partly because of the difficulty measuring adherence to ESG targets. He said progress was delayed in the past because of the belief that: “You cannot monetise that which you cannot measure.”
A shift in gear to the inspiring and motivating keynote speaker Eulanda Shead Osagiede, who left the audience with an inspiring thought to take home with them: "Our current reality means we have the possibility to reimagine what travel could look like..." It truly is an exciting time for the resort and leisure hospitality sector, as it sits atop the cusp of seismic change.
Looking ahead, R&R 2022 will take place on the 18-20 October at The Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Resort. Visit randrforum.com for more information as registration will open in the coming weeks.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Questex helps people live better and longer. Questex brings people together in the markets that help people live better: travel, hospitality and wellness; the industries that help people live longer: life science and healthcare; and the technologies that enable and fuel these new experiences. We live in the experience economy – connecting our ecosystem through live events, surrounded by data insights and digital communities. We deliver experience and real results. It happens here.
Marketing Director, Hotel Investment
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