Skift Take

Bespoke experiences are at the heart of luxury travel today, with consumers prioritizing elevated offerings and carving out time for new adventures. Marriott International Caribbean and Latin America is uniquely positioned to satisfy this expectation as it reimagines luxury, expands its high-end offerings, and introduces guests to local cultures.

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Luxury travel is in the midst of a reboot. The $363 billion sector led the industry’s recovery, as travelers flush with cash and eager to get back in the world splurged on flights, accommodations, and experiences. And while some luxury travel providers do still offer over-the-top opulence, this conventional view is being upended by a new set of consumer priorities around connection, wellness, and authenticity.

As consumers reimagine what value, connection, and cultural exploration look like, Marriott International Caribbean and Latin America is ready to meet this growing demand. Ease of travel, an advantageous exchange rate, and a rich tapestry of culturally and geographically diverse destinations have made the region an integral part of Marriott International’s growth strategy. Ten percent of the company’s global luxury portfolio is currently located in the region, including 62 luxury properties, from The Ritz-Carlton and Ritz-Carlton Reserve to St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, JW Marriott, and W Hotels. And more properties are on the way, including St. Regis and Edition properties in Riviera Maya, Mexico, as well as the first luxury branded all-inclusive property in the region: Sanctuary Cap Cana, a Luxury Collection All-Inclusive Resort, Dominican Republic.

While each property may interpret luxury on a brand-by-brand basis, insights into luxury preferences from Marriott Bonvoy loyalty members have influenced segment growth across the portfolio. Customer feedback has accelerated brand market adaptation and given Marriott International the opportunity to differentiate and customize its offerings by leveraging regional relationships to create special experiences that align with emerging luxury trends, as with its recent entry into the all-inclusive segment.

The Purposeful Luxurian

With travel demand rising in the wake of the pandemic, Marriott International Caribbean and Latin America has recognized that the modern perception of luxury is shifting away from obvious associations with affluence towards more meaningful and authentic experiences that appeal to a variety of tastes, with travelers focused on leaving people and places better than they found them. Therefore, crafting valuable, high-end experiences that consumers expect — and can connect to — is imperative.

“In examining this new ethos, we saw a renewed appreciation and desire for the extraordinary, to make time for bucket-list trips, and for bespoke experiences from authentic destination offerings to spa, and food and beverage,” said Diana Plazas-Trowbridge, chief sales and marketing officer, Caribbean and Latin America, at Marriott International. “Seizing the opportunity to journey beyond the norm and explore a location and its culture more deeply is a priority. We are fortunate to have an exceptional portfolio of brands coupled with strong local relationships to deliver cultural touchpoints, fulfill brand promises, and exceed the high expectations of this renewed traveler.”

The Cosmopolitan Factor

While popular destinations like Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia remain in high demand, an alternative definition of luxury is emerging in cosmopolitan destinations such as São Paulo, Bogotá, Cusco, and Mexico City — all of which offer a wide range of exceptional adventures into local lifestyle and history. Instead of traveling to Europe for that cosmopolitan fix, for example, the purposeful luxurian is realizing they can experience the same vibe in the Caribbean and Latin America. This shift bodes well for the region’s growth potential.

“As purposeful luxurian travelers rethink destinations and cultural exploration more thoroughly, the benefits of visiting our Caribbean and Latin America properties become increasingly persuasive,” Plazas said. “From the multitude of cuisines in Mexico City, to the history of Machu Picchu in Peru, to skiing during the American summer in Chile and Argentina, or visiting beautiful beaches year-round in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Costa Rica, travelers can fully immerse themselves and return home feeling more adventurous and enriched.”

The Loyalty Halo Effect

Marriott leverages its popular Marriot Bonvoy travel marketplace and award-winning loyalty program to bring an elevated standard for guest recognition and service to the Caribbean and Latin America region. Anticipating guest needs and providing personalized, high-touch care is further redefining what luxury means for its guests. For example, Marriott Bonvoy members can engage through the app to make pre-arrival requests, share celebrations, and more.

Membership in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program provides access to new destinations and experiences as well. Redeeming points is enormously popular across the portfolio, and now Marriott Bonvoy has been extended to the region’s two ultra-luxury Ritz-Carlton Reserve resorts: Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico and Zadún in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Entering An Era of Growth

In reassessing what luxury travel is today, from relationships, to preferences, to loyalty, Marriott brands have been able to rethink their value propositions to make an impact on regional luxury and exploration.

In order to continually deliver tailored experiences to guests at scale, Marriott International plans to build upon local relationships with aligned brands and experiences.

“A strong example is The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico, where guests can explore its expansive natural setting through naturalist-guided bird-watching experiences, kayaking tours, and ecosystem learning opportunities. They can even support a dog rescue; the hotel works with an airline to ease the process of guests taking rescue dogs back to the U.S. mainland,” Plazas said.

She continued, “Our three luxury properties in Cusco, Peru also benefit from an exceptional location. Guests can arrange for private tours and treks of UNESCO World Heritage site Machu Picchu, all while calling a luxury hotel their home away from home. Or consider The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Ambassadors of the Environment program with Jean-Michel Cousteau — it’s not just how to bring guests into a hotel, but also how to immerse them into the destination.”

As its luxury footprint in the region continues to grow — with recent JW Marriott openings in Guadalajara and São Paulo, and upcoming developments in the Riviera Maya, including The St. Regis Kanai Resort and The Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai — Marriott will continue to work with owners and franchise partners to deliver on evolving guest expectations for luxury.

“There are incredible experiences for purposeful luxurians in the Caribbean and Latin America,” Plazas said. “We invite them to embrace an opportunity for truly transformative travel through our captivating locations, properties, and teams, whose pride in local history and heritage comes through in their exceptional service. The Caribbean and Latin America may well be the most unexpected destination for luxury.”

This content was created collaboratively by Marriott International: Caribbean and Latin America and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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Tags: hotels, international luxury travel market, luxury, marriott, SkiftX Showcase: Hospitality

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