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By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Nassau/Paradise hotel industry is aiming to "hoist" average daily room rates (ADRs) in 2012 to drive further room revenue increases, as nights sold and room revenue in December 2011 increased by 5.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively year-over-year.
According to preliminary statistics released by the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) and the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, the 14-major New Providence hotels showed continued improvement in December, with "increases in several key metrics".
Room nights sold increased by 5.1 per cent and hotel room revenue by 6.5 per compared to December 2010, ...
Every hotel in Nassau "will be full" come Thanksgiving 2011, an Atlantis' top executive has predicted, as the resort celebrates the Bahamas achieving NCAA 'exempt status', which will pave the way for it to host a major pre-season college basketball tournament.
Kerzner International (Bahamas) president and managing director, George Markantonis, said the 'Battle 4 Atlantis' event will boost employment levels at the resort during the traditionally slower
Atlantis will join the ranks of hotels that have experienced an average 20 percent increase in their room revenues within just a year when it joins the Marriott "Autograph" collection of hotels in September, tapping into a 45-million strong consumer base, a Marriott executive has disclosed.
Commenting on the impact observed on revenue generated at the 60 properties that have become part of the international hotel brand's portfolio of properties, Dave Grissen, Marriott Group president, said the success seen has helped the company to attract a growing number of hotels into its collection since its launch in 2010.
"In around the 12 months after most hotels have joined - and I'll admit that (Atlantis) is a very unique hotel compared to the average hotel in our Autography collection - we've been very successful, which is why so many hotels have joined and continue to join the collection.
"On average we've seen almost a 20 percent revPAR (revenue per available room) lift in year one from when they've joined the collection and from a revPAR Index star reporting (perspective) we've seen about a 12 percent increase, so some very strong growth, but it's a wide variety."
The revPAR Index is a measure of how an individual hotel is performing in RevPAR against its main competitors. An RPI below 100 means the market is outperforming the hotel, whereas an RPI over 100 means that the hotel is outperforming the competitive set against which it is being compared.
At a press conference to announce the strategic partnership between the two sides, which will see Atlantis become a hotel that can be accessed by the 45 million Marriott loyalty program members, President and Managing Director of Atlantis George Markantonis predicted that the hotel will achieve success beyond some of the properties within the collection.
"I know there was reference to the Cosmopolitan (Las Vegas) being the second largest (hotel in the Autograph collection), and they have a casino, but I'd like to think we'll take away a lot of the point redemptions away from them, because we have three beaches and a waterscape," quipped Markantonis.
"We think it's going to be a big stimulus for our groups. It's hard to put a number on it immediately, because as was mentioned, this is a very different property. With this opportunity for point redemption, most people who have points, studies show, tend to use them for vacations - and the more exotic the location the better."
Markantonis suggested the deal struck between the two sides reflects the company's belief that it must be "proactive" about its future.
Hotels that become part of the Autograph collection, as Atlantis will officially by the fall, benefit from becoming visible in Marriott's sales and distribution systems and have sales of rooms in their properties incentivized by the ability for visitors to pay for them through the redemption of points earned through the Marriott loyalty program. In addition, members can earn points for their stays at hotels in the collection.
The "global marketing partnership" is expected to boost visitor numbers in terms of both individual and group travel, with Marriott considered a significant player in the group travel business.
Andrea Balkan, managing partner for Brookfield Asset Management, said that the partnership is the culmination of years of negotiations over how best the Atlantis owner could further enhance the appeal of the resort globally.
"We took over the property in 2012, and I think since the date we took it over we've been thinking about what we can do to continue to enhance the appeal of the destination, both with respect to additional capital expenditure but also in terms of if there's a strategic partner that could also help us get where we want to be.
"We'd spoken to Marriott as long as two years ago; it was a long negotiation. It was a negotiation being conducted parallel to our refinancing efforts, and so we were able to bring both together at the same time," said Balkan.
In a demonstration of the type of additional exposure Atlantis will gain through the tie-up, Grissen noted that Marriott's website is projected to generate $9.6 billion in total sales in 2014.
The deal was announced at a press conference at Atlantis yesterday; the announcement was made by Markantonis, along with several senior Marriott executives, Senior Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister Sir Baltron Bethel and Director of Investments Candia Ferguson. Through it, Atlantis will become Marriott's first Bahamian hotel in the Autograph collection and its largest overall.
The news came a day after Brookfield and Atlantis, along with the Prime Minister Perry Christie, revealed that the company had successfully closed a $1.95 billion recapitalization deal - deemed a major coup in today's financial climate - and a critical step forward for the stability and future prospects for expansion at the resort.
Rick Hoffman, Marriotts executive vice president of business development, said that when Marriott launched the Autograph collection in 2010, it did so with properties such as Atlantis "exactly in mind".
"We're excited to be able to introduce The Bahamas to our customers; this will be our first major resort in The Bahamas for Marriott International's customers.
"We are always looking to give (loyalty program members) as many unique vacation opportunities as we can, and this is a tremendous opportunity for our customers to be able to experience the unique nature of Atlantis," he added.
Grissen added: "We look forward to bringing our group customers here. Marriott's a powerful group sales engine, that's one of the part of Atlantis that doesn't get a lot of attention, but it's a nice group house with a lot of great meeting space and close to the U.S. where we're a powerful group player, so we look forward to bringing our group customers here."
Sir Baltron called Marriott "a world leader in the procurement of group business (with) a client base which is second to none".
"This bodes well not only for Atlantis but for The Bahamas," he added.