Curio – A Collection by Hilton continues its worldwide expansion through a partnership with two beachfront resorts on Jamaica’s northern shores. The properties—Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort and Spa in Runaway Bay and Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa in Ocho Rios—represent the brand’s first acquisitions in the Caribbean and deepen its roster of independent upper upscale and luxury hotels.
Dianna Vaughan, global head of Curio, announced the new signings at the Montego Bay Convention Center on April 1 with the Honorable Dr. Kenneth Wykeham McNeill, minister of tourism and entertainment for Jamaica; Paul Pennicook, director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourism Board; and representatives from the hotel ownership and management companies, Sagicor Group Jamaica and Aimbridge Hospitality. The deal represents a strengthening Caribbean presence for Hilton Worldwide and, in particular, Curio, which is aggressively seeking hotels defined by and connected to their local communities.
Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa is a 250-room, all-inclusive, adults-only, oceanfront property located in the shadow of Dunn’s River Falls and Park, Mystic Mountain Rainforest Adventures, James Bond Beach, and the popular cruise liner port of Ocho Rios. Pampering is more the order of the day inside the property. Three large guestroom buildings flow out onto a central concourse, with an array of poolside bars, the Bling nightclub featuring live music and dancing, plus restaurants ranging from formal white-glove service at Platinum to the footwear-optional Aquamarina Bar and Grill, specializing in Jamaican jerk burgers and wraps. Rooms range from 800-plus-square-foot ocean view suites with dual balconies to mountain view rooms and two-story dwellings to accommodate wedding parties and groups. The resort is expected to join the Curio collection at the end of the third quarter.
Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort and Spa is an all-inclusive, adults-only property with a strong emphasis on wellness and fitness and an intimate feel. The 210 rooms and 15 suites are closer to ground level and situated in a lush, campus-like spread, keeping guests closer to natural surroundings. All rooms feature paintings by local artists. Fitness stations appear throughout the property and guests can partake in yoga, spinning, reggae dance classes, nature trail hikes, and even beach cricket. Packages include diving and scuba certification courses, reef snorkeling, water skiing, local shopping excursions, and 18-hole golf at nearby Runaway Bay Golf Club. Healthy dining and drink options reside alongside Golden Sabre Sushi, teppanyaki-style feasts at The Jade Samaurai, brick oven pizza by the water’s edge at Court Jesters, and the jazz-infused Jasper’s Chillin’ Piano Bar. The property will become a Curio member at the end of the second quarter.
Vaughan is enthusiastic about bringing these properties into the Curio family, suggesting their natural fit with the brand’s strategic vision. “Curio is unique within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, as it’s a brand that’s not really defined,” Vaughan told Lodging during a press conference. “Curio is [a collection of] individual, unique hotels… . As we grow the Curio brand, we’re looking not only at the quality of the hotels but also their connections to the local community, the people, the places, and energy.” Since its June 2014 launch, Curio has been actively seeking four- and five-star properties in prime locations, bringing a diverse mix of luxury offerings to feed their Hilton HHonors members.
Curio allows its member properties to maintain their individuality and independence while benefiting from Hilton Worldwide’s sales and marketing platforms, including the HHonors loyalty program. The two Jewel resorts were a fit for Curio because Jamaica is an attractive destination with high demand, especially from U.S. travelers, Vaughan said. Hilton Worldwide also already had a prior relationship with its partners, Sagicor and Aimbridge, so the move was low risk, she added.
That relationship initiated earlier this year when Sagicor acquired the 489-room Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay from the Blackstone Group and brought Aimbridge onboard to manage the property. Sagicor, owner of three Jewel Resorts in Jamaica, launched the Sagicor X Fund on the Jamaican Stock Exchange a few months ago, giving the Jamaican public the opportunity to invest in hotels and tourism. Sagicor President and CEO Richard O. Byles indicated that the fund had been a big success and has joined a $140 million investment in their portfolio, which has grown from a little over 200 to 1,300 rooms. “Alongside that growth has come good occupancies, improving rates, and an excellent track record of customer service,” he said at the conference.
Byles is pleased the relationship with Hilton has deepened with the Curio brand. “It is a win-win situation,” he said. “We’re still building our brand, but we have the support and power of the Hilton booking platform that will give us the types of occupancies and rates that we want.”
Vaughan admitted that Curio will have a decidedly Jamaican flavor in 2015. “With its abundantly striking beauty and quest for life, Jamaica has just so much to offer,” she said. “We are very optimistic that we’ll have more presence here.” But the brand also has its eye on other Caribbean locations that will appeal to HHonors members. “Our goal is 200 to 250 more properties in the next three to four years,” Vaughan said, “and I think we’d really love to have a huge part of that be in the Caribbean.”