HB on the Scene: Leaders discuss WorldHotels development

At the WorldHotels Annual Conference at the Eden Roc Hotel Miami, BWH Hotels and WorldHotels leaders discussed the development of the four regions of WorldHotels.

Wytze Van den Berg, VP, international operations, BWH Hotels & VP, Europe, Middle East & Africa, WorldHotels, served as moderator of the session and noted that, post-pandemic, WorldHotels has added about 40 hotels worldwide.

Gregory Habeeb, chief development officer, WorldHotels, North America, offered that due to high interest rates in the region, “reflagging is something that’s been very popular in the development pipeline of North America,” adding, “There are not a lot of purpose-built hotels at this time. Also, in the development landscape, you have to keep a keen eye on what’s going on in sales. I think our team has done a masterful job. So I think the development landscape is getting further attention because of finance and sales, and because we’re stable. I see a very bright future here.”

Richard Rehwaldt, VP, Latin America, BHW Hotels, said the overall outlook is positive even though there is still a lot of poverty in the region.

“Our base of wealthy individuals is not very large,” he said. “That being said, the luxury markets have grown considerably over the last few years regarding the economy, wealth, distribution and consumption preferences. Leading markets like Brazil and Mexico have huge economies, and they have high purchase power groups already there. Our focus will be in Brazil and Mexico, and having a larger consumer luxury base in these two markets bodes well for the luxury hospitality sector. We’ll be targeting cities in Mexico like Los Cabos and in Brazil, we will be targeting cities like Sao Paulo, as well as markets where we have no representation right now. We’ll also be going into other countries like Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Our target for next year is to bring in five new hotels in the region.”

Van den Berg noted that, in Europe, “we’ve added a couple of new territories as well. We added new hotels in Morocco and Greece last year and signed a property in Georgia. And there are other markets where we’re having very active conversations with potential new hotels.”

Rod Munro, who joined BWH Hotels as managing director, Australasia last September, said that WorldHotels Elite and Crafted brands are the two that fit best in his region and that he sees Elite “working out well in the major cities in Asia-Pacific, as certainly in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.”

Look for more coverage of the conference in the February issue of Hotel Business.