Wyndham opts for a bigger slice of recovery in Latin America

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The world’s largest hotel franchisor has its sights set on Latin America. Wyndham has appointed Gustavo Viescas to a leadership role, where he will lead the company’s plans to double its hotels regionally by 2027.

Paula Krizanovic

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ new Senior Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Gustavo Viescas, has one major goal: to significantly expand its presence in the region.

“Our goal is to become the leader in Latin America, where some of our competitors are twice as big as us,” said Viescas, who has worked at Wyndham for 20 years. “We need to at least double our number of hotels in the area within about five years.”

The company’s 235 hotels in Latin America, of which more than 200 are franchises, represent 2.7% of its global total. Viescas aims to open at least one Wyndham Grand in every Latin American capital as well as expand all of its brands in the region. The company operates 17 of the 22 brands in its portfolio in Latin America.

Wyndham made two major additions to its portfolio last year in the Registry Collection, its first luxury brand, and Wyndham Alltra, the company’s first brand dedicated entirely to all-inclusive properties. Wyndham has opened hotels for each brand in Mexico, where the company operates 66 properties.

“The pandemic has tipped the balance towards investors who have their eye on the leisure segment,” Viescas said. “All-inclusive is a very hot business right now and not just in Mexico but across the region, with people looking for opportunities for new construction as well as conversions.”

But Viescas sees huge growth potential in other big Latin American markets like Brazil, where Wyndham operates 36 hotels, and Argentina. Wyndham is already a major player in the latter country, having acquired Fën, the Buenos Aires-based hotel management company behind the Dazzler and Esplendor brands.

“In Argentina we will continue to target conversions,” Viescas said of the country where he has 57 hotels in his portfolio. “There are many independent hotels that could benefit from our expertise and our brands. Moreover, we are the only international chain with a regional office in Buenos Aires.

Wyndham has already made progress expanding into Chile. The company collaborated with local group Pettra to double its presence in the country in March, adding hotels in Santiago, Concepción and Antofagasta that will operate under the Wyndham and Wyndham Garden brands.

Viescas said Wyndham had very important criteria for determining the targeted hotels. “They need to be in a growing market and add strategic value,” he said, citing Colombia – a country where Wyndham operates eight hotels – as an example.

“For example, we currently do not manage any hotels in Bogota, a capital with a major international airport. Therefore, it could be (an) interesting destination.

Viescas added that Wyndham could consider launching a brand in a new market or adding hotels that already have owners to its portfolio in major cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo or São Paulo, which he thinks the company will could handle effectively.

“For us, (a hotel with an) existing owner takes precedence over potential new ones,” Viescas said.