Big changes are happening in Riviera Maya. In December 2013 the 1,264-room Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is scheduled to open after a 3-month transition, in which the former Palace Resorts hotel will be totally renovated into a rock n’ roll utopia. The all-inclusive hotel will feature nine restaurants, nine bars/lounges, six pools, a 75-treatment room spa, a nightclub and 88,915 sf of meeting space.
We spoke with Frank Maduro, vp of marketing for the all-inclusive collection to learn about the transition.
PREVUE: Can you tell us about the rebranding process from Palace Resorts to Hard Rock?
Frank Maduro: We’ve been transitioning for the past three years from Palace Resorts to Hard Rock Hotels. Since 2010 half of the Palace inventory became Hard Rock Hotels, the last one to make the transition is the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. The hotel is scheduled to open on December 1, 2013.
What will the renovation include?
We’re spending close to $50 million. The Riviera Maya property will receive a complete makeover, which will require the hotel to close for three months. We are closing in August and hoping for a soft opening in November, as well as a grand opening in December. There’s a large amount of work going into it so that when it opens, it will be a brand new hotel. All the common areas, rooms, restaurants and convention centers are being entirely redone to bring them to the Hard Rock standards and levels.
What is the vibe of the hotel?
From the moment you drive in, until the moment you put your head on the pillow it will be a totally new experience. When you walk into the property it’s going to be ‘The Hacienda of Rock & Roll.’ The hotel is going to keep the Mexican vibe but feature really cool memorabilia. Upon entry you’ll see a large tree in the middle of the oversized lobby, which will bring the outdoors inside. When groups check in they’ll see huge guitars behind the desks. You’ll have wood panels and wood floors in the rooms and bright reds and blues throughout the property. It’s going to have a lot of traditional Mexican flare, but an awesome rock n’ roll vibe.
Palace Resorts is known for having hot tubs in all guestrooms. Is that something that will continue with the Hard Rock rebrand?
Just like Palace resorts, all guestrooms will have hot tubs, but we are making some changes. All rooms will have a 2-person tub inside and some of the rooms will have sky terraces with a hot tub on the exterior. These are very unique rooms with a second story, ocean views and outdoor sitting areas.
A big feature will be our Rock Star Suite. It’s going to be very over-the-top with an expansive terrace and a vibrant design. Groups like to house their CEO or executives here. We are working with a world-famous rock star to brand it.
Can you tell us about the all-inclusive package?
The resort is totally all-inclusive and the property will be broken down into two sections. Heaven is the adult-only section that includes 400 guestrooms versus the regular side of the resort that includes 700 rooms. We have the flexibility to book a group on the Heaven side of the resort, that way they have their own area. If they need more than 400 rooms, we can actually use a building that expands to both sides.
Hard Rock is one of the few brands that really include everything in the all-inclusive package. By everything I mean the meals, drinks, gratuities, special services, etc. But we take it beyond that; we include 24-hour room service, unlimited WiFi, long distance calling and liquor dispensers in all the rooms—regardless of the category. We’re truly, fully inclusive.
What about group F&B?
The restaurants will change entirely and will be totally rebranded. Because we have such a wide variety of dining choices, dine arounds and buyouts are always an option. Meetings are fully inclusive; this is a great value to all groups.
Can you tell us what you offer for meetings?
We have unlimited, robust function space that is state-of-the-art. We are adding another 40,000 sf of conference space with full A/V capabilities.
For teambuilding, we offer a special program called Rock Camp, using performers from American Idol or The Voice. Our team participated in Rock Camp last year. We worked with professionals from 80’s rock bands. We learned the instruments, got one-on-one time with the musicians and we watched them perform a live concert. They host lunches and speak about their experiences with famous artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. By the end of the program our whole group performed a song live. They really help build and entertain the whole group.
Why should a group book the hotel for their next big meeting/incentive trip?
Mexico is a hot destination once again. We’re pleased to see numbers increasing for the year. Riviera Maya is a very trendy and competitive destination. For January/February 2014 we already have five buyouts scheduled in Riviera Maya. We’re having trouble scheduling our grand opening party because we have so many buyouts. This is the type of place that groups are looking for to host an event. We are receiving many requests from planners to do site inspections everyday.
We’re really looking forward to the opening of the Riviera Maya property. We’ve had tremendous success with the other Palace properties that have transitioned and we know this one will be even better. Our meeting and incentive offerings are second to none. We encourage planners to come visit the property and check out the new revamped resort.