By Venus Carrillo Ortega
Rafael Villanueva, commercial director of Blue Diamond in Cuba
With only three years of operation in Cuba, the Canadian company Blue Diamond seeks to expand its presence in the Caribbean market, where already today operates six tourist facilities and four thousand rooms. These figures place it as the third major chain, after Melia and Iberoestar.
On the projections of the Group on the island, its commercial director Rafael Villanueva said currently found in negotiations with Cuban companies to continue its expansion throughout the Caribbean archipelago, from new projects in Jibacoa, Havana, Holguin, Varadero and Jardines Del Rey keys.
Under the brands Memories, directed basically to the segment of family, and Royalton, luxury and adult-only, Blue Diamond currently operates two hotels in Varadero (Memories Varadero and Royal Hicacos), two in Cayo Santa María (Memories paradise blue Royalton Cayo Santa María) and two in Cayo Coco (Memories Flamenco and Caribbean Memories).
“Our interest is to continue to grow, with the intention of positioning ourselves in the next two or three years as the second foreign chain which manages more rooms on the island,” said the representative of the company.
Villanueva highlighted that it has helped to position the Cuban destination at major sites online – such as TripAdvisor, HolidayCheck and Monark-, allowed that national owners trust Blue Diamond management model to manage and market their hotels in the world.
Such is the case of The Royalton Cayo Santa Mara, which appeared in 2013 as the best resort in Cuba and the Caribbean, according to the opinions of thousands of users in the world travel TripAdvisor site. This site also recognizes the Royal Hicacos as number one in Varadero, and considered it for a while as the second best in the country. While Memories Flamenco is located in the second seat of Jardines Del Rey.
“In addition, we want to increase our entertainment services in facilities that already operate with new options for children such as theme parks and water slides, a resounding success in resorts like Memories Varadero experience,” said the Executive.
On the findings in the just-concluded summer season, considered by tradition the less favorable for tourism in Cuba, Cuba Contemporánea spoke, in addition to Villanueva, to Valeriano Lanzarotti, director general of the Memories Varadero, one of the largest in the country with 1 035 hotels rooms.
“All we do to capture the domestic market proved a success, and exceeded our expectations. On weekends, in particular, recorded peaks of occupation, so many in Varadero facilities as in the keys Coco and Santa María. Occupancy rate reached 70%, and even 80%, levels characteristic of the high stage and not down,” said Villanueva.
“During the summer season we organize seven outlets in Havana and others at Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara, whose sales were actually higher in comparison with same period of last year,” he considered. “These findings lead us to that we will continue betting on the national market and reinventing our offers to catch their interest”.
For his part, Lanzarotti said that “in particular for the Memories Varadero summer was a very strong period, with balances higher than we expected. In fact, we cannot say that we did have offseason this year, because levels of occupation came to reach the winter (between 60 and 80%), when the movement of tourists is more dynamic. And in that sense, the Cuban market was essential. I think that there is no tourist facility that can ignore the local market, because it represents the first potential, and if we do not think so we cannot move forward.”
On Blue Diamond Company preparations for the winter season, Villanueva said that they never fail to improve and to have ready their offerings. “In recent months we have reinforced our actions of promotion, events and fairs of tourism in the world, with a view to position our product.”
To successfully close the intense summer months, the Canadian firm organized a day of numerous activities in the Memories Varadero, which included foam parties on the beach, fashion shows by customers and concerts of renowned Cuban artists. The celebrations culminated with recognition of the best sellers of the products of Blue Diamond in Cuba, whose first three places were representatives of the Cubatur travel agency.
Under the name of Memories SuperParty, this was a themed week to dismiss the summer season, full of recreational activities, with a view also to drive sales in the month of October, by tradition one of the most fall periods for tourism.
About the initiative, the Canadian chain in Cuba, Miguel García, its representative, explained that from the beginning it was received enthusiastically by all the Memories of loyalty Plan sales network, Circle diamond 2014, and that thanks to the management and the daily effort of every promoter of the national market, the company today shows very satisfactory results in the marketing of its facilities.
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