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Ex-Hilton Sa Torre Mallorca is back for points as Hyatt makes a major hotel acquisition

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Hyatt made a huge acquisition this week, paying $2.7 billion for Apple Leisure Group.

You’ve probably never heard of Apple Leisure Group – I hadn’t. It is a big player in the 4-star ‘tour operator’ market, running fairly smart all-inclusive hotels which are almost exclusively sold via package holiday groups.

As well as operating over 100 hotels, Apple Leisure Group owns a number of tour operators of its own, primarily operating in the US.

Why did Hyatt buy Apple Leisure Group?

It’s an odd one, it has to be said.

This is a huge deal for Hyatt, which is paying around 1/3rd of its current $7 billion valuation. This is a lot to spend on a business which is:

  • very fragmented (multiple brands, multiple tour operator subsidiaries, a timeshare ‘vacation club’, a ‘destination services’ business and a travel IT business)
  • adds multiple hotel brands you have never heard of (Alua, Breathless, Dreams, Secrets, Sunscape and Zoetry) to an already busy portfolio
  • has virtually no assets as its resorts are all managed on behalf of third party owners (this is seen as a good thing in the hotel sector these days, but it means Hyatt is spending $2.7 billion with almost nothing physical to show for it)
  • has probably been squeezed to death by its existing private equity owners
  • takes Hyatt away from its core business travel market

The last point, of course, could be seen as a positive if business travel takes a long time to recover. Apple has ‘real’ mass-market leisure hotels which have virtually no corporate business at all.

Hyatt will now be the biggest global operator of luxury ‘all inclusive’ resorts and this may turn out to be a good place to be for the next decade.

The Hyatt share price is only marginally down on the week. Investors may not be excited but they are not running for the exit either.

It’s decent news if you live in Europe

One upside for HfP readers in the UK is that a decent proportion of the Apple Leisure Group portfolio is in Spain and Greece, mainly branded Alua. The rest is in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

Hyatt’s European footprint will grow by 60% when the deal completes.

We may see some good value World of Hyatt redemption options opening up, especially in peak season. Hyatt has ‘last room availability’ and as long as standard rooms are being sold for cash, they can be booked for rewards.

Hilton Sa Torre Mallorca

Hilton Sa Torre will be back for redemptions

Here is one reason to welcome this deal.

In 2018, Hilton Sa Torre in Mallorca – almost certainly the only Hilton in the world in a 14th century building with its own windmill – left the chain.

This is a shame as it was a surprisingly upmarket hotel which I reviewed here.

With a terrible sense of timing, the hotel signed a franchise deal with Thomas Cook to join the ‘adults only’ Casa Cook brand. Thomas Cook promptly went bust and Sa Torre ended up as part of the Zoetry chain.

I had never heard of Zoetry at the time. It turns out that it is the most luxurious of the Apple Leisure Group brands, although it covers only seven of their 100+ hotels.

Sa Torre’s new website is here and it should be bookable via World of Hyatt points within 12-18 months depending on the speed of the integration.

Nothing else in the Apple Leisure Group portfolio jumps out at me but let’s see how it develops. I would expect to see some brands replaced with Hyatt ones in an attempt to streamline the portfolio and this may impact the ‘adults only’ and ‘all inclusive’ restrictions at those hotels.

The official Hyatt news release on the acquisition is here.


World of Hyatt update – October 2021:

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Comments (38)

  • Sammyj says:

    Really surprised if people have genuinely never heard of these brands. Dreams, Zoetry & Secrets have some of the best luxury all-inclusives in the Caribbean.

    • Lou says:

      There’s a Dreams in Lanzarote I was looking at, now even better

      • Mike says:

        There is a Dream’s in Doncaster- I think it sells beds

      • SammyJ says:

        I’ve seen that and very interested to hear whether it’s half as good as the Caribbean Dreams. I’ve only stayed at the one in Costa Rica, which was pretty epic – can’t see anything Spanish comparing!

    • Rob says:

      All-inclusive is not really HFP territory I think.

      • Simon says:

        Ikos hotels should be on your radar. Even Zafiro in Mallorca. Aware not much of a points angle to them.

        • chabuddy geezy says:

          A few friends have stayed in the Ikos resorts with kids, great reviews. The points angle will be interesting as the prices are normally very high.

        • 1ATL says:

          +1 And a new opening last year was Ikos Andalusia…. looks absolutely stunning.

      • Gary says:

        I’ve been staying at the two Secrets near Cancun 1-2x a year for 5 years. They are excellent and I’d think could be more HfP overlap than you think!
        (Always booked as part of BA Holidays – but with a decent loyalty program through Hyatt this could change…)

      • SammyJ says:

        ‘All-inclusive’ in terms of Tui packages to Benidorm or Corfu perhaps not, but there are plenty of people flying business class to Cancun, Montego Bay, St Lucia etc, and the majority of them will be staying in top-notch all-inclusive resorts. Not everyone goes to the middle-east for every holiday!

        • Gary says:

          Give me a premium adults-only all inclusive in Mexico over the Middle East any day!

        • JDB says:

          The all inclusive resorts are not the top notch resorts though…

  • Simon says:

    Just a quick point. We stayed at the hotel last week for 5 nights. Children are most definitely welcome. Staff were pleased about the Hyatt takeover – they were eying up cheap rates at other Hyatt properties worldwide. One of them mentioned he used to pay 27 euros a night at Hilton’s when it was still on their roster.

    • Ade says:

      How did you find it? Would you recommend?

      • Simon says:

        It’s in the middle of nowhere. 15 / 20 minutes to a decent restaurant or shops etc. It’s quaint and quirky and v v peaceful. Only one restaurant open each night so you will get cabin fever if you like variety. It’s chassis is a very old house. So bundles of character but if you like 60 inch plasmas and power showers it’s not for you. Saying that, the a/c was icy cold. Clientele I would say are low key wealthy, a south of France more than Vegas crowd. We stayed 5 days and loved it except for lack of food choices. Staff are lovely and helpful, if not perfectly polished. Prices I think reflect the quality of the place relative to the top tier resorts in Mallorca. I think it’s great for 3-5 day stay combined with a more bling coastal resort.

  • SP1965 says:

    Children are 100% allowed to stay at all Zoetry Resorts. The only AMResorts brands that are adult only are Secrets and Breathless.

    Surprised you are not aware of the brands as they enjoy a huge market from the UK. Also, to correct you – you are right to say that Alua and Sunscape are four star but all of the other brands that make up at least 50% of the portfolio are firmly five star and offer the most luxurious all inclusive product in the Caribbean and Mexico.

    • Rob says:

      Updated. The ‘adults only’ line was from a Hyatt press release though, and I didn’t question it as Sa Torre went ‘adults only’ under Thomas Cook.

  • AndyW says:

    Pretty much no way to earn points though right? Apart from staying of course!

  • Liam J says:

    The AMResorts portfolio in Mexico and the Caribbean would make up a big chunk of search results for BA holidays to those destinations – I suspect BA, Virgin and TUI are big customers of theirs. I personally do one of these breaks every few years as a “completely get away from it all” thing, and have had some excellent experiences at their properties and some mediocre ones too. I for one am happy with this move. I believe (although not certain) that the European operations are a relatively new part of the operation.

    • 1ATL says:

      Yes the European hotels were acquisitions of existing hotels in Mallorca, Lanzarote. Tarted up and given then branding. Interestingly the ones in Europe aren’t All inclusive by default. They’re B&B with an optional buy up to All Inclusive….. to keep the the travel snobs interested who would otherwise view All inclusive as something inferior.

      • Economist_Nearby says:

        All inclusive is inferior.

        • 1ATL says:

          I’d agree so far as the stereotypical image of concrete resorts with tacky wristbands go….. all rough slop at the buffet and salmonella heat lamps….. But it’s not all like that. At the other end of the AI scale you have Maia and North Island Resorts in The Seychelles…. the latter of which was good enough for Wils and Kate on their honeymoon. Soneva Resorts in Thailand and Maldives offer a buy up option to All Inclusive. Not everything about All Inclusive is necessarily inferior.

  • Barnaby100 says:

    It had a large advertorial review in the Daily Mail last week which made me think it must be struggling

  • Rob M says:

    We stayed at a Zoetry in Mexico as part of our honeymoon and had a great time.

  • Dave B says:

    The Unlimited Vacation Club by AMR™ Collection is an exclusive travel club (timeshare ). Collection properties in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, with nearly 60 resorts.

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