Q&A with Joaquin Serna, TM Real Estate Group

What’s in store for The Fives Hotels & Residences, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary? Joaquin Serna, CEO of TM Real Estate Group, parent company of The Fives Hotels & Residences, talks with Hotel Business about its evolution in its first decade, as well as plans for the future.

How has the collection changed and evolved over the past decade? The Fives Hotels & Residences is a subsidiary of TM Grupo Inmobiliario, Spain’s largest private real estate developer and one of Europe’s most trusted brands for resort residences. Ten years ago, The Fives was not only new to Riviera Maya, Mexico, but to the hotel industry entirely. Throughout these 10 years, we have acquired a great deal of knowledge about the industry, and specifically about what travelers look for in a great resort vacation. We have learned that clients want to be stimulated, surprised and delighted. Thanks to this knowledge, we have developed the sensory hospitality concept, which we have launched as All Senses Inclusive. Under our unique All Senses Inclusive concept, the brand’s portfolio of one-, two- and three-bedroom resorts goes beyond traditional lifestyle brands, delivering authentic local experiences that awaken the five senses. Every year, we have added more sensory enhancements, which has been part of the company’s evolution as we grow into a collection of three resort properties.

Conversely, what has remained the same? Our commitment to providing our visitors with incredible spacious accommodations that allow guests—especially larger families—to truly vacation together and not just travel together. This means providing resort residences with full upscale amenities that allow for the type of quality experience that a normal hotel room cannot provide. The Fives always offers a home away from home, not a mere place to stay.

Tell me about the soon-to-open The Fives Oceanfront Puerto Morelos. Edging the white sands and Caribbean Sea, The Fives Oceanfront Puerto Morelos will be a relaxing seaside escape immersed in the natural beauty of a charming fishing village. Midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s breathtaking Riviera Maya, the peaceful resort will offer a laid-back ambiance with a refreshing approach to modern Mexican design. The hotel is slated to open in March 2020.

Up to this point, the area of Puerto Morelos has seen the development of mostly small, budget accommodations, or large mega-resorts with standard hotel rooms. There are almost no upscale all-inclusive properties in the area, save one, and none in the actual town of Puerto Morelos. The Fives Oceanfront Puerto Morelos will introduce our luxury residence and All Senses Inclusive concept in a hyper-local setting that will allow guests to live the experience of a sleepy fishing village, without giving up any comforts.

Each property offers something a little different—from urban to beach, etc. How do they complement each other, while also retaining their own personality? Our philosophy is to always make sure that the property “fits” into its destination. Many chains will build what amounts to identical blocks of rooms on the land they purchase. We believe in paying attention to not just the hotel services, but the geography, the local culture and the environment. For instance, The Fives Beach Hotels & Residences is surrounded by a tropical rain forest, allowing visitors to feel “lost in the jungle.” The property includes an on-site cenote with low-impact pathways so visitors can spy on the spider monkeys as they swing from tree to tree. The Fives Downtown Hotel & Residences, on the other hand, is an authentic gateway that enjoys the pulsing and energetic lifestyle of Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida, steps from the best restaurants, bars and boutiques where guests can enjoy the perfect balance of land and sea while exploring the Yucatan Peninsula’s treasured attractions, from the sacred Mayan ruins to thrilling eco-theme parks.

Looking at the next decade, what is your vision for the collection? First, we will continue to give ever greater breadth and depth to our All Senses Inclusive concept by adding more never-before-seen sensory hospitality elements. We will focus on our philosophy of creating spaces that exalt the passion of The Fives and provide warm stays for curious travelers, gourmet explorers and anyone who wants to seduce their five senses. Secondly, we will be focused on expanding our footprint from our current 900 keys in two destinations to 3,000 keys in five destinations, with at least two resorts outside of the Cancun/Riviera Maya area.

How would you describe your growth strategy? It focuses on a sustainable and organic growth model that allows us to nurture each project until they are solid, sound and financially successful. Only then would we move on to the next opportunity, building upon our success of the past. We do not want to be the fastest—only the best.

How would you describe the current Riviera Maya hotel market? It is one that is obviously very mature with a great established product offering. The market remains hot, and this is, of course, a good thing, but I believe developers such as ourselves must resist the temptation to do more of the same simply because it has worked in the past. Riviera Maya has plenty of room to expand, but it must do so with innovative and differentiated product, or it will become saturated, especially as we look to appeal to new markets with great potential but little interest in the type of product that has made up a large part of the destination’s past.

What’s something the industry might not know about The Fives that you think it should? Many may know of us as a solid product for families, but I am sure most people are not aware of just how ideal of a product we are for large families in particular. We like to use the phrase “No one beats Fives for five.” What we mean is that no resort gives families of five or more the level of comfort and value that we provide. Visitors don’t have to worry about begging a resort for adjoining rooms or paying extra for guaranteed connecting doors. A lot of resorts won’t even confirm these options. At The Fives, travelers are invited to make our casa into mi casa. HB

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