Wyndham’s Fën deal alters South American plan

PARSIPPANY, NJ—When the Dazzler hotel opened in Brooklyn in 2015, it also opened the door wider to the U.S. market for Argentina-based Fën Hotels. Less than two years later, the Buenos Aires operator now finds itself a gateway to greater growth in Latin America for one of the largest, multi-brand, global hotel companies in America.

In December, Wyndham Hotel Group acquired Fën Hotels and 26 management contracts across two proprietary brands: the upscale Dazzler Hotels and Esplendor Boutique Hotels, adding to the franchisor’s regional presence.

Additionally, the move included two new Fën-built properties set to open as Wyndham Grand hotels in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Asunción, Paraguay, as well as a Miami, FL, Esplendor in the pipeline.

The deal now grows Wyndham’s brand portfolio to 18 and gives the chain an aggregate 188 hotels in 19 countries in Latin America, which, according to Paulo Pena, president/managing director, Wyndham Hotel Group-Latin America/Caribbean, continues showing signs of economic growth and remains a region of focus as the chain expands globally.

Fën Hotels has been on Wyndham’s radar for a while, the executive noted. “We have known the Fën team for several years, tracking their explosive growth across the region. In recent months we began talking about how the combination of our teams in the region would help us both accelerate future growth,” said Pena.

Last month’s acquisition bolstered Wyndham’s managed portfolio by 24%.

“In the past few years Wyndham has grown from nearly no managed hotels to nearly 100 managed hotels around the world,” he added.

Dazzler Hotels and sister brand, Esplendor Boutique Hotels, were founded in 2002 by Chairman Patricio Fuks and Directors Alejandro Frenkel and Ivan Kozicki, with Fën Hotels subsequently created to operate the properties.

Fën Hotels made its foray into North America by managing The Tides South Beach and the 23-acre Bonaventure Resort and Spa in Florida.

Fuks will remain as chairman of Fën, helping guide the region’s development pipeline, enriching owner relations and advising on future growth plans. Fën Hotels’ partner, Emprenurban, led by CEO Ivan Kozicki, will become a Wyndham strategic partner across the region, launching the first two Wyndham Grand Hotels in Latin America later this year and next.

“Emprenurban boasts wide experience in hotel optimization, economic value, building and equipment,” noted Pena.

In addition, Fën Hotels’ more than 100 executives and management staff in Buenos Aires will remain in place and augment Wyndham’s regional team as Fën’s headquarters becomes Wyndham Hotel Group’s new Latin America base for management operations.

“Wyndham Hotel Group’s strength and significant scale…dramatically increases our distribution, immediately enabling us to grow faster not only in Argentina, but also throughout the region, ensuring more guests experience what Fën Hotels has to offer,” stated Fuks.

Currently, there are 10 Dazzler Hotels and 13 Esplendor Boutique Hotels representing 2,406 rooms. Locations in Argentina include Dazzler Palermo, Dazzler San Martin, Dazzler San Telmo, Dazzler Maipu, Dazzler Recoleta, Dazzler Campana, Dazzler Puerto Madryn, Esplendor Plaza Francia, Esplendor Buenos Aires, Esplendor Palermo Soho, Esplendor Palermo Hollywood, Esplendor Savoy Rosario, Esplendor El Calafate and Esplendor Mendoza. Uruguay locations include Dazzler Montevideo, Dazzler Colonia and Esplendor Montevideo. In Peru, there’s Dazzler Lima and Esplendor Cusco. Other hotels include Esplendor Tamarindo Costa Rica; Dazzler Asuncion, Paraguay; and Dazzler Brooklyn in New York.

Fën Hotels also has a strong pipeline out to 2019. These include Dazzler La Plata (96 rooms), Dazzler Rosario (96 rooms), Dazzler Neuquen (208 rooms) in Argentina; Dazzler Prado (140 rooms) and Esplendor Miraflores (239 rooms) in Peru; Esplendor Punta Carretas (280 rooms) in Uruguay; Esplendor Asuncion (254 rooms) in Paraguay; and Esplendor Bay Harbor (96 rooms) in Miami.

“Coupling our proven development model and capabilities across Latin America with Wyndham’s global brands and resources will ensure an accelerated and robust joint-growth pipeline for Fën and Wyndham,” Kozicki observed.

Paulo Pena Wyndham Hotel Group

Paulo Pena
Wyndham Hotel Group

As to how the brands will grow physically, i.e., conversion or new-builds, Pena said Wyndham would focus on new-construction hotels but would evaluate conversion opportunities “where they make sense.”

Asked if any of the existing Fën Hotels would be reflagged to Wyndham brands, Pena suggested the portfolio has strong recognition. “The Fën team has built an iconic and high-quality portfolio across the region under the Dazzler and Esplendor brands. Our focus will be continuing the successful operation of its existing hotels and working to quickly deliver on the benefits of being part of our global distribution system,” the executive said.

Similarly, Pena was asked if any of the Wyndham brands would be reflagged to Dazzler or Esplendor. “Not at this time,” said Pena. “We recognize the value of Fën’s brands in the region, and we will grow them where it makes sense.”

Given the current lodging landscape, Pena expressed confidence the timing was right for the acquisition.

“Latin America is experiencing new infrastructure projects, foreign investment, record international visitors and a growing middle-class population, all driving the need for quality hotel supply across the region. Fën Hotels is uniquely poised to leverage the region’s appetite for quality accommodations with well-established and trusted brands that travelers adore,” said Pena. “Together, our combined portfolio offers those travelers a multitude of branded hotel choices and also offers investors and developers in the region a trusted, flexible partner willing to accelerate growth as the region thrives.”

Other Wyndham brands in the region include Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Ramada, Super 8, TRYP by Wyndham, Wingate by Wyndham, Wyndham Grand, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Wyndham Garden.

Pena said the two brands would be positioned between the franchisor’s namesake brands (Wyndham Grand, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Wyndham Garden) and TRYP by Wyndham, noting they complement the portfolio “with design-led, lifestyle hotels and an exceptional focus on service and comfort.”

The Fën Hotels’ brands, which attract both business and leisure travelers, also will be bookable through the company’s loyalty program, Wyndham Rewards, by year-end.

Overall, Pena felt there is strong growth opportunity for the company with the new additions. “Latin Americans continue to travel in record numbers, and 70% of that travel is within the region. This acquisition positions us for explosive growth, particularly in our major markets of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile. As we see around the world in developing markets, the rising middle class is an incredible growth engine in Latin America,” he said. “Coupled with the increased use of technology, travelers in the region are more aware of the value of branded hotels and the quality they offer, and they’re looking for hotels with international standards.” HB

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