Face-to-Face: Paul Cookley, The Ritz-Carlton South Beach

Face-to-Face: Paul Cookley, The Ritz-Carlton South Beach

Face-to-Face: Paul Cookley, Director of Sales & Marketing for The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Miami

1)         Can you please give our readers a brief overview of your hotel and its key selling points?

The oceanfront Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is a complete restoration of the original 1953 Morris Lapidus-designed DiLido hotel in the historic Art Deco District and is located on Lincoln Road; steps away from myriad dining, shopping, entertainment and nightlife. The resort’s exclusive offerings include an award-winning Spa, the only oceanfront restaurant and lounge on South Beach and multi-million dollar art collection combined with Ritz-Carlton anticipatory, proactive, service excellence make the hotel extremely appealing to virtually all segments of travellers.

2)         How is Miami’s hotel market faring in 2011, and is The Ritz-Carlton South Beach broadly following these trends?

Our resort through a number of tactical and strategic shifts was able to maintain extremely strong volume and occupancies year round even through the down years of 2009 and 2010. Now our focus is on starting to grow/creep room rates back up across both the group and leisure segments. While our leisure room packages for example have typically been based on value adds we now focus as a hotel and as a brand for that matter on experiential components that offer a higher level of worth for the guest such as our Discover With You package that includes breakfast for two, daily US$100 hotel credit, and the use of a two Trek Beach Cruiser bikes for an hour (once per stay) to explore South Beach from up on two wheels!

3)         What are the hotel’s key source markets, and are you noticing any increase in visitors from Asia’s emerging markets?

The Northeast, Mid Atlantic, and local drive in have always been strong markets for us along with the UK and Germany from an international perspective. Domestically we have been excited with year-over-year growth trends from Dallas and the Russian market internationally.

4)    The Ritz-Carlton South Beach has a strong MICE component. With uncertainly still lingering in the economy, how has this segment of your business fared so far in 2011?

Rate is still challenged overall and perception issues with luxury still linger from time to time but overall if South Beach is the preferred destination choice we can fit perfectly the 100-175 peak room group with our blend of indoor/outdoor space and event support. Overall it’s been great to see some Incentives cycling back and some celebration start to work their way into group movements through recreation such as spa along with theme parties/ breaks and creative F& B. So much of any travel is emotionally and experientially driven so regardless of any economic trend it’s something we all want, need, deserve and will strive for. The group segment and corporate America is starting to understand this again in my opinion.

5)         What further developments can we expect from The Ritz-Carlton South Beach in 2012?  

Room renovations and some public space work have been tentatively scheduled and we hope to formally announce these very soon. At this juncture it looks as though these will indeed happen and all of our guests can look forward to a fully refreshed product and of course, in conjunction with our great location and service.

Mark Elliott
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