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Apple Leisure Group CEO Alejandro Zozaya.
Apple Leisure Group CEO Alejandro Zozaya.

In late October Apple Leisure Group announced that it had signed 10 resort deals over the past ten months, and that AMResorts would sign its 100th resort by 2020. Then, on Tuesday, Dec. 13, venture capital companies KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.) and KSL Capital Partners announced having purchased ALG from Bain Capital.

This is quite an acquisition, a vertically integrated powerhouse that includes six AMResorts brands, Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, CheapCaribbean.com, Unlimited Vacation Club, Worldstar, and world-beater Amstar DMC. Together, these components have made ALG the number one seller of all-inclusive packages in the United States and the number one seller of leisure travel to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica in the world.

Always the innovator, ALG, through its subsidiary AMResorts, also just announced Defined Delights, which will debut May 1 with the relaunch of Dreams Delight Playa Bonita Panama. Whereas many a la carte resorts have created all-inclusive options, Define Delights offers guests a less all-inclusive package at an all-inclusive resort because it’s in a place where visitors want to spend more time beyond the hotel gates.

Between ALG’s nonstop growth and innovations, it makes sense at this time to ask Apple Leisure Group CEO Alejandro Zozaya for his take on the industry:

The U.S. as Emerging Market
Zozaya expects increased travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin American regions. “Since 10 years ago, when only 18 percent of U.S. citizens had passports, the government has issued 15 million passports per year, half of them new passports, so we’ve gained about 80 million potential customers,” he says, “Even so, less than 40 percent of Americans have passports, so the U.S. is still an emerging market for international travel. That 60 percent don’t have passports is good news, because they are going to have passports one day; almost 100 percent of Canadians have passports.

“This potential is triggering a new supply that is outpacing demand right now, but these things go in cycles. Travel is more of a commodity today—it’s for everyone—so as more Americans get passports, travel and room rates will go up.”

Preferred Club Bungalow Suite Swim Out Suite at Secrets Cap Cana Resort Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Preferred Club Bungalow Suite Swim Out at Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The Greenback and Travel
Zozaya also cites the strong American dollar. As he explains, “currencies in other countries, like Mexico, have devalued, which gives Americans greater buying power.”

But does that matter with all-inclusives? “Yes,” replies Zozaya. “Both hotel rates and airplane tickets have dropped, so travelers have 13 to 16 percent more buying power than last year. For the same money, they can upgrade or stay another night. The exchange rate also helps Americans when it comes to shopping, excursions, and tipping…It’s an incentive to travel more internationally and less domestically.”

For more information, visit appleleisuregroup.com.

Coming soon: Part 2 of Recommend magazine’s interview with Alejandro Zozaya.