If you’re seeking an international perspective on the hospitality industry, speaking with Maria Gonzalez, the Brand Director of the Excellence Group, is a good place to start. During her eight years in sales, marketing, and branding, Gonzalez has called Spain, the Philippines, and the Netherlands home.
At the time of this interview, Maria was visiting her company’s newest all-inclusive luxury addition, Excellence Oyster Bay Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Prior to adding Jamaica to their portfolio, the Netherlands-based Excellence Group focused their hotel attention in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Gonzalez took a brief timeout from preparing an Oyster Bay photo shoot to discuss branding, the Excellence Group’s future growth plans, and what she looks for when visiting a hotel property.
Most of the Excellence Group’s resorts have a Latin American connection. How did they choose Jamaica as a new destination?
The Excellence Group already had resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, so entering a new Caribbean destination seemed in line with our natural growth. Jamaica is a great fit considering the existing presence of the USA, CANADA, and UK markets on the island, particularly for the adults-only and romance segments.
How does the Excellence Group compete with their bigger all-inclusive luxury resort competitors?
We look at our intimate size, which includes Excellence, Beloved, and Finest resort brands, as an advantage. Our guests do a tremendous job promoting our resorts through word of mouth and fan pages
What is the early reaction to Oyster Bay?
We’re thrilled with this property. The convenience to the airport, the beauty of the water surrounding the property, and our new beach house concept for suite accommodations are all things we’re excited about.
How important is architecture when designing a new resort and staying true to your brand?
The owners of Excellence Group are very architecturally focused. The Beach House concept we’ve gone with at Oyster Bay seems to be a perfect fit for a Jamaican vacation.
Your September visit was your first to Oyster Bay Resort. As a Brand Director, what are you looking for as you tour the property, and meet with staff and guests?
I wear two different hats when I visit a property. When I’m wearing my insider hat, I’m looking to make sure our standards of service are met. I also work to see if we’re making those special moments of romance, reconnection, and relaxation happen. That’s what Excellence Resorts are known for.
When I wear my outside hat, I’m questioning things like architectural flow, dining experiences, and all sorts of small details. How can we get better at creating a special vacation for our guests? The feedback we receive helps to shape the personality of our properties.
You’ve lived and traveled all over the world. Is there one thing you’ve learned from your experiences that you try to share as a Brand Director?
If we can continue to do well by our employees, they’ll rave about working for Excellence Group. When this occurs, our resort guests feel this enthusiasm during their stay. When employees and guests are positive, they tell their friends. That makes for a great and lasting brand that people want to identify with.
Anything new happening as far as future openings in the Caribbean and beyond?
Let’s just say we are poised for growth. I think exciting new developments are on the way. Stay tuned