Ritz-Carlton Cancun Leaving Marriott, Becoming Kempinski

Ritz-Carlton Cancun Leaving Marriott, Becoming Kempinski

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As I first wrote about last week, the Ritz-Carlton Cancun is ending its affiliation with Marriott. We now know what the future holds for this hotel — it’ll become a Kempinski.

Ritz-Carlton Cancun ending Marriott affiliation

The Ritz-Carlton Cancun is no longer accepting reservations as a Marriott as of September 1, 2022. It has been confirmed that the hotel won’t be affiliated with Marriott as of that date,

The 363-room beachfront resort has been popular with Marriott Bonvoy members. Admittedly it wasn’t the most luxurious or intimate Ritz-Carlton, but for that matter it was also reasonably priced compared to some other properties. It has the distinction of being the first Ritz-Carlton resort outside the United States, as it opened back in 1993, and the hotel was last renovated in 2015.

While Cancun is popular with Americans, the destination has seen an increase in crime in recent months, which has made some people more cautious about visiting (though personally I’d still feel really safe traveling there).

Ritz-Carlton Cancun resort view

The new Kempinski Hotel Cancun

It has now been confirmed that the Ritz-Carlton Cancun will be rebranded as the Kempinski Cancun:

  • As of September 2022, the hotel will be rebranded as Grand Hotel Cancun, which is an interim name until the full rebranding is complete
  • As of late 2022 (after roughly three months), the hotel will be rebranded as Kempinski Hotel Cancun, after the “Kempinski DNA” is introduced to the hotel

Here’s how Bernold Schroeder, CEO of Kempinski Group, describes the rebranded property:

“To strengthen the North American territory and to extend our footprint in this crucial market is an outstanding opportunity for Kempinski. Cancun is a top vacation destination for guests from The Americas, who also make up a good proportion of our guests in the rest of the world as well as for Europeans. During a three-month transitional period, we will ensure that we implement our Kempinski DNA in the operation of this outstanding beach hotel and that we extend our brand recognition by delivering the impeccable service and quality Kempinski is renowned for.”

I’ve gotta say, that rebranding is a bit surprising to me. For context, Kempinski is a European luxury hotel group based in Switzerland, with nearly 80 properties around the globe. The brand is by far the strongest in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, as it’s especially popular with European travelers.

So in that sense I find the expansion to Cancun to be curious:

  • There are a not-insignificant number of Europeans who travel to Cancun (there are definitely many nicer places closer to home for Europeans, but admittedly the seasons differ)
  • At the same time, Cancun is most popular with people from the United States, and Kempinski has fairly little brand presence and recognition here; currently the brand’s only properties in the Americas are in Cuba and Dominica

Presumably Kempinski is hoping that expanding to Cancun will help the brand expand its popularity in North America, though this is also a lot of rooms to fill. I can’t help but wonder the logic of the hotel owners, though. Does Kempinski have much lower management fees, or does the company just have a really good sales pitch to hotel owners?

Ritz-Carlton Cancun guest room

Bottom line

The Ritz-Carlton Cancun will no longer be affiliated with Marriott as of September 2022. The hotel will be managed by European hotel group Kempinski going forward. That’s an interesting choice, given Kempinski’s small presence in North America, and that Cancun is overwhelmingly visited by Americans.

I’m curious to see how this goes…

What’s your take on the Ritz-Carlton Cancun leaving Marriott and becoming a Kempinski?

Conversations (41)
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  1. Chris Guest

    I don’t get the love for this resort in here. The hotel was awful and needs to be stripped of the RC name. Go 30 mins down the road to mayakoba to the Rosewood if you want true luxury in that area.

  2. Nadia Alegre Romo Guest

    Ritz Carlton Cancún el mejor

  3. Dave Neumann Guest

    As a 29 year guest of RCC and a Marriott Ambassador member we are shocked and saddened of the loss of our home away from home, Ritz Carlton Cancun. Service, professionalism, food and quality were unimpeachable. Period. We have grown to know the GMs, Hotel Managers, FB Director, Front Desk Manager and Club Lounge Managers let alone the countless staff that remembered us by name each of our trice annual visits.

    The daughter of...

    As a 29 year guest of RCC and a Marriott Ambassador member we are shocked and saddened of the loss of our home away from home, Ritz Carlton Cancun. Service, professionalism, food and quality were unimpeachable. Period. We have grown to know the GMs, Hotel Managers, FB Director, Front Desk Manager and Club Lounge Managers let alone the countless staff that remembered us by name each of our trice annual visits.

    The daughter of the owner says this is an iconic property, yes but let’s be honest it’s primarily due to the dedication of the RCC employees to its long term customers.

    How can a successor management company compare ? We wait with high hopes but sincere caution.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      With the price of 29 years of stays at Ritz-Carlton, you could probably buy a condo and employ a butler.

  4. Interesing Guest

    With those owners, they can be happy that any serious hotel operator is taking up the challenge. A serious multimillion dollar investment has do be done in that property to get it up to par.

    1. Horrible Owners Guest

      I worked at this property years ago. The owners are disgusting people. Couldn't enter Mexico while under investigation for defrauding the Mexican government.

      It was time Marriott dropped these people. Sorry for the loyal staff though.

  5. Andy Diamond

    I'm not too pessimistic about Kempinski's plan. Firstly, the number of European visitors to Cancun is way large enough to fill the 365 rooms. There are several direct flights, usually 777 or A330, arriving from Europe every day. Secondly, a lot of people - also from America - are booking through consolidators, such as booking.com etc. According to a friend of mine who is GM at a 5 star property, this is also the case...

    I'm not too pessimistic about Kempinski's plan. Firstly, the number of European visitors to Cancun is way large enough to fill the 365 rooms. There are several direct flights, usually 777 or A330, arriving from Europe every day. Secondly, a lot of people - also from America - are booking through consolidators, such as booking.com etc. According to a friend of mine who is GM at a 5 star property, this is also the case in this segment.

    To your question why Europeans travel to Cancun. Before the pandemic, this was largely due to weather. The Mediterranean is very cold in winter, sometimes even snowy at sea level and the Canaries are o.k., but not really balmy ... so if you want really warm weather in January you have to travel either to Maldives, Zanzibar or the Carribean. The pandemic brought another argument in favor of Mexico: The virtually non existent travel restrictions. Most other destinations frequently changed the travel restrictions and you could easily end up cancelling a trip you booked many months ahead. Not so with Mexico, which represented a safe bet. This will be remembered for a while.

  6. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    I have several thoughts on this.

    As far as I know, Marriott managed the property when it was flagged Ritz-Carlton. So it's not just about paying Marriott a cut of the revenue. Marriott was also getting a significant amount of money to manage the hotel.

    There's a reason why 70% of Marriott hotels across all brands are no longer managed by Marriott. Marriott charges more money than Aimbridge and other third-party operators.

    Besides...

    I have several thoughts on this.

    As far as I know, Marriott managed the property when it was flagged Ritz-Carlton. So it's not just about paying Marriott a cut of the revenue. Marriott was also getting a significant amount of money to manage the hotel.

    There's a reason why 70% of Marriott hotels across all brands are no longer managed by Marriott. Marriott charges more money than Aimbridge and other third-party operators.

    Besides probably requiring the owner to renovate, which maybe the owner refused to do because maybe the owner likes the present design aesthetic, Marriott may have refused to allow the owner to directly manage or hire a third-party to directly manage the property. Outside the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago and one or two Ritz-Carlton properties in Southeast Asia, I believe every other Ritz-Carlton is managed by Marriott. That's probably a line in the sand for them.

    Does Kempinski manage its properties? If not, I imagine Kempinski is significantly cheaper because the owner doesn't have Bonvoy costs and may not have expensive management contracts.

    Separately, don't forget that several Marriott owners have claimed that their properties have been diluted by Marriott's rapid expansion since the acquisition of Starwood. Weren't there a couple lawsuits over this? Several properties have left Marriott. I heard other properties got restructured agreements with Marriott as a condition of staying in Marriott. They apparently had contracts that gave them no-competition exclusivity within a certain geographic radius.

    I have to imagine all those new all-inclusive properties in Cancun and elsewhere have negatively impacted existing Marriott properties.

  7. Jerry Diamond

    A TON of of Europeans go to Cancun, you just don't generally see them at US Points hotels. It's certainly popular with package holiday travelers. At many resorts, Europeans far outnumber Americans. In fact, I feel like any time I've ever stayed at an all inclusive in Cancun/Riviera Maya, Americans didn't even make up a plurality of the guests.

  8. Jeff Guest

    I worked there in the late 90's and truly loved the property and living / working in Cancun. There are so many awards this property has achieved as a Ritz-Carlton, it is hard to believe that it will no longer operate with that distinction. It has been awarded AAA's Five Diamond Award multiple times, often the only property in Mexico with that honor. The fine-dining restaurant has also been awarded the same recognition. This is...

    I worked there in the late 90's and truly loved the property and living / working in Cancun. There are so many awards this property has achieved as a Ritz-Carlton, it is hard to believe that it will no longer operate with that distinction. It has been awarded AAA's Five Diamond Award multiple times, often the only property in Mexico with that honor. The fine-dining restaurant has also been awarded the same recognition. This is sad news for me and probably many past guests and employees!!

  9. JJ Guest

    We just left the Ritz Cancun. Excellent service. Kempinski is the new brand.

  10. S. Guest

    This property sits on one of the Best Beach Strips in Cancun. A classic grand dame. Beautiful! I hope a reputable brand will keep it up and running...

  11. DLL Guest

    It kills me that the market equates classic decor with “needs updating”. It’s a very special place built to last, with high-end wood trim carefully painted with oil paint, to the acres of heavy aluminum mullions on every window. It would be a travesty to see it destroyed for a hotel that Candy from DeMoines thinks is “up-to-date.”

  12. Melanie Kirk Guest

    This is terrible news.

  13. Sara Mihalovich Guest

    Oh how disappointing! We went there in June 2020 and the ladies and gentlemen were beyond gracious and inviting!! We loved eating at the lounge and the views were stunning. I’m sorry it won’t be a Ritz anymore. Slightly dated exterior that needed gentle loving but the suites we had were perfect and new. Hopefully it’ll be even better as we’d like to visit again.

  14. Grizzle Guest

    The first Ritz-Carlton to open outside the US was in Montreal in 1912.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritz-Carlton_Montreal

  15. ALM Guest

    As a 10 year veteran of Ritz-Carlton under Horst Schulze’s guidance, I opened the property as part of the executive team. It is saddening to hear what may be the outcome. It was Cancun’s true benchmark from opening and many years thereafter with an incredible team of ladies & gentlemen, many who remain at almost 29 years. I recently vacationed there having not been since my tenure 1993-1997. The service was impeccable. Cleanliness thorough. Dated,...

    As a 10 year veteran of Ritz-Carlton under Horst Schulze’s guidance, I opened the property as part of the executive team. It is saddening to hear what may be the outcome. It was Cancun’s true benchmark from opening and many years thereafter with an incredible team of ladies & gentlemen, many who remain at almost 29 years. I recently vacationed there having not been since my tenure 1993-1997. The service was impeccable. Cleanliness thorough. Dated, yes. But still a grande dame.

  16. Mag Guest

    This is one of the best hotels in cancun. The restaurants, the service, the price.. They said it looked old"".. what about the ritz at Maui, kapalua! Thats old, boring, and super expensive.

  17. iamhere Guest

    Hotels changing their affiliation happens more than you might think especially when it is at the same level. There is little that needs to be done to change it. I heard about a Le Meridien becoming a Conrad Hilton for example.

    1. Juli Guest

      Ted Cruz made a fool of himself by abandoning his state for the Ritz during the Texas freeze. I am a Republican who is saying this. That does not make a stranger whose IQ I will guess you do not know, a moron for making a joke.

    2. JS Guest

      @Juli - I am a Texan but not a republican - but I truly appreciate your light-heartedness and humor in pointing out that this was simply a joke that was made. I'm sure looking back, even Ted Cruz now realizes that it probably wasn't his smartest move. You've demonstrated that we can all point out politician's missteps (both Dems and Repubs), but not lash out in a mean-spirited way.

    3. Mantis Guest

      @Juli
      Selective outrage at it's best. I'm sure you had zero problem with your hero AOC abandoning lockdowned NYC to party on Miami beach and become a super spreader, huh? You're so disingenuous, like GOP politicians aren't allowed to vacation, but you, and Dem politicians, that's no problem? And why exactly would a GOP US senator need to be on the ground of a disaster anyway?
      That's what state officials do. You ppl...

      @Juli
      Selective outrage at it's best. I'm sure you had zero problem with your hero AOC abandoning lockdowned NYC to party on Miami beach and become a super spreader, huh? You're so disingenuous, like GOP politicians aren't allowed to vacation, but you, and Dem politicians, that's no problem? And why exactly would a GOP US senator need to be on the ground of a disaster anyway?
      That's what state officials do. You ppl care only about perception and optics, not reality.

      Here's a rule of thumb: whatever Dems accuse you of, they are guilty of it 10x over. Truly experts in projection.

  18. Bogan Guest

    Ted Cruz gave this property so much bad press, rebranding is the only option. Plus, I don’t feel like the Ritz Carlton brand fits in Cancun.

  19. Ann Guest

    That’s really said I personally love this hotel, but can understand the cost associated with staying a Marriott affiliate.

  20. JNW Guest

    Just got back from the Ritz Cancun on Thursday and we heard this being discussed. The meeting and ballroom area in the south wing were being remodeled while we were there but otherwise the same resort we have visited the past 15 years.

    Sorry to see it go since there are limited upscale options in Cancun (don't care for all-inclusive) but the JW down the beach is probably the nicer resort between the two after...

    Just got back from the Ritz Cancun on Thursday and we heard this being discussed. The meeting and ballroom area in the south wing were being remodeled while we were there but otherwise the same resort we have visited the past 15 years.

    Sorry to see it go since there are limited upscale options in Cancun (don't care for all-inclusive) but the JW down the beach is probably the nicer resort between the two after their remodel anyways.

    One thing that will be missed is the service, the hotel was tired but the service was still at Ritz standards and something you will not get at the JW or most of the other hotels in Cancun.

  21. Ray Guest

    We now go live to the Senator from Texas for his reaction…

  22. R.M. Guest

    Very sad to learn the Cancun Ritz will cease to operate as a Marriott as of September. I just vacationed there in June, and it was probably my most enjoyable stay at this specific Ritz yet. The hotel staff were the most welcoming and attentive. I loved the club level and was made to feel very welcome, family. Too sad.

  23. Jaydee56 Guest

    Sad, I had a fabulous nine days there in July and was making plans to return in December. I’ve stayed in many hotels or all brands in the last few years and this one was at the top of the list. I hope that whatever they do they keep the staff, truly exceptional people.

  24. Stuart Guest

    Four Seasons? Highly doubt, wow. No way. I've never been there but from what I've heard more like it will become a time share or cheaper all inclusive.

  25. Cole Guest

    Agree with the comments, aging hotel, but it had not one but two of the best on-site restaurants of any resort: AAA Five Diamond Fantino and The Club Grill. Given longstanding trends in hotel and resort dining, I have to assume these will close too when the property is rebranded, no? Very old school, white table cloth hotel-operated fine dining that's become kind of passé in the last 20 years, but I love them. So,...

    Agree with the comments, aging hotel, but it had not one but two of the best on-site restaurants of any resort: AAA Five Diamond Fantino and The Club Grill. Given longstanding trends in hotel and resort dining, I have to assume these will close too when the property is rebranded, no? Very old school, white table cloth hotel-operated fine dining that's become kind of passé in the last 20 years, but I love them. So, I'll mourn this rebranding just for the likely closure of these restaurants.

    1. Phil Guest

      The restaurants will remain as the owner has branding / name rights to all restaurants on the property. I’m here now and from what I’m told Marriott wanted things the owner did not agree with and the brand was taken from the hotel.

  26. Andrew Guest

    I laughed out loud when I saw “Four Seasons” - wow. 0.0% chance.

  27. John Guest

    The hotel was asked to make changes they didn’t want to make and the hotel will re brand to a different name as of September first. This property needs a major renovation. It’s not a 5 star property in terms of the rooms and the hotel grounds themselves. The staff make it a 5 star location in my opinion but on my last stay things had already begun to change and not for the better....

    The hotel was asked to make changes they didn’t want to make and the hotel will re brand to a different name as of September first. This property needs a major renovation. It’s not a 5 star property in terms of the rooms and the hotel grounds themselves. The staff make it a 5 star location in my opinion but on my last stay things had already begun to change and not for the better. I’ve stayed at this property for well over 15 years multiple times a year. Sadly I foresee it going downhill quickly. The only great thing is the location but the hotel needs major renovations.

  28. Adam Guest

    Agreed. I stayed at this property several years ago and it doesnt fit the brand standard for a Ritz, it was tired and had nothing "luxury" about it other than the name. I would expect most people who would pay Ritz prices wouldnt go to Cancun either. No way this place turns into a Four Season.

  29. Steve Diamond

    Just dont see the use for a JW or Ritz in cancun. Too many nice and suprisingly premium all-inclusives in cancun. Feel like the usually Ritz fan would prefer cabo to cancun anyways.

    1. Vimatravel Guest

      St Regis opening in Riviera Maya 12/22 Names are meaningless

  30. Erica T Guest

    I've stayed at both the RC and JW Cancun in the past two years. I thought the JW was much nicer. The RC is decorated in the common spaces like a Trump fantasy from the 90s. I'd be very surprised if it goes up market.

  31. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    It's not just that they're leaving Ritz-Carlton, but Marriott is losing a highly profitable management agreement. Almost all Ritz-Carltons are managed by Marriott. It's one of the few brands that Marriott still operates directly hence why there is generally pretty good consistency. In practice, I didn't find any difference between the Ritz-Carlton and the JW Marriott in Cancun to justify any price difference. I also wonder whether all these new all-inclusive properties are hurting the...

    It's not just that they're leaving Ritz-Carlton, but Marriott is losing a highly profitable management agreement. Almost all Ritz-Carltons are managed by Marriott. It's one of the few brands that Marriott still operates directly hence why there is generally pretty good consistency. In practice, I didn't find any difference between the Ritz-Carlton and the JW Marriott in Cancun to justify any price difference. I also wonder whether all these new all-inclusive properties are hurting the legacy Marriott properties.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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DLL Guest

It kills me that the market equates classic decor with “needs updating”. It’s a very special place built to last, with high-end wood trim carefully painted with oil paint, to the acres of heavy aluminum mullions on every window. It would be a travesty to see it destroyed for a hotel that Candy from DeMoines thinks is “up-to-date.”

2
ALM Guest

As a 10 year veteran of Ritz-Carlton under Horst Schulze’s guidance, I opened the property as part of the executive team. It is saddening to hear what may be the outcome. It was Cancun’s true benchmark from opening and many years thereafter with an incredible team of ladies & gentlemen, many who remain at almost 29 years. I recently vacationed there having not been since my tenure 1993-1997. The service was impeccable. Cleanliness thorough. Dated, yes. But still a grande dame.

2
Cole Guest

Agree with the comments, aging hotel, but it had not one but two of the best on-site restaurants of any resort: AAA Five Diamond Fantino and The Club Grill. Given longstanding trends in hotel and resort dining, I have to assume these will close too when the property is rebranded, no? Very old school, white table cloth hotel-operated fine dining that's become kind of passé in the last 20 years, but I love them. So, I'll mourn this rebranding just for the likely closure of these restaurants.

2
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