The Radisson Blu line of upscale hotels is moving into Latin America, where parent company Carlson sees strong opportunities for growth.
At an industry trade show this weekend, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced three new Blus in Colombia and Chile, including two upscale resorts — the first of several planned across the region.
Future expansion plans call for the development of Blus in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Mexico.
The Carlson hotel group already has more than 50 core Radisson properties up and running or under development in the region.
"We have a long history and strong presence in Latin America. It's always been an important area for us," said Javier Rosenberg, chief operating officer for Carlson Rezidor. "We now have the opportunity of going with the Blu brand in the region."
Rosenberg said the hotel group recently opened an office in Miami dedicated to the Latin American market and beefed up resources to support existing and new Carlson Rezidor hotels there.
He also said Carlson would be announcing Latin American locations for its new millennial-oriented Radisson Red chain by the end of the year and would be expanding its Park Inn presence.
"It's a very exciting region," Rosenberg said in an interview. "Travel is expanding in that part of the world. There are more airlines, more direct service, and we want to be in a strong position."
One of the Blu projects is the conversion of an existing Radisson in Santiago, Chile. The other two will be newly constructed resorts on the Colombian island of San Andres and in Santa Marta, Colombia.
Rosenberg said government tax incentives for tourism-related projects made it very attractive to build new hotels in Colombia with local developers.
The Radisson Blu brand was created in 2009 when Carlson changed the name of its largely upscale Radisson SAS in Europe, Africa and Asia to Radisson Blu.
Carlson introduced the Blu concept in North America in 2011 with one in Chicago, two in the Twin Cities and a fourth in Philadelphia.
There are more than 280 properties in the Blu chain in 62 countries.
David Phelps • 612-673-7269