It has been 33 years since Sandals Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart converted a failing hotel near Montego Bay Airport into the very first Sandals all-inclusive resort. Since that time, Butch has been raising the bar for Caribbean hotels with each new property he has opened, and the recently opened Sandals LaSource in Grenada is his crowning achievement so far. Never mind that he was able to work flawlessly with government officials to negotiate a favorable environment to renovate and expand this resort, nor the fact that the work was completed in an astounding 10-month period. And while you can’t ignore the fact that Grenada’s leading hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkins of Spice Island Resort was the biggest island advocate, what is truly amazing is the resort itself. Sandals has been raising the bar with each of their new resorts, yet it is hard to imagine what could possibly be done in future resorts to improve upon this one.
Organized by Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014 was a resounding success at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The largest marketing event in the region attracted 1,246 delegates including buyers from twenty countries, tour operators, wholesalers, hoteliers, airline representatives and government officials. “We were especially pleased with the high level of optimism and enthusiasm this year,” said Richard Doumeng, president of CHTA. “This is a clear indication that interest is definitely increasing in the region.”
Honored as Hotelier of the Year, George Markantonis, managing director at Atlantis Paradise Island, was recognized for his commitment to staff training and implementation of sound environmental practices. The 34th recipient of the prestigious award, the industry veteran is also responsible for the One & Only Palmilla in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and the One & Only Ocean Club in The Bahamas. For more information please visit www.caribbeanhotelassociation.com
One is a shopper’s paradise, the other one is a myriad of sugar mills and heritage trails, and the third one is a national park with few of the distractions of the other two. Delightfully distinct, the trio that are the US Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John - are easy getaways with plenty of flights from the mainland and reliably warm weather all year round. “For repeat visitors, the trio each have their own personality with an abundance of new things to discover,“ said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism.“St. Thomas has new water-based adventure experiences, St. Croix Food and Wine Experience will debut a golf tournament allowing gourmands to blend another passion into their visit, and the Westin Resort on St. John will receive a face lift this year due for completion in the fall.”
With no shortage of ritzy resorts, splendid beaches, duty-free shopping, lively bars and Mother Nature Unplugged, Virgin Island Hotel Tourism Association is encouraging agent visits with a travel agent month in September that includes complimentary 3-night stays at participating hotels and resorts. Called the “immersion program,” it also offers discounted and gratis activities and excursions. The complete list is online beginning April 1. www.visitusvi.com
Most Americans have heard of the Panama Canal and in fact, it will be on most travel agents’ clients’ bucket lists, however, according to Guillaume de Vaudrey, owner of Cosmopolis Travel, there are a number of other things to do in Panama that should not go unnoticed.
The history of Panama is fascinating, it was a province of Columbia until the beginning of the 20th century and de Vaudrey says, “The culture there is very cosmopolitan. The main influence is Spanish, but also seen there today is a strong diversity of cultures from around the world.”
It was at the time when the Spaniards first arrived in Isthmus that building a route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was first conceived. And then, the work on the Panama Canal began.
It’s not surprising that Turkey scores high on everyone’s list of favorite destinations. Istanbul always dazzles; that’s a given. Its unique combination of mystical ancient city and fashionable, modern metropolis wows honeymooners as well as all lovers of fascinating, exotic locales. Add on a visit to Cappadocia with its fairy chimneys and underground cities plus a jaunt to Bodrum’s seaside with its famed yachts and beaches. You’ll have an itinerary guaranteed to satisfy even your most discerning client’s palate.
The Black Forest is among Germany’s most iconic regions, and its name alone will conjure up images of cuckoo clocks, quaint villages and the legendary Black Forest cherry cake in your clients’ minds. But there’s a lot more to Baden-Württemberg: urbane and sophisticated Stuttgart with its lavish palaces and magnificent museums, elegant Baden-Baden’s spas, a sports-filled lake district and celebrated wine towns.
Rich in mineral water springs, Poland is a magnificent place for relaxation because of its numerous spa and wellness centers. Many of them are located in very picturesque surroundings, and they all provide high quality service. The treatment on offer is designed to bring relaxation, harmony and inner balance to clients.
There are many underground hot water springs in Poland: they can be found in three-quarters of Poland’s whole area. Poles appreciate the advantages coming from the construction of spa and wellness centers, as many towns are planning to design and build spas around their hot mineral water springs. The first historical mentions of hot water springs name villages in the Karkonosze Mountains, in southwest Poland, called Lower Silesia, such as Cieplice Slaskie (1137) and Ladek Zdrój (1241). In the 17th century, Polish Queen Marysienka, wife of John III Sobieski took baths there, and the radon water baths are said to have brought relief and warmth to the aching bones of the German Emperor, Wilhelm I.
Canada has it all -- magnificent craggy mountains, vast plains, stunning seashores and vibrant cities. And it is a lot easier to get to than Europe. For rail fans it offers one more attraction: great train routes that span the continent from Nova Scotia
The VIA Rail system is the perfect way for clients to explore the beauty of our northern neighbor. Most trains operate year-round, offering different experiences in all seasons. Most of the trains include panorama and dome cars for maximum viewing.
Because of its enormity and the diversity of its terrain, infrastructure and culture, travel to India can be an immensely rewarding experience for travelers, and a daunting one for travel planners. Despite its massive appeal, most travelers are not likely to book India on their own, which gives travel agents an incredible opportunity to assist them.
Mimi Campbell, a travel agent with Santa Barbara Travel Bureau has been to India only once, but that was enough for her to come away with a true appreciation for its vibrancy and the warmth of its people. “No matter what,” she says, “your clients are going to have an adventure and see and experience the real culture.” Campbell believes that India is a place for any traveler “who wants to see something out of his comfort zone and out of this world,” noting that her clients come back blown away, with stories of people who fed and cared for them, of spiritual awakenings and desires manifested as if by serendipity. Expect that not everything will go as planned, but know that this unpredictability and the good fortune that often follows is what “will ultimately be the things that travelers remember most.”
We all know it’s pretty tricky to sell the Middle East to a first-time visitor, and with all the unrest happening in the region, it’s harder than ever. There’s one country, however, that has maintained a sense of normalcy, a country that consistently delivers a unique Middle Eastern experience while simultaneously offering a comfortable and safe stay. That country is Jordan. But how to effectively sell this destination? Well, if you look at the facts it’s pretty simple. Jordan is a U.S. ally and possesses a western attitude, blended together with Middle Eastern tradition. Additionally, with English as their second language, maneuvering around the country is quite easy. Its biggest selling point, besides being home to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, is it’s place in biblical history. And if you look at the numbers of other countries visiting there, it’s even easier to sell. The Jordan Tourist Board announced a growth of 20 percent in UK visitor numbers in August 2013 - a record number of visitors for that month. Jordan welcomed 5,707 UK tourists to the country in the month of August 2013 alone, compared to 4,754 during the same month in the previous year.