Next, Austin continues, “W arrives on the island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico in the second quarter of 2010 with the W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island.” Set to open in March, the W will be the first of its brand in the Caribbean, and the second “retreat” property for W. Clients can expect rooms with picture-perfect views of the sea and two private beaches, as well as W’s signature chic style in its guestrooms and restaurants.
Finally, Austin says, “Later in 2010, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico will open Oct. 1.” The St. Regis is also a milestone property, this time for Puerto Rico, which hasn’t had a brand-new luxury hotel debut on the island since 1997. After a $172 million investment, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort will comprise 139 guestrooms, as well as celebrity amenities like a Chef Jean-Georges restaurant and an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Clients can also expect St. Regis’ signature Butler Service and a full-service, world-class Remedesm Spa.
agent incentives The new luxury properties from Starwood on the way are just the beginning of the good news for agents this year. “Travel professionals will again be able to benefit from the 2010 Book and Win BIG Sweepstakes, back by popular demand,” Austin explains. “Each time a reservation is confirmed at any Starwood hotel or resort property worldwide, including our Caribbean properties, travel professionals are eligible to submit an entry into the sweepstakes. The winning travel professional will receive one million Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to redeem on travel to more than 950 hotels and resorts in 95 countries across our nine world-class brands.” The sweepstakes is also giving away five land-based vacations to any of Starwood’s 60 properties in North America, “offering travel professionals a further monthly incentive for booking Starwood,” Austin says.
As the company increases its product in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world, agent education becomes ever more important. So naturally, Austin says, “Starwood will further enhance our ProLearning curriculum in 2010. In the first quarter of 2010”—meaning right now—“Starwood’s ProLearning will shift its focus to the destinations that many of our leisure resorts call home. Our first two modules will be on the Caribbean and Hawaii,” so that even before the resorts have opened, you’ll have the chance to get the best info on what’s inside. With an “easy-to-use geographic map, travel professionals can navigate to each of the Caribbean islands where Starwood has a presence. By the end of the destination module, travel professionals will have learned the ideal story to tell potential customers assisting with closing bookings with the use of storytelling,” he explains. It’s benefits like these that make becoming one of Starwood’s more than 8,500 Starwoodpro agents rewarding and lucrative. “Benefits include gaining access to STARPRO rates, and to permit education to continue by visiting our Caribbean hotels at attractive travel professional rates,” he explains.