Here are the takeaways—in “short-hand style”—from the Caribbean Travel Marketplace that took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico a couple of weeks back.
• According to data from STR, Inc., Caribbean hotels, during 2014, experienced a 1.5-percent increase in occupancy to 68 percent; average daily rate was up 6.4 percent to $194.66; and revenue per available room rose 8 percent to $132.28.
• In terms of hotel occupancy, 2014 “ended with a bang for the region,” according to STR, Inc.; the Caribbean posted its largest increase of the year during December (+5.3 percent).
• Most noteworthy from the data collected—and something you should be experiencing desk-side—is that demand in the Caribbean increased 2.4 percent; revenue jumped 8.9 percent and supply grew .8 percent.
• With demand for the Caribbean on the rise, it’s no surprise hotels are popping up all over the region. For example, in San Juan, the 360-room Condado Vanderbilt (condadovanderbilt.com) opened its doors this past December for its soft opening. It will be in full swing mode come March 31. The Condado Vanderbilt, which originally opened as a hotel back in the early 20th century and went through several transformations until re-opening this past year, offers 127 suites with 24-hour butler service, as well as a spa with a hammam experience. There was another December debut, this time in Tobago, with the opening of Chic (chictobago.com), an intimate, 40-bedroom property located only three minutes from A.N.R. Robinson International Airport. In Nevis, meanwhile, the Paradise Beach Nevis (paradisebeachnevis.com) opened in January and offers 3- and 4-bedroom villas. According to GM Steve Tyson, it’s the only villa resort on the island, and will offer travel agents 15 percent commission. On hand will be butler service, massages, hikes and, if clients desire, private chefs who cook up a feast in the villa’s kitchen. Tyson points out that each of the bedrooms within the villa are “totally private; almost like a hotel room,” making it ideal for groups, families, or couples. It’s also great, he notes, for destination weddings.
• Over in Anguilla, the Malliouhana Hotel & Spa (malliouhana.aubergeresorts.com) re-opened its doors in November after a 3-year closure and restoration by Auberge Resorts. The 55-room resort has two beaches and a 15,000-sq.-ft. spa. Sandals, too, is helping fill the demand for more inventory in the Caribbean with the January opening of the 280-room Sandals Barbados (sandals.com), with 11 restaurants and Love Nest Suites. This month, the Marriott Port-au-Prince Hotel (marriott.com) opens its doors in Haiti. Located seven miles from the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, the pet-friendly hotel will offer 175 guestrooms. The Rosewood at Baha Mar (rosewoodhotels.com), which is set to open this spring, will have 185 beach-view rooms and suites as well as beachfront villas. The resort will also feature four dining venues, a Sense spa and salon, and private pool and beach access.
• Meanwhile, Saint Lucia’s 124-room (with 57 suites) Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina (capellahotels.com/saintlucia) welcomed its first guests this past December following a multi-million dollar renovation. The 25-cottage Pink Sands Resort (pinksandsresort.com), located on Bahamas’ Out Islands, is “upping its game,” according to GM Christopher Pollock and will be undergoing “serious renovations” this coming year. Additionally, the resort has a new culinary director, which means a new menu that Pollock calls “modern Bahamian.” What’s unique about this property, says Pollock, is that not one building is the same as the other. Pollock recommends guests take the 2.5-hour ferry ride from Nassau to the resort as it offers gorgeous views along the way.
• It’s festival time in the Caribbean with the Tobago Jazz Experience (tobagojazzexperience.com) taking place April 18-26 and bringing headliners such as Jennifer Hudson; the Saborea Puerto Rico (saboreapuertorico.com), also in April, with the “Culinary Extravaganza” taking place at San Juan’s Escambron Beach and featuring a Tasting Pavilion and Demo Kitchens; and the Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival (soulbeach.net) held May 20-25.
• To celebrate Puerto Rico as host of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Delta Vacations is offering exclusive savings on hotel rates, complimentary nights and resort credits at many of the island’s top hotels and resorts. No promotional code needed, but you need to hurry because booking must be made by Feb. 28 for travel through May 31, 2015. For more information, click here.
• Delta Vacations also put together a list of the 10 fastest-growing commissionable activities in the Caribbean. The list includes the Aruba Sightseeing Tour; the Rain Forest Eco-Tour (half-day) in San Juan; the Martha Brae River Rafting in Montego Bay; the Saona Island Basic Catamaran in Punta Cana; and the Balmoral Island Dolphin Swim and Beach Day in Nassau. For more information, visit worldagentdirect.com.