So many good things are happening in Saint Lucia that Tiffany Howard, acting CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA), couldn’t really mention them all at the annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Marketplace, held Jan. 30-31 in Jamaica. Here are some highlights you should know about:
- Lucia received 1,218,000 visitors in 2018, a 10 percent increase over 2017. Much of this leap was due to cruise ship and yacht-borne visitors, so actual stayovers rose by 2.2 percent—but from the U.S., a robust 4.1 percent.
- As mentioned, yachting has expanded in Saint Lucia, so Sunsail has added new, fully-outfitted, four-cabin (plus a skipper’s cabin) Lagoon 42s to its fleet there.
- The island has named 2019 The Year of Experiences, and it’s backing this theme up with new activities, enhanced festivals, a lot of chocolate. (No Johnny-come-lately’s, Lucians have grown and eaten cacao for centuries, and their homeland is a foodie paradise.)
- One example of how Saint Lucia is ratcheting up its menu of experiences: For the first time ever, Jazz at Lincoln Center is collaborating with a jazz festival in another country, and that country is Saint Lucia. The Saint Lucia Jazz Fest (May 5-12) will feature Christian McBride, Ledisi, Etienne Charles, Gregory Porter, Dianne Reeves, and members of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. My point? Unlike many other jazz fests, this one features real jazz, not just pop music, and these artists are stars.
- In celebration of its 40th anniversary of independence, SLTA launches a new website Feb. 4, and it’s not only interactive but also features virtual reality. “From your desk, you can walk along the beach…or climb the Pitons,” said Howard. In addition, there’s a 40 percent discount at quite a few island hotels for travel agents who book through Feb. 22. The Saint Lucia Tourist Board might extend that deadline, but meanwhile, carpe diem.
- The all-inclusive BodyHoliday has unveiled substantial upgrades to mark its own anniversary: number 30. The renovations feature redesigned rooms (including its singular single-occupancy rooms), restaurants, and its wellness program, famed for including an unmatched array of classes, activities, and daily spa treatments.
- On the subject of wellness, insomnia has reached epidemic proportions, so Cap Maison Resort & Spa has introduced a new ‘Sleep Retreat’ for guests to unwind and learn the art of a perfect night’s sleep.
- The bottom line: This is a great time to “let her inspire you.” Yes, “her.” This is the only country in the world named after a woman.