Oh, it’s “our people,” says Anguilla’s director of tourism Stacey Liburd. “It’s the locals who make Anguilla such a unique destination.” We recently sat down with Liburd, who took the helm this past January, to chat about what makes Anguilla so appealing to clients across the board; the destination’s new entry requirements; and why travel advisors are key in this new travel landscape.
Anguilla’s recent acceptance into Virtuoso “is great,” says Liburd, “because while we have five properties on island that are Virtuoso, we wanted more people in the destination to benefit from that partnership.” But, stresses Liburd, Anguilla isn’t only for your ultra-luxury clients. She says travel advisors have to think outside the proverbial Anguilla box. Yes, the island is home to exquisite resorts such as Belmond Cap Juluca; Four Seasons; Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort; Zemi Beach House; Tranquility Beach, which opened January 2020 on Meads Bay, and the soon-to-open Aurora Anguilla Resort, but, she says, “we want advisors to know that we have amazing mid-market properties as well as the small and intimate Charming Escapes Collection properties.”
Also important is the island’s range of villa accommodations. “I think villas are key for the multigenerational families,” she says. “If you have families that are traveling together—it’s not just parents, grandparents, kids, it’s also two families that have traditionally traveled together—most of those clients prefer to stay in a villa because they can all stay together. So, what services come with a villa? Private chef, on-property spa services, provisioning if they decide to self-serve. Our villas can almost operate as a small resort, because they have the butler, the concierge, property manager, a chef, someone who does all the shopping for you.”
The average stay on island is seven days—Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday—and there are plenty of activities to keep your clients busy from morning to night. Liburd says that Anguilla is ideal for every one of your clients—from the aforementioned multigenerational group to those who enjoy gastronomy, as well as active travelers or honeymooners, for destination weddings (she notes many wedding groups are opting for complete resort buyouts) and even some simple R&R.
She says that some of the top things to do in Anguilla, which is known for its 33 powder-white beaches, is visiting one of the offshore cays—of which Scrub Island is the largest and three of which have restaurants. “You can dine on true fresh sea-to-plate cuisine, whether it’s fish, lobster or crayfish. Also, rent an ATV and explore the island. We are only 35 sq. miles, so you can go east to west in 35 minutes. Along the way you can stop at a museum, a beach, a restaurant, and remember I mentioned that one of our greatest assets is our people, so you can stop along the way and have a chat with a local and next thing you know, you’re chatting with someone who is sharing the history of Anguilla. Plan for an excursion by boat—go around the island, stop off at offshore cay, do some watersports, some snorkeling, Anguilla has fantastic dive spots.”
New Direct Air from Miami
Breaking news is that Anguilla will welcome new American Airlines service from Miami starting Dec. 11, 2021. That’s huge news, given that it’s always been a little tricky getting to Anguilla, although flying into St. Maarten from the U.S. and taking a ferry to paradisiacal Anguilla does paint like a dream. As Liburd says, “it’s a lovely way to start off one’s vacation.”
That said, many of your clients will opt for the AA direct flights, which will operate year-round, twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Flights will depart MIA at 10:50 a.m., arriving at AXA at 2:49 p.m. The return flight will depart AXA at 3:40 p.m., arriving at MIA at 5:53 p.m.. Flights will be available for sale starting on July 26, 2021.
On the first of July, entry into Anguilla—which has remained extremely safe this past year-and-a-half—changed to allow those who are fully vaccinated onto the island. Your clients will also have to do a PCR test three to five days prior to heading to Anguilla and then they’ll be tested again upon arrival. And, adds Liburd, “there’s no insurance, no fee, no quarantine. You’re essentially free to roam the island.” Those under 18 or who are pregnant do not need to be vaccinated.
Travel Advisors—Relationship is Key
“Travel advisors are more important than ever,” Liburd says. I find that travelers—because there are so many rules right now—are relying on travel advisors. That relationship is key right now. Travel advisors also help us to understand what the visitor profile looks like, what trends they’re seeing and what their clients are looking for so we can adapt.”
For more information on Anguilla, visit ivisitanguilla.com.