If you want to know what’s selling like hotcakes in the Caribbean, the best people to ask would be executives at leading tour packagers that offer scores of destinations and hotels to a wide array of North American markets. So we did exactly that:
Eric Fandek, Senior Director
of Product Development
There are several hotels and destinations in extremely high demand, including the following: In Punta Cana, Barcelo Bavaro Palace. The high demand for this destination and hotel can be attributed to the overall Delta Vacations package value. Delta Vacations customers get to reap the benefits of our All-Inclusive PLUS program with an extensive variety of amenities that appeal to the whole group. Moreover, Punta Cana is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, with pristine, white-sand beaches and a picturesque landscape. Barcelo Bavaro Palace offers an array of onsite watersports and tours of botanical gardens and nearby Catalina and Saona islands. Guests can enjoy authentic regional cuisine and any of nine a la carte restaurants.
Also in Punta Cana, RIU Republica. This adults-only hotel, conveniently located on the Arena Gorda Beach, recently added a water park to its list of fulfilled amenities. The hotel features daily and nightly entertainment, and a plethora of activities such as volleyball, windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking and group fitness classes. Clients can check out the gourmet cuisine from the nine restaurants or take it to the beach for a romantic picnic with their sweetheart.
In Nassau-Paradise Island, the opening of luxurious Baha Mar paired with the enhancements at RIU Palace Paradise Island makes this a vacationer’s dream. In addition, the picture-perfect beaches and luxurious hotels at Atlantis Paradise Island have created a lot of buzz and great demand for this alluring destination.
John Van den Heuvel, President
Excellence Oyster Bay is performing extremely well for us. It’s a new hotel in Jamaica in a place where there have not been many new builds lately. This is a beautiful property with fabulous service, in keeping with Excellence’s reputation.
Baha Mar is changing the Bahamas by bringing in a new upscale product that the islands haven’t seen for a while. Our customers are loving the Rosewood Baha Mar and Grand Hyatt Baha Mar five-star options. Atlantis Paradise Island continues to be strong, too.
We are very excited about the new Hilton La Romana coming into our portfolio. The Hilton and the Playa Hotels & Resorts relationship brings a new customer base of loyal Hilton patrons who will be experiencing an all-inclusive product for the first time. Playa and Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ expansion in the Cap Cana space with its El Dorado brand and Ziva and Zilara—in addition to the existing Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa and Sanctuary Cap Cana—are putting a much deserving Cap Cana on the map. This is a fantastic part of the Dominican Republic, and the product matches perfectly with what our travel agent partners are looking for.
The opening of Zoëtry Montego Bay last October was a fantastic addition of a unique boutique option for the destination. Our travel partners have gotten very positive feedback from customers who have traveled there, and we are confident that the momentum will continue to build, as it has for the past 12 months.
Jack Richards, President and CEO
Our top destinations are Aruba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Each is stunningly beautiful with amazing beaches, turquoise waters and that magical, welcoming ambience that draws travelers to the Caribbean. Each offers options that range from intimate, tranquil retreats ideal for honeymoons and quiet family escapes to vibrant destinations with plenty of nightlife and activities to suit all ages and interests. Airline seat capacity to all three has increased and remained steady, making it easy and affordable for U.S. travelers to access these islands from gateways across the nation. There have also been major investments to improve infrastructure, including new highways that ease transfers from the airports to the resorts.
The hotels in each of these destinations have worked to provide amenities that draw U.S. travelers: spacious rooms with marble baths and deep-soak tubs as well as other creature comforts, and tech enhancements such as WiFi and convenient USB charging stations. Many resorts are incorporating smart devices such as onsite smart phones so that guests can text their butler for assistance, or tech tablets that serve as personal concierges. Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa in the Dominican Republic is one example.
We are seeing more of a trend toward hotel brand loyalty. Travelers who enjoyed their stay at a particular brand in one destination are likely to request that same brand in a new destination. Brands that are currently hot with Pleasant Holidays travelers include AMResorts, Excellence Group, Playa Hotels & Resorts, Sandals & Beaches Resorts, Blue Diamond Resorts and RIU Hotels. Each of them has dialed into the American traveler, providing adults-only, family-friendly, and all-inclusive options ranging from indulgent luxury to budget-friendly resorts that offer many amenities for a great value.
Scott Wiseman, President
Saint Lucia and the Dominican Republic continue to perform extremely well. Regarding the former, many travelers are willing to overlook the highest airfare cost in the Caribbean for Saint Lucia’s romance and for new entries like Royalton Saint Lucia and Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia. In Punta Cana, we’re seeing high demand for the newly rebranded TRS Turquesa by Palladium and the Grand Palladium Resorts. Compelling pricing combined with extensive renovations have made these big sellers for winter 2019! Attractive pricing at the Grand Bahia Principe and Luxury Bahia Principe Resorts—specifically, Fantasia Bahia Principe Resort—are also drawing travelers. Offering family-friendly and adults-only options, this brand’s a good fit for a range of clientele.
Nassau Paradise Island is right behind, thanks to better volume with Grand Hyatt Baha Mar and SLS Baha Mar, plus RIU Palace Paradise Island’s decision to transition to adults-only. And Aruba will always be a solid performer, with its wide range of EP and AI hotels and its location outside of the hurricane belt. A tough 2017 storm season further solidified it as a reliable island to book. That said, we’ve experienced a lot of growth across the Caribbean region-wide, including double-digit year-over-year increases in bookings to Barbados, Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica, and Turks and Caicos.
Couples Resorts in Jamaica continues to sell well to brand loyalists and those who want a great value and a warm, authentic home away from home. Also on this island, brands that are popular in Mexico have brought over many of their fans. RIU Reggae and RIU Negril are gaining momentum, as is Azul Beach Resort in Negril. We’ve seen an exponential surge in bookings for Montego Bay’s Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St. James, both of which have benefitted from the appeal of their new neighbor, Breathless. The Iberostar Grands are thriving there, too.