Nancy Finn of My Island Getaways is so fond of Saint Lucia that she named her chocolate lab Lucia, after the island. “I love everything about Saint Lucia,” said Finn, the recipient of this year’s Global Piton Chairman’s Award from the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA), in recognition of exceptional U.S. sales performance for highest room nights sold in 2022. She is one of 15 Global Piton Award winners from the U.S., plus 5 from Canada and 5 from the Caribbean. The winners were celebrated at a 3-day event at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, culminating in a gala awards presentation on September 30.
“These awards are a fundamental part of our sales and marketing mix, because travel advisors are such an important distribution channel for us,” Richard Moss, Senior Sales Manager, SLTA, told Recommend in an on-site interview. “We listen to our travel advisors and are constantly initiating new tools to stay current. We always recommend the services of a travel professional because we believe in what they do. Advisors have credibility with their clients and if we can be there to support them, it’s a synergistic relationship.” As well, while Saint Lucia has won awards as a honeymoon and adventure destination, “it takes an expert to unpack everything that’s special,” said Moss. Clients, he said, rely on their advisors to learn about all the island has to offer.
The group got a snapshot of what Saint Lucia has to offer during two days of immersive activities. On day one, they set out in teams on open-air jeeps for a scavenger hunt in less-traveled parts of the lush island, in search of everything from school kids to bunches of plantain and from a local pigeon peas tree to a ripe green guava. They ended up at a beautiful nature center for local entertainment and lunch. “Our agency wins our fair share of recognition awards, but this one is my absolute favorite,” said Tom Varghese of Travel Tom. “I love the fact that the SLTA takes the time to recognize top performers with not only an awards event, but also with immersive cultural experiences for us to enjoy—and then discuss with and promote to our clients!”
Day two was a catamaran sail to Soufriere near the famous Piton spires on the island’s west coast. The group enjoyed lunch at the lovely Ladera resort and chocolate treats at Rabot Hotel from Hotel Choocolat. “Many of my clients from the east coast choose Saint Lucia as a destination wedding alternative to Hawaii,” said Georgiann Jawordky of TC Custom Travel Services Inc., a first-time Global Piton Awards winner, speaking about the island’s lush beauty and romantic appeal. “I’ve been trying to qualify for a Piton award for 8 years and it finally happened. It was worth the wait.”
A glittering, Hollywood-style gala awards dinner at Sandals Grande St. Lucian capped the event, with winners walking down a red carpet to receive their trophy’s. “We are committed to travel advisors,” said Lorine Charles-St. Jules, CEO, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, in opening remarks. She noted that advisors are responsible for more than 50 percent of tourism business on the island. “Travel advisors mean more to us than words can say,” she continued. “We salute you and say thank you from the country of Saint Lucia.”
And The U.S. Global Piton Award Winners Are. . .
- Linda Dancer, Honeymoons Inc.
- Tom Varghese, Travel Tom
- Mark Hennigan, Dreamers Travel
- Nancy Finn, Island Getaways
- Jennifer Doncsecz, VIP Vacations
- Vicki Sneed, Vicki’s Travel Designs
- Linda Neuman, Travels With Lynn
- Lynn Thomas, Alpha World Travel
- Heather DiPietro, TravelSalesGroup and She’s the World
- Georgiann Jaworskyj, CTC Custom Travel Services Inc.
- Carolyn Waffle, Carolyn Waffle Certified Travel
- Kerri Logan Shirk, Sunlover Travel
- Sally Jane Smith, The Travel Smiths
- Steve Simmons, Honeymoons, Inc.
- Cindy McCabe, Bethany Travel/Dream Vacation, Inc.