With Jamaica preparing to host the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) and Grenada fulfilling chocolate-lovers’ dreams, what else was there to learn from the Caribbean Tourism Organizations’ Caribbean Week in New York? Plenty, so this is just the tip of the, uh, iceberg? In the Caribbean?
The new Anguilla App offers substantial deals and other information, and Seaborne Airlines is increasing service from SJU to five days a week. Next up in Anguilla’s hotel boom: Quintessence Boutique Hotel, opening November with nine posh suites and a gym, spa, restaurant, breakfast gazebo, lounge, wine cellar, and art gallery.
Antigua & Barbuda
Curtain Bluff is putting six months and $13 million into renovating public spaces and has upgraded its Hulford Collection suites, and a new beach concierge is on hand to supply anything and everything. Upmarket Hodges Bay opens in September, and the Waldorf Astoria Antigua and Coconut Beach Resort by Marriott Autograph Collection will open late 2019. Meanwhile, Barbuda is being developed as a totally green island, and that includes Robert De Niro’s Paradise Found. Also note: Seaborne resumes SJU-ANU flights on July 21.
Nassau-Paradise Island, in particular, is booming. This winter the Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas opened and Courtyard Marriott Nassau Downtown/Junkanoo Beach debuted renovated rooms, Melia Cable Beach (shown above) unveiled a $19 million renovation, One&Only Beach Resort debuted renovations that included enlarging rooms in The Hartford Wing, and Grand Hyatt Baha Mar finally opened this spring. In July the renovated Coral at Atlantis will open, a transformed Marina Village debuts this fall, and Howard C. Karawan, president and managing director of Atlantis, Paradise Island, is introducing Bahamian cultural experiences. Meanwhile, in downtown Nassau, work progresses on The Pointe complex.
Sure, new hotels are sprouting (e.g. Sandals Royal Barbados will open Dec. 20) and others are being renovated, but Barbados announced more than hotel news. For example, Nikki Beach Barbados will open later this year, and arrivals from the U.S. are up 20 percent in 2017.
The fact that this is the “Year of Sport” in Barbados may have helped that growth. It’s part of a 3-year program aimed at “establishing Barbados as the number one sporting destination in the Caribbean,” said Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc., CEO William “Billy” Griffith. Upcoming YOS events include the Barbados Beach Wellness Festival (Sept. 2-3), the Barbados Festival of Cycling (both road biking and mountain biking, Sept. 9-10), the Barbados Open Club Championship (an October showcase for some of the best courses in the Caribbean), and the Dragon World Championships, an international competition in stand up paddleboarding, or SUP (Oct. 28-30).
Martinique’s First International Hiking Festival (June 1-30) is already half over, but it’s still worth a shout-out because this event exemplifies the region’s #CaribbeanAdventure theme. Beyond hiking, Martinique has one of the fastest growing arrival rates in the Caribbean, so Norwegian Airways has added nonstop flights from Providence, Rhode Island, and Fort Lauderdale. That’s in addition to the four weekly flights from JFK.
This is big: Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, the luxury brand’s first venture in the Caribbean and its first beach resort anywhere, will debut this year. The Park Hyatt is planning an exceptional kids camp, too.
Serenity Villas at Coconut Bay Resort and the Royalton Saint Lucia Resort and Spa debuted this winter, and over the next four years St. Lucia will add yet another 2,000 rooms. These include the 117-room Harbour Club (September), a five-star Fairmont Saint Lucia Resort, a Hilton and a Curio by Hilton where the Rex once stood, a two-hotel Honeymoon Bay Resort with an 18-hole golf course, the Back Bay complex, and a fourth Sandals. Eight local villages are being transformed into tourist attractions, too.
That’s a lot, but Saint Lucia is, among other things, a romantic travel hotspot, and as CTO director Hugh Riley noted, “The Caribbean is the number one wedding destination in the world.”
For more information, visit onecaribbean.org.