Hosted by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board and organized by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the much-anticipated and always well-attended Caribbean Marketplace 2013 was a spirited affair at Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island.
|Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island ( credit: M. Reffes)|
Held for the second consecutive year in the Bahamas, a first for any country that has hosted the show, the 31st annual Marketplace got off to a rousing start with performances by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band and the National Choir and speeches by Obie Wilchcombe , minister of tourism, Richard Doumeng, president, CHTA and the Hon. Perry Christie, prime minister of the Bahamas who noted “2012 will be seen as the year in which travel to our beautiful and distinct region turned around, due in large measure to the impact and success of Marketplace 2012.”
|(credit: M. Reffes )|
|(credit: M. Reffes )|
With buyers from twenty countries, the region’s largest tourism trade show is a magnet for buyers, sellers, suppliers and government officials who sealed deals during 12,476 appointments in two days.
|Raymond Francis, Exec. Director Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board|
Shavonne Darville, co-owner Gems of Paradise, President of the Board ( credit: M. Reffes )
|Jamaica Tourist Board (credit: JTB )|
Sunwing Travel Group will reopen the previous Reef Hotel in Grand Bahama as a 500-room all-inclusive Memories Resort. “ A very important part of this deal is that Sunwing will join with the Ministry of Tourism to initiate airlift out of the USA in markets where they operate under their brand Vacation Express into Grand Bahama, “said David Johnson, director general, ministry of tourism. The Memories brand has five resorts in Cuba and will be expanding to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
At the Atlantis, industry veteran Cristian Sariego has been appointed general manager of The Cove Atlantis and The Reef Atlantis in Paradise Island. Upcoming at the 3970-room resort includes an expanded casino, interactive encounters with the manatees and the opening of Olives, a favorite eatery at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. “We are a multi-dimensional property with a product for every demographic, ‘said George Markantonis, president Kerzner International Bahamas, “we operate one large resort with varying price points and amenities which is why we lay claim to a twenty-three percent visitor return rate .”
|Cristian Sariego ( credit: Atlantis)|
Slated to open at the end of next year, the $3.5 billion Baha Mar Resort in Nassau’s Cable Beach will include 2,2000 new rooms in four hotel brands including the Mondrian, Grand Hyatt , Rosewood and the Baha Mar Hotel which will house the largest casino in the Caribbean. When complete, the largest complex in the Caribbean will also offer two spas, water-park, nightclub, Jack Nicklaus golf course and wedding chapel. “We are targeting Baha Mar as the Bahamas Riviera which will redefine the vacation experience, “said Robert Sands, vice president, Baha Mar. Also in the Baha Mar development are the already-operating 550-room Wyndham and 700-room Sheraton.
|Rendering Baha Mar Hotel ( credit: Baha Mar )|
For foodies, Graycliff Hotel has launched The Art of Chocolate Making at its new chocolate factory in Nassau. From roasting beans to creating artisan truffles, the one-hour tour is a must-do for the entire family and be booked either on-line or at many of the resorts in Nassau and Paradise Island. www.graycliff.com
|Graycliff Sweet Treats ( credit: Graycliff)|
Trade Floor Talk
Island Routes Caribbean Adventures launched ‘Live Funner ‘tours that takes visitors beyond the resort and into the heart of the islands. “We bring our commitment to creating opportunity and sharing the joy and excitement of our Caribbean home,” said David Shields, general manager,” by the end of the adventure, our guests feel like one of the locals.” “www.islandroutes.com
|Zip Lining Tour ( credit: Island Routes )|
Aimbridge Hospitality will open the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville on March 15. A four-star property near the capital, the hotel is the first US chain hotel to open in Haiti. The seven story 106-room hotel will have a whisky bar, spa, 24-hour security and a restaurant. “We are extremely proud of this hotel, “said Tom Osborn, regional director, North American development,” it incorporates Haitian design and art work and offers a unique experience for the business traveler, individuals and families. “
According to research released by Smith Travel Research, the Dominican Republic added 224 new rooms in 2012, the biggest number of any country in the Caribbean with Puerto Rico ranking second with 130 new rooms built last year. In the D.R., construction has started on the Westin Puntacana Resort in the Playa Blanca area near the airport. The 204 room hotel will have convention space, cigar bar, outdoor pool and a Westin Workout gym. “We are excited to be financing the construction of The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club,” Frank Rainieri, president, Grupo Puntacana , “our investment reflects our confidence in continued international demand for exceptional travel experiences in the Dominican Republic.” The five-star hotel will offer guests access to amenities within the Puntacana Resort & Club including a 45-hole golf course, Six Senses Spa, restaurants, freshwater springs, equestrian center and petting zoo as well as an array of water sports.
|Punta Cana Resort & Club and Golf Course ( below)|
(Credit: Punta Cana Resort )
In St. Maarten, The Princess Juliana Airport will undergo major improvements including runway rehabilitation, new taxiways and a new website - www.sxmairport.com – with accurate arrival and departure information as well as tips for travelers visiting the island. For the shoppers in the crowd, the Blue Mall in Cupecoy is open with a plethora of upscale shops and boutiques. "St. Maarten is already a shopper's paradise,” said Edward Dest, interim director of tourism, “the Mall is a welcome addition to what we offer our visitors from around the world.” The regional trade show, SMART, will be held May 15 – 18 at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort.
|(credit: St. Maarten Tourist Bureau )|
|Blue Mall ( credit: St. Maarten Island Guide )|
Across the pond, the ferry from the airport in St. Maarten to Anguilla now departs in the evening for travelers who prefer not to overnight in St. Maarten. On the hotel landscape, two openings for next year include Zemi Beach, a 112-room high-end hotel on Shoal Bay and the 32-room Manoah built on the site of the former Ku Hotel. Slated to open in December, the upscale Malliouhana Hotel is now under new ownership. The iconic resort opened in 1984 and closed in 2011 pending a sale. “We are very excited about these island developments, “said Haydn Hughes, parliamentary secretary of tourism, “we are confident they will offer our visitors even more options when visiting the island. “
|Haydn Huges, parliamentary secretary , tourism Anguilla ( credit: M. Reffes )|
Save the Date
Jamaica will host Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014 at the Montego Bay Convention Center. www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com