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New Niches, Trends in the Caribbean and ElsewhereApril 2, 2008 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
There's never a shortage of niches.
And when a niche has been exhausted, there's always the ever-growing niche within a niche trend. For example, girls-only getaways have spawned girls-only golf getaways and the latest Caribbean and Latin America trend, girls-only surfing programs. These are just a few of the creative niche programs suppliers and wholesalers are coming up with lately. Here are a few more that Travel Agent has learned about, whether from our recent trips or just from good old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
Paint Ball in the Caribbean
Sunburn may not be the only worthy pain you can endure in the Caribbean. Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia is bringing the first paint ball facility, The Zone, to St. Lucia. This is a great pitch for younger clients or even families. The Zone is being described as "a retro-industrial inspired paintball war zone."
Guests can battle each other on the playing field, measuring 11,000 square feet and able to accommodate up to 10 players, two teams of five. Coconut Bay's two paint ball packages available include the Basic Package complete with a paint ball gun with a compressed air tank and 140 paint balls and protective gear for $29 per person. The Zone Package features all of the above with the addition of a pod belt and an extra pod containing 140 paint balls for $59 per person. Visit www.cbayresort.com. The Dominican Republic is another Caribbean destination that we know of that has several paint ball facilities.
Golf Course Hopping
With a new golf course seemingly popping up in the Caribbean at least once a week, there is a growing trend of affluent travelers, usually corporate groups, who charter jets and then spend about 4-7 days hitting up the best 18-hole courses the Caribbean has to offer.
We learned of this trend first hand during our visit to Barbados' Sandy Lane resort. We were told by hotel representatives that it is not uncommon for affluent travelers not even staying at the resort to drop in for a round of golf.
A Glimpse at the Stars
No, we're not talking about celebrities here. We're literally talking about programs where your astronomy-loving clients can go star-gazing with a professional astronomer. Marquis Los Cabos Golf, Spa & Resort on the Southern tip of Baja California is offering a new package for your clients who either like some adventure and a little astronomy to go along with a Mexico vacation.
The Adventure-a-Day package is a year-round program that includes adventures from scuba diving to star-gazing on the beach with a professional astronomer. Other excursions include swimming with dolphins, horseback rides in the desert, surfing and eco-tours in the Sierra Mountains. Visit www.marquisloscabos.com.
Belize Lodge Offers Package for Fishing Enthusiasts
Machaca Hill Lodge, located just minutes away from the Rio Grande in Belize, is offering several packages for your clients who love to fish.
Clients can choose from either a three-, five- or seven-night package. Each includes a welcome drink, three meals per day, hors d'oeuvres and local beverages including beer and rum, as well as up to eight consecutive hours of fishing for every day of your clients' stay. Fishermen-or-women who prefer it to be alone with the sea can take advantage of the one person per boat packages available at the lodge, which provide the option of a single or double cabana. Rates for these packages range from $1,600 for a three-night stay to $5,100 for a seven-night stay. Those wanting a buddy alongside them can select one of Machaca's packages allowing two people per boat with the option of a single or double cabana. Rates for these packages range from $1,170 for a three-night stay up to $3,910 for a seven-night stay. It can be booked for travel now through December 17. Machaca Hill is a 12-cabana eco-lodge that is near a prime location for fishing. The water is home to an array of species of fish, including permit, tarpon, snook, jacks, snapper and barracuda. Visit www.machacahill.com.
Costa Rica Company Teaches Vacationers About Smart Growth
Travel with Conscience, a luxury travel company partnered with SCLC (Learning and Conservation Center) in Costa Rica, an organization devoted to community development, promotion of sustainable land use, and connecting tourists to local community initiatives. Guests spend a few hours during their vacation learning about the center, helping and donating to various projects. Visit www.travelwithconscience.com.
Food For Thought
Recently, it seems that more and more Caribbean hot spots like Puerto Rico and St. Maarten/St. Martin are promoting their cuisine just as much as their beaches. In fact, Travel Agent was on hand last month as the Puerto Rico Tourism Company in hosted an event to promote the first "Saborea Puerto Rico: A Culinary Extravaganza" festival in San Juan from April 4-6.
We sampled some excellent Puerto Rico cuisine as part of the tourism company's push to promote what is expected to be an annual event in Puerto Rico. Media, as well as several travel agents, were invited to this event in Times Square where tourism officials expressed the need to promote the Caribbean's authentic cuisine as opposed to solely focusing on the region's beaches. The event will be hosted by the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) and will celebrate the destination's culinary traditions. The marketing strategy fits well with Puerto Rico's "Explore Beyond the Shore" campaign, which urges agents to persuade clients to venture off beyond the resort and experience Puerto Rico's many excellent restaurants and attractions. Tourism officials expect the event to grow with time, but anticipate about 2,500 people per day at the event in San Juan. With food programs centered around children as well, we recommend pitching this to both couples and families, especially first-time Puerto Rico visitors. Visit www.SaboreaPuertoRico.com.