Travel Agent recently invited Caribbean tourism delegates to a roundtable discussion in New York to get first hand status updates from both the islands that were devastated by last year’s hurricane season and the ones that escaped major damage.
Included in the discussion were Kim Jack Riley, Antigua and Barbuda’s director of tourism for the USA; Cardigan Connor, parliamentary secretary for Anguilla's tourism sector; Petra Roach, U.S. director of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.; Celia Ross-Latham, director of sales for the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Tourism Office; Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer at the Bermuda Tourism Authority; Perla George, business development director for North America at the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board; Mikala Moss, area manager for New York for the Bahamas Tourist Office; Christine Noel-Horsford, director of sales and marketing for the Grenada Tourism Authority; and Sylma Brown, director for the U.S. for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
Ruthanne Terrero and Joe Pike of Travel Agent magazine and Travel Agent Central moderated the conversation.
In this piece, we focus on Anguilla and updates provided to us by Cardigan Connor, parliamentary secretary for Anguilla's tourism sector. Be sure to keep following Travel Agent in the coming weeks as we will break down the status updates from some of the other destinations involved in the discussion.
Anguilla Status Report
Connor told Travel Agent that although Anguilla was one of the islands to feel the brunt of Hurricane Irma, the destination is in a great position to rebound quickly.
“My island got hit quite hard. The numbers on the books were higher than they've ever been, so we looked forward to the start of the tourist season, which is normally in November,” says Connor. “But, again, we were hit by storms in the past, but the quality of Anguilla, or Anguillians, is that there's no point looking back. We look forward. We got back on stream pretty quickly. We had electricity before Christmas, which was a huge bonus, because it was believed that it wouldn't be available until March.”
As far as new products go, Connor pointed to the new Quintessence “Q” Hotel and the rebranded Belmond Cap Juluca as two properties that will create a buzz around Anguilla tourism.
Belmond Cap Juluca is now taking bookings and will welcome guests starting November 17. Formerly just Cap Juluca, the property has 113 new guest rooms and suites – all with large private verandas or balconies.
In May of 2017, Belmond, Ltd. announced that it had signed agreements to acquire Cap Juluca. The addition of the then 96-room resort marked an important milestone in the strategic development of the Belmond brand, which is committed to doubling the size of its portfolio by 2020.
Belmond also had fortunate timing, as it was already slated to close for renovations at the time of the hurricanes. Now, many of the accommodations offer large bathrooms that overlook courtyards with a private seating area. The three- and five-bedroom private villas have kitchens, large dining areas and private pools.
“Belmond was a blessing in disguise, and I think they were really fortunate because they planned to shut down anyway and reopen, do some renovations and some additions, and to reopen for November,” says Connor.
The Q Hotel is the first hotel to open on Anguilla since the hurricane. It will offer just nine individual suites, villas and penthouses, which include Hastens beds and are serviced by personal butlers. Advisors should note that the mansion is available for a full buyout (accommodating 22 guests).
Also, the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla officially reopened on March 23 following months of restoration due to the impact of the storm. Since the resort opened as the Viceroy Anguilla in 2010 and was converted to a Four Seasons in 2016, it has garnered much buzz amongst Millennial couples traveling with other couples, as well as Baby Boomers, for its intimacy and access to multiple beaches.
Other properties currently open are the Zemi Beach House, the CeBlue Resort in Crocus Hill; Carimar Beach Club, Frangipani Beach Resort and Meads Bay Villas on Meads Bay; Shoal Bay Villas, Serenity Cottages and Fountain Residences on Shoal Bay; and Paradise Cove Beach Resort in The Cove.
Anguilla also has an array of villas open for the season, including Spyglass Hill in North Hill; Kishti Villas on Meads Bay; Cerulean in the West End; Champagne Shores in Lockrum; Arushi Villa on Rendezvous Bay; Zenaida in Sandy Hill; and Villa Paradise in Cul de Sac.
Another option this winter is Anguilla’s vacation apartments, self-catering units available for rental. La Vue Holiday Rentals and Royal Palm Holiday Apartments in South Hill; Elodias Beach Resort on Shoal Bay East; and West End Bay Holiday Suites in the West End are among the properties that are open for the season.
Most of the island’s popular restaurants and beach bars are also already open for the season, including Tasty’s, Veya, Straw Hat, DaVida’s on Crocus Bay, Tokyo Bay, Elvis, Johnno’s, Falcon’s Nest and Hibernia.
The latest information about the island of Anguilla can be found at the Anguilla Tourism Board’s website, www.irma.ivisitanguilla.com. The website provides information about access to the island via air and sea, ground transportation, restaurants and attractions.
The Island’s Other Challenge
Although most hotels are coming back online for the destination, Anguilla still faces the challenge of inadequate airlift, an obstacle Connor says the island has dealt with long before last year’s hurricane season.
“For us in Anguilla, we’ll be happy with one direct flight from anywhere to the mainland, but please don’t feel sorry for us. We manage,” says Connor. “Without a doubt, that is a main challenge, and we sit most northern of the islands and think that it’s quite smug out there. We’ve got beautiful beaches and the weather is generally quite nice, but [not having a direct flight] tells you that you're still dependent on the islands around you."