Sales Tips for Under-the-Radar Guadeloupe

La Creole Hotel Beach & Spa has much to recommend it for a family vacation.

La Creole Hotel Beach & Spa has much to recommend it for a family vacation.

After laying low for years, the Guadeloupe Islands are beginning to market heavily to U.S. tourists, and agents should start preparing for a rush to this French-Caribbean paradise. Travel Agent is here to help as we break down what you need to know about the destination: the best family resort, the best couples resort, the popular niche markets the islands serve, flight news and more.

Guadeloupe is an archipelago of five islands, two (Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre) connected by roads and three outlining islands (Marie-Galante, Les Saintes and La Désirade), the farthest being 45 minutes away, that are connected by efficient inter-island ferry services, making the archipelago a premier island-hopping destination.

As an overseas department of France, Guadeloupe is a blend of modern French infrastructure and beautiful Caribbean tropical setting. Agents can reassure their clients of the destination’s modern roads, airport, health system and high level of safety, surrounded by pristine beaches and lush tropical environment.

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The French-Caribbean archipelago—with more than 56,000 acres of protected reserve—is a nature paradise, making the Guadeloupe Islands a leader in sustainable tourism. The islands of the archipelago offer five unique ecosystems brimming with activities for visitors. Activities include diving and snorkeling amidst vibrant marine reserves, hiking and exploring rainforests, climbing a mildly active volcano, discovering waterfalls, touring botanical gardens and verdant parks, as well as historical time travel through the many preserved buildings and cultural experiences.

From the U.S. market, this island group attracts highly educated travelers—60 percent females, 40 percent males—with a minimum annual salary of $70,000, ages 25 and up. The top five source markets within the U.S. have been New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, and California.

Popular Niche Markets: The Guadeloupe Archipelago with its wealth of activities and experiences is a match for a variety of niche markets: culinary, families, honeymoons and romance, ecotourism, diving, sailing, adventurers, Francophiles and wellness (these islands are home to many natural hot springs, sulfur baths and mud baths). Recently there has been a development of heritage and architectural tourism especially in Pointe-à-Pitre, which is referred to by many as the “New Orleans of the Caribbean” with its historical French Creole styled architecture.

Recommended Hotel for Couples: La Toubana Hotel & Spa, secluded amidst a garden on a hillside overlooking the ocean, is well suited for those seeking a romantic experience. Couples will be seduced by the contemporary style bungalows and suites poised along the slope, inviting them to savor the natural environment with earth-toned furnishing, colorful accents and wonderful views. The two Oceanview Master Suites are especially enticing for couples, with their personal pools and utmost privacy. The intimate Ocean Spa, with its singular couple’s treatment room, offers the perfect ambiance for luxurious and romantic pampering sessions.

La Toubana also recently added 12 new ocean facing luxury suites, two of which have private pools. For the 2014/2015 winter season the property will debut two ultra-luxe four bedroom villas. Agents should reach out to Carole Adam ([email protected]), vice president of sales and marketing.

Recommended Hotels for Families: La Creole Hotel Beach & Spa is a family-friendly resort that offers a complete beach vacation with 204 expansive rooms (many of which can be connected for family convenience) and 15 Junior Suites. The four-star beachfront resort welcomes children ages 0-2 with free accommodations and meals, and children ages 3-11 with free accommodations if sharing parents’ bedroom and 50 percent savings on meals (maximum 2 children). Carole Adam is the go-to person for La Creole as well.

For Sailing Clients: The city of Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe’s largest city, will once again be the finishing line for the 10th edition of the most famous of all transatlantic sailing races, Route du Rhum, which takes place every four years. It runs from October 25 through November 2. The legendary sailing event attracts international media and sailing enthusiasts from across the world to Guadeloupe Islands to witness the crowning of a new sailing legend and partake in the many French-Caribbean celebrations in and around the event.

Calling Rum Enthusiasts: DMC Sofaia Evasion is celebrating Route du Rhum 2014 and the many award-winning Rhum Agricole Guadeloupean brands with a new excursion package, The Route du Rhum Tour of Guadeloupe Islands. The package includes round-trip airport transfers, complimentary car rental, free prepaid local cell phone, tours and rum tasting at the distilleries of the renowned award-winning rum brands Bièlle, Père Labat and Le Domaine de Séverin, as well as a tour of the Sugar Cane museum, complimentary ferry tickets to/from the outer Islands Marie-Galante and La Desirade, bi-lingual tour guide in Marie-Galante, plus more. Agents should contact Stéphane Martial ([email protected]), co-founder of DMC Sofaia Evasion.

For Golfers: The 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed Saint-Francois International Golf Course has recently been renovated to improve its appearance and quality of the course. Occupying an exceptional setting overlooking the sea, and across from the marina, the golf course is surrounded by Royal Palm trees and is an excellent facility for championships, opens and for vacationing golfers. There is no website but agents can call the course directly at 011-590-590-88-4187.

For Shoppers: Guadeloupe offers visitors a French shopping experience, from designer labels and coveted beauty brands to liqueurs, including the best champagne from the mainland (the island group is the world’s largest per-capita importer of champagne). Added to this experience are the locally made handicrafts and authentic spices reflecting the French-Creole culture, and of course, no trip is complete without Guadeloupean award-winning Rhum Agricole souvenirs. The major shopping areas are the Bas-du-Fort Marina in Gosier, adjacent to the Guadeloupe Aquarium; the Saint-Francois Marina across from the aforementioned golf course; the Destreland Commercial Center in Baie-Mahault; Rue frebault in Pointe-à-Pitre; the Art & Craft Village in Sainte-Anne; and the Main Street in Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes by the Harbor.

Tour Operators: While the tourist board is in discussion with a few tour operators to launch partnerships in 2014, EuroBound is currently the only tour operator selling Guadeloupe Islands in the U.S. market. The Los Angeles-based tour operator is offering agents up to 14 percent commission on nine air-inclusive packages valid through December 31. Agents can contact EuroBound’s Christa Barnett at [email protected]

Airlift: American Airlines has a weekly nonstop flight between Pointe-à-Pitre and Miami. The flight departs every Saturday. It leaves Miami at 11:20 a.m. and arrives in Guadeloupe at 3:25 p.m. Also, Seaborne Airlines has increased service from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Pointe-à-Pitre to four times per week in a code share agreement with American Airlines and an interline agreement with JetBlue Airways. Within the Caribbean, Air Antilles Express began twice weekly service from Antigua every Monday and Thursday. The flight takes 20 minutes and is serviced by a 48-seat ATR 42. 

The Oceanview Master Suite at La Toubana Hotel & Spa
The Oceanview Master Suite at La Toubana Hotel & Spa

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