ST. PAUL, Minnesota – As part of our coverage of the 17th annual MLT University trade show, which concluded Tuesday, Travel Agent sat down with Berthia M. Parle, general manager of Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia and former president of the Caribbean Hotel Association.
Perhaps the biggest news Parle shared with us was that Royal by Rex Resort in the Castries area of St. Lucia will undergo a full, multimillion-dollar renovation. The renovation, which is expected to be completed in about a year, is such big news because this property, in Travel Agent’s opinion, has so much potential but has been in dire need of an upgrade for a long time now.
We stayed there during our coverage of the Caribbean Marketplace nearly two years ago and thought the location, right in the heart of St. Lucia’s bustling Rodney Bay, made this resort the perfect spot for anyone looking to get out to the many restaurants and bars located in Rodney. It was going back into the hotel that was a problem.
The room layouts and the views were all very nice, but everything from the furniture to the TVs to the poor Internet service seemed dated and somewhat neglected. In fact, several companies, including Sandals Resorts, tried to acquire the property.
Parle told us the government of St. Lucia eventually put enough pressure on the resort to refurbish and they listened. When they finish this project, expect a new jewel in St. Lucia’s Rodney Bay area to sell to your clients looking to enjoy the island’s night life.
“In these times, when all hotels are trying to fill rooms, it’s important for all of them to make sure they are up to speed,” Parle told Travel Agent, “so the fact that the Royal will be doing this is something we are all looking forward to.”
In other St. Lucia news, Parle told us island arrivals in St. Lucia are up 28 percent. In fact, she says the numbers for St. Lucia this year are very much comparable to 2008, something most other Caribbean islands wish they can say. Parle attributed the increase to the new JetBlue Airways flights as well as the increased American Airlines and Delta Airlines flights.
The same usual markets, the Northeast U.S. and Canada, remain St. Lucia’s most successful markets this year but expect Chicago to improve soon as Parle tells us a deal to get direct American flights from there to St. Lucia “is pretty close to being done.”