The biggest challenge for the Cayman Islands is making sure its airlift keeps up with the island’s rapidly growing hotel product, says Rosa Harris, the Cayman Islands' director of tourism.
As part of our "Five Questions With..." series, we chatted with Harris about the island's increasing luxury hotel product, its need for increased airlift and a new marketing campaign that could lead to more Cayman bookings for agents.
1. What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in the Cayman Islands this year?
We have a solid, yet growing tourism product and are initiating a multi-faceted 2017 marketing strategy with a number of promotions, new partnerships, and activations that I look forward to leveraging. The destination has built a positive momentum by welcoming the first new property on Seven Mile Beach in a decade with the opening of the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in November 2016.
This year, we are poised for further growth in our room stock with the debut of the Margaritaville Beach Resort. Led by the Howard Hospitality Group, at the site of the former Treasure Island Resort on Seven Mile Beach, Margaritaville Beach Resort will feature 280 guest rooms, a spa, a two-story water slide and several restaurants and bars. The Cayman Islands now stands at 6,001 in our room stock pool.
As a small island state this is a significant milestone for our country, as it is the highest number of rooms available in the history of the Cayman Islands. With the increase in our room portfolio, it is important that we continue working with our national flag carrier, Cayman Airways, and global airline partners on making Cayman Islands even more accessible by improving connectivity. We are excited about the announcement of the new nonstop service Southwest Airlines will operate from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to Grand Cayman, starting June 4, 2017.
2. What’s trending? What is the consumer asking for? How has the Kimpton been performing since it opened?
The industry is aware that today’s consumer is a very savvy, value driven buyer. Further, market trends show that the definition of luxury is shifting. Now more than ever luxury stands for more than just a price tag - authentic, personalized experiences are the new norm. The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa delivers this type of experience; fresh approach on hotel design, barefoot, understated luxury that is easy. The Cayman Islands offers a three island experience with Little Cayman, Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman – we deliver a diverse and unique vacation.
3. What is the most challenging issue of being in the travel space right now?
For the Cayman Islands, I feel the most challenging issue in the travel space is the unpredictability of foreign markets and the trickle-down effect it has on travel decisions. While our primary market, the U.S., has remained strong, other concerns such as global instability for areas like Canada and the United Kingdom continue to be situations we monitor. Millennials have been the subject of much travel industry discussion in recent years; however, Millennial travel will continue to challenge our industry on how to penetrate and cater to their preferences.
4. Where is your favorite place to travel and why?
As the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the wine list in the Cayman Islands is so diverse I have come to love French wine-- especially Sancerre -- so any chance to visit wine country in France is always on my list. France is also a mecca of fashion and lifestyle experiences, which I always enjoy taking in.
5. Where are you off to next? Any personal info or news you’d like to share?
For the first time in three months, I’m actually home, so enjoying quality family time is on the agenda. However, New York is on the horizon—and who doesn’t love the bright lights and big city?
Want more “Five Questions with…” stories? Check out a recent feature we did on Petra Roach, U.S. director of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, by clicking here.